top of page

40 Ways My Mom Gave Me The Mother Wound

“The single hardest burden for a human being to carry is a lack of nurturance in childhood.” - Steven C. Hayes

Kid with crayons

The number one question I’m asked by people who’ve recently found my community on Instagram is, “What’s the mother wound?” My answer is the mother wound is all the pain or trauma someone has experienced from their mother plus all the coping mechanisms they developed as a result. Mother wound coping mechanisms include things like:

  • Anxiety, CPTSD, or panic disorder.

  • Harsh self-talk.

  • Weak to non-existent boundaries.

  • Being conflict avoidant.

  • High levels of guilt and shame.

The next question people inevitably ask me—“Does X cause the mother wound?”—has me relaying this much less satisfying but equally truthful answer: “It depends.” Here’s why it depends: What results in a mother wound for one person won’t necessarily result in the mother wound for another person. Studies consistently show that people can experience the same exact thing, yet walk away with completely different experiences, reactions, and perspectives. This is why, for example, one sibling can have the mother wound while another sibling doesn’t. It’s not that one sibling is automatically lying while the other is telling the truth; it might simply be that each sibling is telling their own truth.

In this blog post, I’m sharing a list of 40 things that I believe have caused me to have the mother wound. As you read my list, please keep in mind that it’s not meant to be “the worst mother wound list” or even an exhaustive mother wound list. It’s simply the list that came to mind for me earlier today while I was doing my daily journaling about my own mother wound. Instead of identifying with everything on my list, my hope is that you might recognize yourself in one or two of my examples and know you aren’t alone or be inspired to make your own list. Remember: every mother wound is different and every mother would is valid.

And now for that list I was telling you about.

My mother wound is…

1. My mother wound is Mom making kid me think I was responsible for her feelings.

2. My mother wound is Mom taking 12-year-old me to Weight Watchers.

3. My mother wound is Mom saying, “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know how Dad hurt you.”

4. My mother wound is Mom treating kid me like her on-call therapist rather than the child I actually was.

5. My mother wound is kid me watching Mom slap her stomach while standing in front of her bathroom mirror and then saying, “I can’t have a nice body because I had you kids.”

6. My mother wound is Mom making kid me feel like it was my job to parent my siblings.

7. My mother wound is Mom saying “That never happened” and “You’re just looking for something to be upset about” to gaslight and discredit me.

8. My mother wound is Mom oversharing with kid me about her sex life.

9. My mother wound is Mom screaming at me, “You’re not part of this family!”

10. My mother wound is Mom continuing to tell people I have borderline personality disorder even though I’ve never been diagnosed with that and have asked her many times to stop.

11. My mother wound is Mom hitting kid me and then kid me blaming myself to cope with the trauma.

12. My mother wound is Mom pinning 9-year-old me to the garage floor on Keemont while I sobbed and begged her to stop.

13. My mother wound is Mom telling my brother to include our sister in his wedding party but not to include me after I had included him in mine.

14. My mother wound is Mom calling 13-year-old me a bitch.

15. My mother wound is Mom saying “I’m blocking you” and “don’t contact me” last fall.

16. My mother wound is Mom telling kid me I’m “big boned.”

17. My mother wound is the physical scar I have on my right leg from when Mom burned me with her curling iron.

18. My mother wound is Mom refusing to be there for me when I needed her because “I don’t help married people.”

19. My mother wound is Mom saying, “You’d be so much prettier if you just lost 10 pounds.”

20. My mother wound is Mom not wanting me to be happy with anyone else besides her.

21. My mother wound is Mom body shaming me about the size of my breasts.

22. My mother wound is watching Mom say nothing while Dad would hurt me and my siblings.

23. My mother wound is Mom lying about me to my sister in order to drive a wedge between us (she was successful for a time).

24. My mother wound is Mom saying to 11-year-old me, “That boy’s just doing that because he likes you,” when I told her a classmate was repeatedly threatening to kill me.

25. My mother wound is Mom telling teen me “those jeans don’t do anything for your flat butt.”

26. My mother wound is Mom saying, “At least you know you can get pregnant” when I suffered a miscarriage.

27. My mother wound is Mom choosing my abusive father over me every.single.time.

28. My mother wound is knowing Mom would watch me bleed out on the street just to teach me a lesson.

29. My mother wound is Mom abandoning me and her baby grandson an hour away from home in an empty parking lot on a winter night.

30. My mother wound is Mom cutting off Grandma Joan and Poppy Bill when I was a kid because she “needed to” and then turning around and calling adult me abusive for cutting her off.

31. My mother wound is Mom treating me like her possession rather than my own full person.

32. My mother wound is Mom telling me adopting a child instead of becoming pregnant would be the same thing as “killing your real baby.”

33. My mother wound is Mom continuing to take 14-year-old me to the chiropractor I told her was touching me inappropriately.

34. My mother wound is kid me not being able to see my best friend Malorie for months at a time whenever Mom was giving Beth, Malorie’s mom, the silent treatment.

35. My mother wound is Mom forcing teen me to practice her version of Christianity instead of letting me decide my spirituality for myself.

36. My mother wound is Mom making teen me ashamed and afraid of my own sexuality.

37. My mother wound is Mom breaking her promise to pay for my undergraduate degree not because she could no longer afford to but because she “hoped” I’d break things off with my now husband.

38. My mother wound is Mom not believing me when I said, “Dad did something so hurtful it’s hard to talk about.”

39. My mother wound is Mom giving me the silent treatment to manipulate me into compliance.

40. My mother wound is Mom playing the victim and refusing to apologize for the things on this list.


Meet Reclaim!

Stephi Wagner, MSW's 60-day mother wound healing journal is here! If you like what Stephi shares on Instagram, you won't want to miss this. Mother wound recovery here you come!

reclaim - 60-day mother wound journal


Learn about how the Mother Wound Project can help with 1:1 support.

bottom of page