Verbally Abusive Mothers and Their Daughters

November 4, 2021 Cheryl Wozny

The effects of verbal abuse from a girl's mother may not only have detrimental effects on her self-esteem and self-awareness but may also change her perception of how she should act as a grown woman. Without a healthy example of a mothering role, girls can grow up thinking abusive behavior is normal and expected. 

I have two girls and have found myself saying, more times than I would like to admit, things that were said to me as a child, spewing forth the verbal abuse that has bounced around in my head for over 45 years. Each day, I try to be more conscious of the words that leave my mouth and enter my girls' ears. Even though I still make mistakes and am far from perfect, when I use questionable words or actions, I aim to apologize and move towards providing a healthier environment for them. 

Some Telltale Signs of Verbal Abuse from Moms to Daughters

Sometimes, typical argumentative behaviors become confused with verbal abuse. It is natural to be angry and not agree with everything your mother does, but how she handles these situations will indicate if your mother is verbally abusive. Some telltale signs of a mother who uses verbal abuse can be: 

  • She uses guilt to get you to do what she wants
  • She gives you the silent treatment
  • She belittles you or calls you names 
  • She is extremely critical of you or your choices 
  • She blames you for ruining her life 
  • She responds irrationally or unpredictably 
  • Nothing is good enough for her 
  • She uses passive-aggressive tactics 

Of course, this is not a complete list of things verbal abusers say and do, and there may be other ways your mother is acting verbally abusive. 

Why Verbal Abuse? 

Surprisingly, there may be many more women who verbally abuse their children than you might believe. Someone outside the home cannot see verbal abuse unless they are present at that time.

Some women may feel inferior to their partners, making up for it by establishing dominance over their children. Other mothers may suffer from mental health issues, altering what they think is acceptable behavior. In my case, I fell victim to repeat abusive comments I received as a child. 

There is no excuse for verbally abusing a child. But, no matter the reason, this type of behavior should stop before it creates more damage or continues the cycle of abuse for future generations. 

How to Heal

Healing the effects of verbal abuse from your mother can be challenging. You may have questions that even she cannot answer for you. Even with all the reasons why a woman may abuse her children, there also may be no reason at all, making it even more difficult to understand why it happened to you. 

One way that I manage to heal my broken self-esteem and avoid repeating the same behaviors with my children is through therapy. I spent countless hours over many years rebuilding the image of what I believe a mother should be and how she should act.

Consequently, when a situation with my girls arises in my life now, I take the time to stop and really think about how to proceed. I do not want to make the same mistakes in the past or fall into the same habits I learned as a child. 

It can be a hard road to heal and move forward from verbal abuse, but it is worth the effort. It is critical for you and your girls. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2021, November 4). Verbally Abusive Mothers and Their Daughters, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

Jeanne Francaise Nassali Jjumba
April, 27 2023 at 1:20 pm

Most times hurting people revenge by hurting innocent people instead of hurting the culprit.

March, 10 2023 at 6:26 pm

I saw it in my ex of 8 years, she had two beautiful daughters 23 & 21, the eldest was the scapegoat and the youngest was the golden child. My ex's mother bullied and belittled my ex ( I knew her and the family from childhood) and this behaviour of the mother became so engrained it simply became the norm and my exes template in life ( but not her 3 other sisters). Both the young daughters but especially the scapegoat are crushed and have v v low self esteem and confidence, sad. V v sad.

December, 26 2022 at 7:06 pm

Why do persist on being abusive to your children if you know it's wrong? It would seem the damage is done already.

February, 22 2023 at 1:36 am

Although I agree with your thoughts about knowingly continuing to behave in a verbally or emotionally damaging way after you know that what you say is wrong, there are many pitfalls that effect mothers who were abused & neglected as children. My mother is a deeply covert narcissist who’s always been emotionally abusive & extremely neglectful mother. I hated her behavior so much that I grew up knowing that I would never be that kind of mother, & instead I was always willing to do anything for my children, to an extreme.
As adults, two of my three children were overly dependent, & relied on me for everything. They could be quite nasty when I refused to do their bidding, or explained that they needed to take more responsibility for their words or actions.
Ironically, my mother treated my two kids by my first husband, (who was aloof & self-centered), like they were perfect, she forged a bond that eventually led to the both of them being rude, demanding, & spoiled, which was happily encouraged by my own mother. I finally had to quit seeing my older, adult kids & my mother, as they all exhibited their ugly, verbally & emotionally abusive behavior towards my third child. I still do what as it worsened over the years, I had to protect my youngest & myself from their horrible behaviors, until I could no longer see my child hurt by those who should have loved her, & cut ties with them. As hard as it was to do, I knew that nothing could stop their malicious treatment except for separation. They’d let me know even before that time that they “hated me” & didn’t want to see us either.
No matter how much you may feel sad or guilty, there may be no way to mitigate their behaviors. Verbal, emotional abuse, & neglect have ways to cause a riff or ruin relationships over generations, no matter what is done to try to overcome it.

March, 10 2023 at 6:18 pm

They were abused by their own mother and are simply carrying on the abuse without any cognitive realisation that it's abuse.

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