Anyone else with an emotionally unavailable mum?

(243 Posts)
Watchclock Sat 20-Nov-21 22:31:34

Since as long as I can remember my mum has been so emotionally unavailable to me.
I’ve never been able to talk to her about anything really. Things like starting my period, I hid it from her until she found out packs of pads had been disappearing and found some of my underwear.
I never spoke to her about contraception when I started my first serious relationship at 15.
I started self harming around age 18 and she knew but said nothing and just took my means to self harming away which she found in my room.
I never told her I was pregnant until I was showing and couldn’t hide it.
These are just some of the key memories I have.
Having my own daughter who’s getting a bit older now I encourage her to talk about everything and always reassure her I’m there for her for anything.
The point to all this is that it’s been really tough, and I just wanted to talk to anyone else who might have similar mothers? I’m NC with my dad so that doesn’t help and if I’m honest it’s a really lonely situation.
All I’ve seen throughout my life is everyone else with such a good relationship with their mum and who’s mums are so helpful and caring and I don’t think others can relate.
I have metal health issues I think mainly as a result of my mum always being so cold towards me.

I have an amazing partner and some close dear friends I can confide in, but I know no one in real life in a similar situation with their mum and it would be nice to speak to someone who can understand where I’m coming from.

OP’s posts: |
MrsBlondie Sat 20-Nov-21 22:55:49

Yep. My mum knows hardly anything about my real life and doesn't ask

pcofmushu Sat 20-Nov-21 23:12:48

I could have written this, OP. I can totally relate to every single thing that you've written.

Thank you for starting this thread.

Have you found that your relationship with your mum has influenced the kind of parent you like to be to your child? I am yet to TTC but I already know the kind of mum I want to be based on how mine has (or hasn't!) been with me x

Thisbastardcomputer Sat 20-Nov-21 23:17:30

Yes mine was exactly the same, she died last month from Alzheimer's, strangely she was very nice and caring during the Alzheimer years.

gonerogue Sat 20-Nov-21 23:20:11

I am 42 years of age and I have never hugged my mother - nor have we said I love you to each other. She was never the kind of mother you could talk to about emotions / upset as it would be turned around to be your fault.
I never told her I had started my period, never confided in her about bullying in school or boyfriends.
When I told her that I was marrying now DH - she asked if I was sure he was the right person for me because she thought he was "too quiet"

I, on the other hand, tell my DC I love them very day - we spend dayes snuggled on the sofa watching random shows that they pick, we dance around the kitchen, and every day starts and ends with a hug (when I am not at work/college)

gonerogue Sat 20-Nov-21 23:25:32

I too used to be really jealous of my friends' relationships with their mothers. If I mentioned a row with my mother they wouldn't be able to relate at all either.

I haven't spoken to people about her apart from my own counsellor.
I would recommend counselling if you need to work through it for yourself.

When I moved back to my home town people would say "Oh it will be great having your mother around to help with childcare" I have only started using her for childcare in very rare situations - and my children are 12 and 10 so they are able to tell me if anything is not sitting right with them.

SlipperyLizard Sat 20-Nov-21 23:33:14

“I never told her I had started my period, never confided in her about bullying in school or boyfriends.”

I could have written this - I started my periods age 10 and didn’t tell her! I envy people who feel supported/loved by their mums. My mum is the last person I’d confide in about anything.

My dad has never really been around and I feel I’ve definitely suffered with lack of self esteem/confidence as a result.


IcyBlonde15 Sat 20-Nov-21 23:34:48

My mother has no interest in me whatsoever. I told her about an exciting project I have coming up and she just shrugged and it went in one ear and out the other. As a young teen I knew I couldn't talk to her about my problems because I would just get shot right down. When I was being badly bullied age 13 I tried to tell her and she just said "I have enough to deal with without you starting this nonsense!" so I never brought it up again and suffered in silence. I took part in a school swimming gala one day and she absolutely hated having to take me, and after I finished a sprint I asked could I have a drink of water and she got really cross and said "can you stop acting like you are in the Olympics, you weren't that good!" I think my mum has struggled all my life to see my as a separate person with my own needs and is just selfish and I have come to accept she will never be the person I turn to for emotional support. I always hope my children will be able to talk to me and I will make sure I am never unavailable to them

Flamingo49 Sat 20-Nov-21 23:38:06

Another one here who could have written this post. Since becoming a parent our relationship has deteriorated as I realise how messed up my childhood was. I grieve for the mum I will never have. Had lots of therapy about it but I will never fully be at peace with it. It has really damaged my ability to have relationships with men so I'm glad you've been able to find someone.

ItsWrittenintheStars Sat 20-Nov-21 23:39:32

Yes, my relationship with my mother is like this. She has never told me that she loves me, is proud of me, given me compliments etc and it seems so strange now that I am a parent myself because I can’t stop telling my DC.

I think my mother is undiagnosed ADHD as she can never keep still and she can’t focus when someone is trying to have a conversation with her. She will always interrupt even if I am telling her something sensitive or important.

I have low self-esteem and I’ve long since attributed that to my childhood. However, we were always cared for and I do believe she was the best mother she knew how to be. She’d had a tough childhood herself.

2319inprogress Sat 20-Nov-21 23:43:45

My mum is the last person I’d confide in about anything.

She knows nothing about me & thinks my husband is far too good for me, often asks him why he puts up with me etc

She was weirdly competitive with me as a child too.

The longer I parent the more I realise just how fucked up she is/was as a parent.

Lollypop701 Sat 20-Nov-21 23:53:19

Yanbu, please just acknowledge the parent you have, don’t compare because you can’t have that relationship. You have learned the lesson and will be an amazing mum.

Watchclock Sun 21-Nov-21 02:45:53

I’m replying at 2 o’clock in the morning as this is really on my mind.
I can’t believe how many responses I’ve had, I just didn’t think so many similar mothers existed.
I’m sorry to all of you that you can relate but I find comfort in that I’m not alone.

A few have mentioned therapy I definitely think this is something I will do as I need peace.
It’s heavily on my mind lately.

yes my relationship with my
Mother has influenced what kind of parent I am, as a child I remember telling myself I would be nothing like her. I always wanted a baby, and I believe it’s because I wanted something to love and care for like I hadn’t been.
I ended up as a single teen mum but I believe I am the opposite of my mother despite things having been tough.
Although I have mental health issues which does affect my parenting, I want to work on that and get therapy.
I wish you all the luck with TTC ❤️

I am sorry to hear that your mum has passed. I hope you’re doing alright.

I have never hugged my mother either, or said I love you.
It’s very sad, and I’ve never admitted that to anyone in real life as i know how shocking it would be to some people.
As for emotions I’m always told I’m feeling sorry for myself and so many others have it worse if I ever try to confide about anything troubling me to her.

OP’s posts: |
paisley256 Sun 21-Nov-21 03:08:44

Im another with a weirdly cold relationship with my mum.

She knows absolutely nothing about me.

Someone once said to me, if you want your children to turn to you when their lives fall apart, that has to start when they are children. It was like a huge lightbulb moment for me as I realised that she had never really been interested in me. I think she loves me but only if it's really when I've done something to make her look good.

Anyway, I've learned massively from it in that I try to be emotionally available to my children. I hope I'm the kind of mum they feel close to.

The other thing I've learned is that she'll never ever be the kind of mum I can ring to share anything with. I have had loads of therapy and I'm still trying to make peace with the dynamic between us as it often feels like I'm a massive failure.

You sound lovely. I really think therapy will help unpick some stuff and allow you to move past this.

All the best flowers

starrynight21 Sun 21-Nov-21 03:23:10


Yes mine was exactly the same, she died last month from Alzheimer's, strangely she was very nice and caring during the Alzheimer years.

Same with mine. She never knew anything about my life. I just got used to it, I didn't know any different , and my best friend had the same sort of mother so I sort of grew up thinking it was normal. I never would have dreamed of confiding about anything with her.

When she got Alzheimer's, she became really nice and really friendly, which was odd to say the least . It was how I knew something was "not right".

My only suggestion is to just accept that that's the way your mother is. Nothing will change her . Get on with your life and don't expect anything from her, it'll never happen. Just make a vow that you'll be different from her - I did that and it worked like a charm. I have a great relationship with my kids which my mother never had. I'm the lucky one !

Overthebow Sun 21-Nov-21 07:06:47

I also could have written your OP. It’s really hard and I don’t think anyone understands if they haven’t experienced this.

Happyharry2003 Sun 21-Nov-21 08:01:01

I could have written this word for word. I’m in the same position. I was on a course recently where we were asked who inspired us and was always there to help us. Many people mentioned their mum and even after years of knowing what my mum is like, this still upsets me that I don’t have this relationship. I used to envy daughters who would have mothers who went in shopping trips, were emotionally there for their daughters no matter what and provided emotional and practical support during their teens/Early 20’s. I was just left to navigate through my teens on my own but criticised and humiliated by her when I made mistakes or got things wrong. Even now writing this I’ve got a voice in my head saying ‘stop being so dramatic’. In fact my mother had a phrase she used every time I was upset to Mock me ‘nobody loves me, everybody hates me’ yet she would deny this if I mentioned it now.

On a positive note, I feel that despite my sometimes less than perfect mental health, I have a really good relationship with my teens. They know they are loved, come to me for advice and feel secure. My biggest fear is they will ever feel like I did.

CouldBeReady Sun 21-Nov-21 08:05:09

I understand where you're coming from OP. It's very hard and painful. Therapy has been helpful for me thanks

Augusta1 Sun 21-Nov-21 08:16:17

You are definitely not alone Op. My mantra for parenting has always been, "what would my mother do? Now I'll do the opposite" I have a lovely relationship with my children.

Watchclock Sun 21-Nov-21 09:22:57

Thank you for the replies I can’t believe how many have said they could of written my OP word for word that’s so odd to me as I’ve never known another mother like my own.
But if I’m honest I don’t really talk about it to people in real life so maybe others don’t either.

I know I’m totally different to her as a mother myself now.
Although I’ve found not having a mum in the early years of motherhood really difficult 😞 it was like a part of my mind that i’d managed to put away and accept had suddenly been opened up again.

I’m so glad to hear that many of you have such good relationships with your own children.

@Augusta1 that’s a good mantra, I’ll have to remember it

OP’s posts: |
AliceAldridge Sun 21-Nov-21 09:34:23

I could also have written parts of your post. Not confiding in her about anything. I felt I would either be criticised or she would be disappointed. Everything is always about how she's been made to feel upset by something. I do have a good relationship with her, but I am the one in the emotionally supporting role, to her. She'd be devastated (upset!) if I ever actually told her any of this! And that's not something I am programmed to do. Life is easier if I don't and it wouldn't make any difference. I should be fair to her and say she is very lovely in other ways, very nurturing with food and hospitality and gifts, and I have always felt welcomed whenever, but not in any sort of emotionally supportive, discussing feelings capacity. If I am overwhelmed or exhausted and try to tell her she appears to disapprove.

I do think it's a generational thing. What decade did your mum grow up in?

AliceAldridge Sun 21-Nov-21 09:35:26

I’ve never known another mother like my own

I could have written this too!

Orangetractor Sun 21-Nov-21 09:42:43

Could have written this myself. My mum never taught me basic self care, never spoke about sex/contraception or periods, never gave a hug or was told that she loved us. She saw I had been self harming and said "don't let anyone else see that" then never acknowledged it. She would scream at us when we were kids and I remember her smacking me when I was younger. Moved us around all the time, many failed marriages.
It's really affected my ability to have relationships, I am currently waiting assessment for BPD and on the list for therapy. Sadly I also move around a lot and have had many relationships and it's makes me so sad that I am just following what was modelled to me.
I never wanted kids because I was terrified I would be like her but i have my son now and can't believe half the stuff she did. I have promised myself I will bring my son up in a loving environment, his dad and I aren't together anymore but we co parent well and I tell my son I love him all the time.
I can't even be in the same room as my mum because to her it's like this stuff never happened, she acts like she's the best mum ever, when she tries to hug me I squirm. I can't even make eye contact with her. I've been avoiding her for months now.

lardass88 Sun 21-Nov-21 09:45:24

Can sadly relate to this as well,my mum has never been maternal with me or my siblings. I've never been able to talk to her about any problems as she just turns it around to her own ( much worse 🙄) problems.. I fell pregnant at 19 and it was very much well you made your bed you lie in it .. not much support for all the years I was a single parent yet as my siblings have had children she can't be more helpful. I think my relationship with her has dented my mental health and has made my struggles as an adult much harder. Im 43

BringBackThinEyebrows Sun 21-Nov-21 09:50:21

I can relate. My mum never hugged me, told me she loved me, or was supportive. I couldn't talk to her about anything. It took me 2 years to tell her my period had started and that was because I absolutely had to. She spent at least 3 of my childhood birthdays at other social events, not with me. As a teenager, I told her out of despair that my mental health was struggling (she knew I was self harming) and she didn't acknowledge it or seek help.

I always felt that she chose other people/believed other people over me.

Thank goodness you sound like a loving mother to your daughter. Sorry to everyone else who has experienced similar.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in