There is a fragile line between giving a child life skills and building a relationship with them where they feel safe and secure. Many experience the former and spend a lifetime trying to connect to a mother who often does not have the internal resources to go beyond tasking.
So many women I meet experienced mothers who were great at tasking but cannot emotionally connect. These moms taught them life skills but not a secure attachment. The relationship consists of them pleasing mom by carrying out the assigned task but receiving nothing in return. In the eyes of some moms from this era, food, clothing and shelter are as much a confirmation of love as anything else. That is the only way they know how to say ‘I love you’. However, these moms are not equipped to do the emotional stuff. You can stay stuck in this relationship for years and move out of childhood and enter an unhealthy, toxic relationship as an adult.
Often daughters in this position were not raised to be aware of or meet their emotional needs. One woman said ‘I didn’t rely on anyone because I was raised not to recognise my needs; therefore, I felt no one knew how to meet them’. Though she didn’t know how to name her emotional needs, she was keenly aware of any defecits.
There is good news; you can break the cycle with mom:
Be aware of the narrative between your mom.
The narrative contains the sequence of looking after mom’s feelings and being trapped in a place of fear just in case something might be not to her standards.
It’s important to know how forgiveness, compassion, respect, culture and guilt will play into how you break free or if you can break free from this cycle. For example, guilt might influence you to have compassion without boundaries.
Implement safe boundaries
All healthy relationships have safe limits. Decide what kind of relationship you would like to have with mom. An important point to note: A boundary is a need and you are used to not having needs met with mom, it might be useful to have support to help you identify and articulate what you would like. Support will also help you maintain these boundaries and look after you.
The need to be needed
In other words, this kind of relationship in early life could set you up to be co-dependent as an adult. Understand that the root of this pattern stems from the habit that you had to develop early in life. The mother might say I am raising you to be independent. However, for true independence to be achieved you need first to be dependent especially in the formative years.