I remember bitter sweet moments of pouring out my heart to my mother. But in exchange, I experienced a mother that was emotionally dismissive and unavailable. Growing up, I never understood why I was shut out from having deep conversations with my mother until now.
What is an Emotionally Dismissive Mother?
An emotionally dismissive mother does not provide the necessary attention to your emotional needs. She will completely ignore and disregard your need to be heard, seen, and known. The dismissive mother does not fulfill your emotional needs that are essential to the building blocks of you emotional identity. I discuss some of these core emotional needs in this post:Emotional Abandonment: When a Mother’s Love Abandons You
Signs of an emotionally dismissive mother
She passively listens
An emotionally dismissive mother will not listen to your concerns and will take what you say as a difficult challenge to overcome. A healthy emotional mother will actively listen to you.
As a result, you will feel heard:
I am heard
When you hear my deepest concerns, fears, and joys, I feel appreciated, attended to, encouraged, and accepted by you.
She is quick to judge and condemn you
An emotionally dismissive mother will quickly judge and condemn you when you bring up troubles or past mistakes. A healthy emotional mother will not judge or condemn you.
Rationale of a daughter when she does not feel judged or condemned:
I am seen
When you see my faults without judgment and condemnation, I feel empowered to be vulnerable so that I can be nurtured, supported, secure in my identity, and comforted in times of uncertainty.
She does not want to get to know you
An emotionally dismissive mother will not want to get to know you. If she is narcissistic, she will quickly change the topic of the conversation to suit her ideals and thoughts. She can not imagine or attempt to FEEL your emotions.
I am known
when you know me by spending time to get to know my deepest needs and desires, I will feel a deep intimacy ( closeness that lasts) and a sense of purpose in life.
God knows us deeply. He even knows what you are going to say before you say anything! Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:4, NIV. Take heart in KNOWING that God intimately knows everything about you. He knows you more than you know yourself.
Isn’t it funny that even though God knows our deepest thoughts, He still wants to hear us speak to Him? He is that into the details of your life and wants to partner with you by hearing you out.
He wants to commune with you.
Why Toxic Mothers are emotionally dismissive?
Mothers who are emotionally dismissive may have experienced tremendous emotional trauma in childhood. If she was told to repeatedly keep her feelings to herself or her emotional needs were unmet, then this could have caused her to ignore discussions about “feelings” as a coping mechanism. In my post, Emotional Abandonment: When a Mother’s Love Abandons You I discuss emotional neglect as withholding love. Love in motherhood is expressed when a child’s emotional core needs are met in a safe and nurturing way.
There is also the possibility that these mothers experienced emotional pain and did not have adequate training on how to overcome difficult trials in life. I read a very thought provoking quote by Stephi Wagner, pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it. This means that these mothers will pass on their emotional pain and experiences onto their children until someone finally faces the pain from that generation.
Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it.Stephi Wagner
Many toxic mothers who have experienced emotional trauma are not ready to sort through their painful emotions. They will numb themselves, avoid, escape, engage in harmful actions, and eventually project their own trauma onto their children.
Dismissive mothers have mother wounds and are not able to identify the wounds that bind them. They are easily offended by offenses based on their past trauma with their own mothers. They do not understand how their actions affect others because they lack identity. In essence, they do not know their inheritance and spiritual DNA in Christ Jesus. They have allowed their wounds to dictate who they are called to be in God. Often times, toxic mothers will have resentment towards their children due to unexpected triggers from childhood.
Emotionally dismissive mothers may have felt unsafe to be vulnerable with their fathers. Fathers are meant to provide emotional security and protection. When this does not happen, a child can grow up not feeling supported in making decisions or speaking up on weighty matters.
Signs of father wounds include:
- No support and guidance
- Lack of emotional security and protection
- Father was overly critical in childhood
- An emotionally dismissive mother fears rejection and abandonment,
- Critical with herself and will project this on her child
- Performance mentality
Related post:Daddy’s girl: How to Heal Father Wounds With God
Toxic mothers lack emotional maturity. They do not have maturity in setting emotional boundaries with unsafe people and are unable to self-regulate negative emotions. I remember in childhood how my mother almost never apologized for causing me harm both emotionally and spiritually.
How to Heal
Accept your mother for who she is now
It is important to accept your mother for who she is now instead of what you expect her to be. If you expect your mother to be loving, caring, and nurturing but her actions are in contradiction to these traits, then it is time to lay down these expectations at God’s altar. Continuing to expect your mother to behave according to your emotional needs will lead you on a path of further heart ache.
Don’t make excuses
You don’t have to make excuses for your mother dismissing your emotions. If toxic people in your life are making excuses for her actions with statements such as “ but she’s your mother” she’s done so much for you, just give her a break, then it is time to say no to these excuses. Many people especially close family members will feed into the emotional toxicity. Don’t fall for it or make excuses for her behavior.
You are responsible for your own emotions
Although emotional patterns can pass on from generation to generation, you are still held accountable for your own emotions. You are responsible in allowing God to give you a new heart, soul, and mind. You can do this by first loving God with all of your soul. Scripture reads, I have the found the one whom my soul loves ( Song of Solomon 3:4). God is in the business of restoring your soul. He does it by loving the areas of your soul that was emotionally neglected.
In my early journey of God healing me from emotional trauma, the Lord reminded that my mother could not love me as He commanded in His word. However, God stepped in to love me unconditionally to the point of overflowing with his beautiful perfume ( His presence) so that I will never question again if I am loved. God loves you dear one. Allow Him to fill the role of meeting your emotional needs today.
Read the series on emotional trauma: Emotional Trauma