EXPLORE | Healing the Mother Wound
EXPLORE | Mother Wound Healing
The mother wound is the result of having an absent or emotionally detached mother. It can even be the result of decades of trauma or abuse that haven’t been dealt with as each woman passes it on to the next generation.
Mother wounds can show up in our motherhood by acting as a pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction. Being so far extreme from what your mother was that it forms other unhealthy behaviors.
Trauma can pass through multiple generations completely unseen and is referred to as generational trauma. Some of these traumas have become so embedded within the family structure. That can make it almost impossible for the members to view the world any differently than they’ve been shown. Because of this, trauma cycles can easily continue. However, once you start digging and observing, these traumas can become obvious and hard to ignore.
Children are like sponges, constantly absorbing everything that they see, hear, and experience. They are soaking up newly learned behaviors every day, especially from their caretakers, their first trusted teachers. Children grow up observing certain ways of coping, thinking, or reacting.
These observations are “lessons” that are like seeds being planted in their minds. Those seeds are watered through witnessing the repetition of these behaviors or core beliefs from their trusted source. Each generation learns from the one before them, receiving messages about themselves and the world around them. What they do with those messages can either continue, change, or end the cycle of trauma.
Ways to Collectively Heal the Mother Wound
1. Untangle Society’s Unspoken Messages to Mothers
Mother Wound healing requires that you untangle the subtle, overt, and unspoken messages about motherhood and to mothers. This questioning leads to an internal reckoning with the definition of femininity, sovereignty, and womanhood. Society’s unspoken messages to mothers include:
"If motherhood is difficult then it’s your own fault."
"Shame on you if you’re not super-human."
"There are “natural mothers” for whom motherhood is easy. If you are not one of these, there is something deeply wrong with you."
"You’re supposed to be capable of handling it all with ease: having well-behaved children, being attractive, having a successful career, and a solid marriage."
2. Recognize the Roles of Sacrifice and Rage
For mothers who have indeed sacrificed so much to have children in our culture, it can truly feel like a rejection when your child surpasses or exceeds the dreams you thought possible for yourself. There may be a sense of feeling owed, entitled to, or needing to be validated by your children, which can be a very subtle but powerful manipulation.
This dynamic can cause the next generation of children to keep themselves small so that their mothers can continue to feel validated and affirmed in their identity as a mother, an identity that many have sacrificed so much for, but received so little support and recognition for in return.
3. Create a Safe Space for Rage
In our society, there is no safe place for a mother to vent her rage. And so often it comes out unconsciously to one’s children. A daughter is a very potent target for a mother’s rage because the daughter has not yet had to give up her personhood for motherhood.
The young child may remind the mother of their unlived potential. And if the child feels worthy enough to reject some of the patriarchal mandates that the mother has had to swallow, then they can easily trigger that underground rage for the mother.
4. Embrace Grief
The way for a mother to prevent directing their rage to their children and passing down the Mother Wound is for the mother to fully grieve and mourn their own losses. And to make sure that they are not relying on their children as their main source of emotional support.
Mothers liberate their children when they consciously process their own pain without making it their children's problem. In this way, mothers free their children to pursue their dreams without guilt, shame or a sense of obligation.