Understanding the Mother Wound and Its Impact on Well-Being
Self Help

Understanding the Mother Wound and Its Impact on Well-Being


Mothers, who are often represented as the primary caregivers for their children, are known for the unconditional love they have for their kids. We often associate the mother-child relationship with traits like trust, empathy, nurture and comfort that help in the emotional and psychological well-being of children. They play an important role in our lives in shaping and moulding our sense of self.

But underneath this seemingly perfect relationship is a complicated phenomenon called the Mother Wound. It stems as a result of the relationship between the mother and child being strained or dysfunctional. The mother wound is often referred to as ‘mommy issues’ by today’s generation. Even while the word itself might make you wince, it does indeed convey some very serious suffering. This article will explore more into this concept and its implications.

Read More: “Daddy Issues” What is it actually?

What is Mother Wound?

The mother wound is not a medical diagnosis but a concept that refers to An unfavourable or dysfunctional relationship between a mother and her child can have long-lasting effects,  in emotional and psychological circles. The significant influence on a person’s sense of self-worth, identity development, and emotional regulation is shared by all symptoms, despite differences in strength and dynamics.

Signs of the Mother Wound

  • Thoughts of being unloved by their mother or loved less than others in the family
  • Problems concerning emotional attachment to the mother
  • Doubt on whether one can make a mistake and lose the relationship with the mother
  • Forever trying harder to be perfect, striving for your mom’s attention and approval 
  • Having to care for and protect your mother rather than taking care of her
  • Was extremely severe and never permitted the child to show distress
  • The mother had an undiagnosed health condition and had trouble with alcohol or substance abuse.


Even though there are various factors affecting mother wounds in adults, it is commonly caused by generational trauma, when the mother herself experiences trauma and proceeds to pass it down to her children involuntarily.

Other factors can include

  • Unrealistic expectations set by the maternal figure: Every parent sets some expectations for their child, especially in academics, but when those expectations turn high and unexpected the child cannot achieve them; creating a sense of failure, self-doubt and inadequacy in the kid.
  • Abuse: For example, a child who experienced emotional, physical or verbal abuse by their mother will be likely to grow up with a sense feeling of betrayal, dread, and mistrust.
  • Generational trauma: Mothers who experienced trauma in childhood are more likely to pass it down to their kids causing attachment issues in children when they grow up.
  • Authoritative parenting: Controlling behaviour can cause unhealthy fear in a child to her mother negatively affecting their capacity for taking chances, pursuing interests, growing independence, etc.

Psychological and Emotional Implications

Adults often show traits like fear of abandonment, validation-seeking behaviour, unable to showcase affection, difficulty in maintaining romantic relationships, etc if the mother’s wound is left unhealed. It is the Mother Wound that is the source of people’s joylessness and lack of closure: they feel an acute loss and trust. Thus, the lack of the mother’s care creates a great need for validation and love, which are often unsuccessfully searched for in relations with another person. Less positive emotions such as anger, resentment, and depression along with a raw hunger for a mother’s love become manifestations of internal conflict. Also, Mother Wound contributes to identity formation in the process of role transitions, and, thus, the value shifts concerning the self-image and other people’s images. There can be irrational perceptions of worthiness and competence which will lead to negative personal development and self-actualization. In this structure healing the Mother Wound also means healing a self-journey as well as a self-compassion process to regain one’s lost autonomy and retell new stories of strength and recovery.

The Path to Healing
  • Therapy: A judgement-free space will help to explore the cause of the presented injuries, cope with latent feelings, and try to change distorted patterns of thinking. Counsellors help to employ new mechanisms of dealing with unexpressed emotions, rebuilding connection experiences, and establishing balance in interpersonal interactions. Also, counselling helps in forgiveness and compassion and also in other areas of emotional rebuilding. In sum, therapy enables patients to become experts in their recovery through advocating and learning different strategies that improve the quality of their lives.
  • Acknowledge the wound: The wounds that the mother bears are another aspect that needs to be identified and accepted. Discuss your experiences without criticism, and find it is ok to experience and vocalise feelings as a human being.
  • Artistic expression: In this case, writing, acting, music and other types of art and forms of creating new works can all serve to raise awareness and point out unhealthy behaviour.
  • Exercising Self-compassion and self-care: Some of the restorative activities include taking a walk, meditating, and even going to get coffee with friends to undo the harm caused by the lack of mothering that one may have received when growing up.
  • Setting boundaries: Self-boundaries can also be defined as limits set in the context of interpersonal communications allowing a person to prevent oneself from being emotionally hurt, and maintain personal sovereignty while preserving the ability to foster adequate and healthy relationships with others. Due to the benefits, they provide by discouraging alternatives that lead to stress, risks, and jeopardized self-care, boundaries are constructive.

In conclusion, healing from maternal neglect or absence is a personal journey that involves therapy, acknowledging wounds, artistic expression, self-compassion, and setting boundaries. Therapy provides a safe space to explore emotions and learn coping strategies. Acknowledging the wounds, both within oneself and the mother, fosters understanding and compassion. Artistic expression helps to express emotions and shed light on unhealthy patterns. Practising self-compassion and self-care is vital for healing while setting boundaries protects emotional well-being. Together, these steps empower individuals to reclaim their worth and create a brighter future.

References +
  • Varghese, A. M. (2023). Mother Wound, Creative Collaboration and Relational Healing: Examining Graphic Vignettes from Are You My Mother? Graphic Medicine Review, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.7191/gmr.782
  • Mahmood, U., Fitzgibbon, J. F., & O’Donoghue, K. (2011). DO CHILDREN HEAL THEIR MOTHER’S WOUNDS? ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/295669050_DO_CHILDREN_HEAL_THEIR_MOTHER’S_WOUNDS
  • Iyengar, U., Rajhans, P., Fonagy, P., Strathearn, L., & Kim, S. (2019). Unresolved Trauma and Reorganization in Mothers: Attachment and Neuroscience Perspectives. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00110
  • The mother wound. (n.d.). Google Books. https://books.google.co.in/books/about/The_Mother_Wound.html?id=0N0mEAAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

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