6 Unhelpful Things People Say to Mother Wound Survivors

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

You know they aren't helpful when you hear them. In this post we're talking about the why.



1. “At least you have a mom.”


Ah the “at least” opener. You can’t miss my sarcasm, can you?


Rarely (if ever) does a truly supportive statement start with the words “at least.”


Having a mom (or a spouse, or a friend) isn’t automatically better than not having them in your life, especially if having them in your life means experiencing pain and/or trauma. And in many cases, it’s actually worse.


2. "But your mom seems so nice."


For starters, “nice” is a super relative descriptor. What seems nice to one person won’t seem nice to another.


And beyond that, a mother who causes the mother wound isn’t necessarily mean to everyone. She can still know how to act in ways that other people will perceive as nice while being hurtful towards her own child.


What’s more, some moms who cause the mother wound (MWMs) even want other people to think she’s nice so they will be less likely to believe her child about how she has treated them.


3. "Someday she'll be gone."


Someday every person who has ever walked this earth will be gone. Can you imagine if this excuse was used for other things?


“Someday that drunk driver will be gone,” or “Someday that dishonest politician will be gone.”


The mere fact that someone will die someday is not a valid reason to not hold them accountable for the pain they caused while they are still here.


4. "At least your mom wasn't..."


Here’s that good old “at least” again.


As you’ve maybe already noticed, some people are really insistent on trying to direct mother wound survivors to the it-could-have-been-worse silver-linings.


I’ll talk more about why this is in an upcoming blog post, but for now just know that no amount of bright-side-looking changes the less-than-bright realities of someone’s lived experiences with their own mom that caused them to experience pain and/or trauma.


Someone whose mom hit them emotionally with her cruel words still hurt them even if she didn’t hit them physically, and the constant fact that things could always be worse doesn’t cancel out the hurt that already is.


5. "But she's your mom!"


When my mother wound clients tell me someone has said this one to them, I often imagine myself blankly saying, “Okay?” to whoever said it to them. What I’d love to say to them of course is, “And your point is?” but I know that won’t be helpful.


What is helpful, however, is helping my clients to see that comment for just how ridiculous and not-about-them it is.


Would the person who said, “But she’s your mom!” to them be willing to say, “But he’s your husband” to a woman who is fleeing from domestic violence or “But he’s your boss!” to someone who has been sexually harassed at work? I really hope not.


The role someone plays in your life doesn’t preclude them from acting in ways that are hurtful to you, and this includes your mom.


6. "You should feel grateful."


But whoever is saying this isn’t the person they are talking to, so how can they possibly know how that person (again, the person who isn’t them) should feel?


There's no trick question here. The answer is they can’t. Telling someone how they should feel makes about as much sense as telling someone what colors they should like or what music they should enjoy.


People feel how they feel about their mom and how she treated them, and that’s 100% okay.


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