For as many Rory and Lorelai-type mother and daughter duos, there are just as many women out there who have strained, toxic, or just super difficult relationships with their mom. Our pop culture (and our own loving hearts) makes it seem that all moms and daughters should be BFFs, dishing about their love lives, cheering each other on, and generally being a safe space for each other. But that doesn’t happen all the time, and if you’re the kind of woman who gets a panic attack just thinking about a visit from your mom, it might be time to cut ties with your mom.
For sure, that idea can go against every fiber of your being. It’s your mom. But even though we have close ties with our parents, there are times when those ties do more harm than good for our mental, or even physical, health. If you think you have a toxic mom, it might be useful to reach out to a counselor or someone to talk through the issues on your end and figure out what’s going to be best for you going forward. It won’t be pretty and it certainly won’t be easy, but once you cut ties with a toxic mom, you can start taking care of yourself a lot better.
There might be some other family members or friends who will question your move to cut ties with a toxic mom and try to convince you that you’re being aggressive or overly dramatic. But that has more to do with their relationships with their parents (and their own fear maybe of cutting them off). Whatever you decide to do with your mom is an act of self-care.
Here are six times when it’s totally ok to cut ties with your mom.
1You’ve been parenting her for too long.
There are so many different kinds of dynamics between moms and daughters. Sometimes, the relationship is strained because your mother deals with a mental illness, substance abuse, or some other issue that leaves you being the one in charge. But taking care of your mom doesn’t have to be your job if it’s hurting you and becoming an obstacle from moving forward in your own life. Take as big a step away as you need to.
2She doesn’t accept your lifestyle.
Seeking approval, acceptance, and love from our parents is natural. Which is why when they don’t accept your life choices—your sexual orientation, your children, the job or city you love—it hurts. Like, a lot.
But you need to make own your choices and your mom should accept them. Because she’s supposed to accept YOU. If she can’t come around about something and makes you feel like dirt about the way you live your life, it’s time to cut ties until she can work on her stuff and accept you for who you are.
3You don’t accept her lifestyle.
Every thing goes both ways. Maybe you don’t accept her choice in partners or you have to keep bailing her out of a financial crisis. Maybe she’s doing any number of things that you can’t sit back and watch happen.
If you find yourself giving your mother grief and fighting with her about things in her life that you can’t deal with, you need to get out of the relationship until you can deal with her in a healthy way. Judging people until it leads to conflict and emotional pain isn’t good coming from either direction.
4She doesn’t accept the boundaries you set.
If you’ve been working through your stuff and have already tried to set boundaries with your mom, good for you! Boundaries are good because they can stop us from having to cut ties. Maybe you tell your mom that you don’t talk anymore about that *one thing* that always sets off a fight. Or you set a limit to visits or calls. It can be any number of things.
But if you’ve had a heart to heart and communicated these boundaries to your mother and she still doesn’t respect them, that’s her loss. You’ve done everything you could do to make it work.
5She gives you an emotional hangover.
Growing up with a toxic parent can give you a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether it was an extreme borderline personality disorder situation, a lá Joan Crawford or just major anxiety, a lot of that *stuff* sticks around even when you get older. For some people, going home to visit their mother means emotional turmoil for days before and after the visit. Or phone call. Or even the mere thought of a visit or phone call.
Yes, some people love when their moms come to visit and have brunch and get their nails done. Good for them. That doesn’t have to be you, though. If you get anxiety or get sad before and after dealing with your mom, take a break. It’s ok to look after yourself first and foremost.
6You’ve tried to talk it out too many times.
When every visit or moment with your mom is negative, it’s time to call the game. You can only have so many emotional, in depth talks about boundaries and needs before those conversations start to turn into yet another way you and your mom hurt each other.
Yes, cutting ties with your mom is a big deal and deserves some attention. But, just like with toxic friends or romantic partners, there comes a time when there’s no other way for everyone to be happy except not being around each other.
It’s sad and hard to cut ties with your mom—but it will get better once you make the right decision. You’re brave and smart enough to know what’s best for you.