It could be said that to some degree all mothers are controlling and that they have to be. From the very beginning a child has to have the right discipline and guidance to develop.
However, what happens when this control is taken to the extreme and the child is taken advantage of?
A Special Relationship
The relationship a child has with its mother is usually the most important relationship. And this relationship not only plays a massive role in the Childs development; it also goes a long way in defining what kind of adult the child will later become.
An adult's sense of self, self worth and idea of what love is and many other things, are largely the consequence of the relationship they had with their mother when they were a child. And as the child has come from (through) the mother; it is only natural for this relationship to be unlike any other. This is why there can be serious problems for one's life if this relationship is dysfunctional and abusive.
So above I mentioned how it is normal for there to be some control; but what is happening when the mother goes to the extreme and controls the child?
First of all, we can see that there is a boundary issue here. The mother has no idea where she begins and ends and where the child begins and ends. And so the child is then perceived as being an extension of the mother.
And if the child is an extension of the mother and not separate; it is only natural for the Childs own needs to be ignored and dismissed.
The Child's Needs
What also happens as a result of this is the child ends up being enmeshed to the mother. Here the child is then used to fulfil the needs of the mother. What is important to the Childs own development is then overlooked so that the mothers own needs are taken care of.
The psychological development of the mother does not match her chronological age. This is what is called the adult child and although the child is clearly a lot younger; when it comes to what is going on at an emotional and mental level, there might not be much difference.
How Does This Look?
There are certain patterns of behaviour involved here. What usually occurs from this behaviour is that the child is being invalidated and compromised.
The child will usually be treated in a way that says: do what I want and you will be accepted; don't do what I say and you will be rejected. The whole idea of unconditional love is nowhere to be found; what is found is obligation love.
Life And Death
At such a young age the child whole survival rests in the hands of the mother. And should the child go against the wishes of the mother it would be tantamount to death. The mere suggestion of rejection will be more than enough to control the child.
And during this time, it is not possible for the child to question what is going on, this ability has not yet been developed.
After the child has undergone many years and experiences of being invalidated, what is then likely to occur is an inner disconnection. This is the connection the child has with their own inner world. This consists of: needs, wants, feelings, thoughts, emotions, intuitions and other important and sacred aspects.
And because of this disconnection the child is then likely to grow up feeling dependent on the mother. The Childs identity will then not reflect what is true for the child; it will reflect what the mother has projected onto the child and what leads to approval.
When the child grows up it is then likely to have trouble understanding what is going on inside. It will be highly likely that this adult child will end up looking outside itself and to others; to know what to do, what to feel and how to think.
Why Does The Mother Control The Child?
I believe that there are four possible causes here. The mother feels powerless; does not know how to take care of her needs in a functional way; has poor boundaries and feels alone. I would also add that all this behaviour and any kind of abuse is only possible through lack of awareness. And that no one consciously abuses or takes advantage of another.
The mother controls the child because she feels that she has no control herself. And because she feels no inner control she has to control others to feel control. Due to the child being weaker and dependent; it cannot defend itself against such behaviour.
As well as feeling powerless the mother probably feels that she has no way of taking care of her own needs. It is probable that her mother/caregivers used her to do the same. This meant that her needs were denied and neglected. And because she was unaware of this and didn't learn how to take care of these needs; she carried out the same behaviour to her child.
As I have mentioned above; because the mother has no idea of where she starts and where she ends; it is not possible for her to notice this in another. And since she cannot see that her child is separate from her; it then becomes normal and natural to see the child as an extension of herself.
Out of the mothers feelings of emptiness and aloneness she controls the child. This means that the child can be used to fill her emptiness. And by the child becoming depended on the mother; the child will be unlikely to leave the mother. The child will also be used to regulate the mothers feeling of aloneness.
The Ego Mind
The negative ego mind interprets and views life through dysfunctional conditioning and trauma. What are then created are perceptions. And even though the experiences that have led to seeing life in this way are not empowering; the ego mind will hold on.
This is because they are classed as familiar to the ego mind and are therefore safe. So unless the association of what is safe changes; one will continue to carry out the same behavioural patterns and to perceive life in the same way.
Where Did It Begin?
The feeling of being powerless; of not knowing how to take care of one's needs; having poor boundaries and the feelings of aloneness do not belong to the child or even the mother; they have probably been carried from one generation to the other. For change to occur awareness has to enter. The mind has to be observed and the identification to the mind has to end.
If you feel this has been of value, please leave a comment, like or get in touch. And feel free to share this article.
Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
To book your free 15-minute consultation, click here.
That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.