“Why Does My Mom Hate Me?” Navigating A Difficult Relationship With Your Mom

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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If you find yourself asking, "Why does my mom hate me?" then you may be experiencing a strained relationship with your mother. There may be many reasons why you feel as if your mother hates you, potentially including psychological concerns she may be experiencing, the stress of parenting, and relationship imbalances. It can be helpful to acknowledge and validate your feelings, identify underlying issues in your relationship, set boundaries, communicate your needs, release unrealistic expectations, and focus on personal growth and healing. Communicating openly with your mother, practicing active listening and empathy, and embracing patience may improve your relationship as well. In addition, seeking professional help through online or in-person therapy is often an effective method of resolving emotional issues and learning skills for improving your relationship with your mom.

Please note that although this article focuses on mothers, the information here can apply to parents and parental figures of all kinds.

Do you feel unloved or alienated by a parent?

I do everything right, so why does my mom hate me?

Parental relationships can often involve power struggles, often due to psychological challenges. Even if you seemingly do everything right, your mother may harbor emotional issues from the past that could contribute to a strained relationship.

Psychological concerns

Psychological concerns, like unresolved trauma, anxiety, and depression, can make mothers (and parents in general) overly controlling or distant from their children. Since children usually depend on their parents for guidance and support, they can easily become the target of a parent's anger or frustration.

The stress of parenting

The stress and exhaustion of parenting can sometimes make a mom think, "I hate being a mom." If a parent cannot cope with their emotional concerns, they may begin projecting those feelings onto their children. Projection can manifest itself in the form of criticism, irritation, and even aggression. If your mother exhibits these behaviors towards you, she may be experiencing unresolved issues.

Relationship imbalances

When mothers have unresolved trauma or experiences that have left them feeling vulnerable or scared of being too attached to their children, it can create an imbalance in the relationship. The imbalance may also be compounded by cultural and generational factors, like the expectations placed on mothers or the notion of hands-off parenting that can be common in some cultures. 

Cultural approach to parenting

A mother's cultural approach to parenting can greatly influence her relationship with her children. For example, American mothers may generally try to instill a sense of autonomy, assertiveness, verbal competence, and self-actualization in their children. 

While American society tends to be more individualistic, Japanese mothers may often strive to instill emotional maturity, self-control, social courtesy, and interdependence in their children. 

It can be emotionally damaging for a child to grow up not feeling accepted or loved by their mother or parent. A lack of support and connection may lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, guilt, shame, and even depression. A 2022 study about parental alienating behaviors indicates this type of emotional abuse* can even have effects persisting into adulthood.

*If you or a loved one is witnessing or experiencing any form of abuse, please know that help is available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

How to recover from feeling unloved by a parent

As we get older, our childhood experiences often form the basis for how we interact with others and form new relationships. In this way, an unhealthy relationship with your mother can significantly impact your well-being and hinder you from forming meaningful connections with people in your life.

If you feel unsupported, unloved, or disconnected from a parent, there may be hope for improving your self-esteem and mental health. Here are some tips for recovering from feeling unloved by a parent:

  • Acknowledging and validating your feelings: Sometimes, it can be difficult to admit that you feel neglected and unimportant in a relationship with a parent, but when we recognize and accept our own emotions, it can help us to move forward.
  • Identifying the underlying issues in the relationship: Many times, unresolved problems can contribute to a negative mother-child relationship. Emotional trauma, generational trauma, or cultural values can all affect how parents interact with their children. When you understand the "why," it can help you move on.
  • Setting boundaries and communicating your needs: It's often important to establish healthy boundaries in your relationships with your parents. When you can communicate your feelings openly and honestly, it can reduce tension and decrease the likelihood of misunderstandings.
  • Letting go of unrealistic expectations: When we find ourselves in difficult relationships with our parents, it can be hard to accept that their love may not look the way we expect it to. Accepting the reality of the situation and letting go of any expectations you have can help you move toward healing.
  • Focusing on personal growth and healing: Healing can be a process, and taking care of yourself is often essential. Engaging in activities like mindfulness, therapy, and journaling can help you move forward and make positive changes in your life.

Applying the steps mentioned above may make it possible to develop a more realistic understanding of your relationship with your parent. From there, you can learn to accept the love that may be available to you and begin to heal from any hurt or pain from the past. While your relationship with your parent may never be perfect, you can still strive to develop a healthier and more meaningful connection.

Healing your relationship with your mom

If you decide that your relationship with your mother is worth saving, there may be a few things you can do to begin rebuilding it.

Communicate openly

Open communication is often a necessary first step to repairing a damaged relationship. It can be difficult for both of you to talk about unresolved issues and painful memories, but it can be an important part of understanding each other and finding common ground. Open communication frequently opens the door to mutual understanding, which can lay the foundation for a stronger bond.

Practice active listening and empathy

Practicing active listening and empathy when talking with your mom may also be helpful. Active listening generally means giving your mother your full attention and trying to understand her perspective without becoming defensive or judgmental. To be a better active listener, you might focus on your mother's words and body language, ask thoughtful questions, and provide feedback when appropriate.

Empathy typically requires putting yourself in someone else's shoes and trying to imagine how they are feeling. Creating a safe space where you and your mom can express yourselves without fear of judgment can be vital. Understanding each other on an emotional level can bridge differences and create a stronger bond between you.

Understand the potential benefits

There may be no one-size-fits-all solution for repairing a damaged relationship with your mother. However, when you try to open up, listen, and empathize with each other, you may begin to heal and strengthen your bond.

Often, the potential benefits of improving your relationship with your mother can be worth exploring — no matter how difficult it may initially seem. A report by Innovation in Aging indicates that strong family relationships can lead to enhanced well-being and life satisfaction. As a result, your mental and physical health may benefit from a healthy, loving relationship with your mom.

Be patient

The important thing can be to take things slow and be patient with yourself and your mother as you navigate this journey together. 

Do you feel unloved or alienated by a parent?

Seek professional help

If you experience bumps in the road, don't be afraid to seek outside help. Online therapy can help you work through unresolved issues and develop healthier communication patterns with your mom. With guidance from an experienced professional, you may be able to build a stronger bond with your mother and create a supportive space for both of you. Attending therapy online, rather than in person, often makes it more convenient.

One study looked at the efficacy of online therapy in comparison to in-person therapy and found that both types of therapy generally had the same rates of effectiveness. In addition, another study stated that family therapy could be conducted successfully via telehealth.

Takeaway

If your mother is experiencing excessive stress from parenting, living with other psychological concerns, or struggling to balance her relationship with you, it’s possible you may feel as though she hates you. If you’d like to move forward, you might start by focusing on your own personal growth and healing. You can do this by acknowledging and validating your feelings, examining underlying issues in your relationship, communicating your needs, setting boundaries, and letting go of unrealistic expectations. Open communication, active listening, empathy, and patience will likely be necessary to improve your relationship with your mom. Therapy can also help you discover ways to cope, strengthen your relationship, and enhance your overall well-being.
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