Mother never loved me. How can I forgive her?
Family and relationships
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When she was little, the girl always felt that her mom did not like her.

She felt that it was hard for mom to play with her or help with her homework.

She felt that mom was annoyed any time the girl talked to her, needed her attention or asked for help.

She felt that mom used any opportunity to ship her off anywhere and have her stay with anyone, simply so she could chit-chat with her girlfriends, have some time to herself or be with her husband.

She felt that for mom, her own daughter was a nuisance...

Usually, such stories end with a general, if silent, judgement on the mother “How could she treat her own child like that!” “The little girl is an innocent, why treat her that way?”

Not this time. You will find no judgement on mothers or pity for  children in this article. You have to stay objective in order to understand and forgive. No amount of blame, recrimination or submersion in horrid memories will help.

Two sides of lovelessness

The child’s pain. Our first reaction is to call the mother heartless. That is because we realize in our grown-up mind just how painful being unloved is. The children think that they have done something wrong, that they are not good enough, didn’t try hard enough, weren’t nice enough, didn’t get good grades or caused a lot of trouble.

Later on, in their adult life, such girls believe that they are not worthy of love and that is why they often end up in terrible trouble with family abuse, drugs and so on.

The mother’s pain. There is also another side, the side of the mothers who could not love their little ones. None of them complain, ask for help, or even just for advice from a friend.

They are ashamed and afraid to admit that their own blameless little one only annoys them. The flitting thought “Why did I ever give birth to you?” only makes the situation worse.

Except it’s the everyday truth. You cannot run away from it, just like you cannot run away from your unloved child.

So, as it happens, the “Why doesn’t mummy love me?” situation is not quite clear cut. We have two victims. Whose fault is it? What do we do with childhood memories of being unloved? How do we forgive mother who was supposed to love us unconditionally, but didn’t?

The maternal love button did not work

I am sure you have seen in a movie a woman who takes her child in her arms for the first time and shines with love and tenderness. She feels that she is the happiest woman in the world and immediately forgets all the horrors of child birth.

This movie sequence is based on a real physiological phenomenon: generation of oxytocin. When you first breast feed, there is a powerful generation of hormones that turns the mother into a tigress ready to protect her young from anything in the world.

However, not everyone gets to enjoy this oxytocin euphoria. Around 20% of mothers feel neither tenderness nor love towards their child. Their aloofness can be explained quite scientifically, on the biological level. The mechanism of hormone generation did not work and there is no awesome happiness, no maternal instinct.

Such mothers raise their children on the basis of social obligations, but they don’t enjoy dealing with the little ones. It is not their fault; it is their biologically based misfortune.

Everyone wants their parents to love them unconditionally. Everyone dreams of their childhood being fairy-like: when mom takes you in her arms and tells you that you are her greatest happiness and love. Life is not a fairy tale, though.

The mother, whose story I told at the beginning was unlucky with oxytocin generation. It is her misfortune and the child’s, unfortunately. But no one is to blame for this, it is just bad luck.

The mother would love to feel a flood of tenderness and happiness when dealing with her little one. Yet, she feels nothing and so she is cheated – everyone’s lucky, except for her.

Imagine her horror when she realizes that she does not feel as she should. Imagine how she blames herself for being heartless and how ashamed of herself she feels looking at the happy moms around the playground…

Hormonal love left without a farewell

There is also a different kind of situation. For many, when a child turns 2 or 3, the oxytocin suddenly shuts down and the mother has no idea how it happened.

Why before she was filled with tenderness, emotions and maternal instinct and then all these feelings vanished in a moment. All that is left is irritation that a little yelling creature needs constant attention.

Is it the child’s fault that mom’s biology did not kick in?

If this is the story of your relations with your mom, you have to realize two things:

  • First of all, this is not because you are naughty or good, not because you did something wrong. If your mother was among the 20% of women whose biology did not kick in, she could not love you even if you were an ideal child.
  • Secondly, there are things that we have no control over. Neither your mother nor you had any control whatsoever over her love for the baby.

Worrying about it is equivalent to worrying about your height or your hair color. Some have brown hair and some have blond hair. Some people grow to be 5’7’’ and some stay at 4’11” all their life. That’s just nature and there is nothing you can do about it.

“Why did it happen to me?”

The first reaction to “You were unlucky that is why your mother did not love you,” is being sorry for yourself, as well as loud complaints and angry questions,

“Why me?”

“Do I deserve this?”

No, you do not deserve it. Yes, life is unfair. Some things just happen. Do you want to move forward? Do you want the fact that your parent did not love you to stop impacting your life now? Accept the fact.

To make it easier to deal with being sorry for yourself, think about this: in nature the “love for posterity did not turn on” scenario happens just as often as with people. Remember all the cats or dogs where that same “cuckoo mode” took place.

It happens that the mother cat does not want to feed the kittens. She simply leaves them. In wild nature, if there is a glitch and the biological mechanism does not come on – the litter dies.

It’s different for people. Sometimes the mother gets rid of the child by putting it up for adoption. However, the vast majority saves their posterity even if they don’t feel love. The reason for such responsibility is social obligations and fear of being denounced by society.

It seems that your mother did have a choice of what to do with an unloved child. However, there is nothing at all that could be done with the fact that the biological processes did not turn on.

“Why does mom love my brother, but not me?”

It can happen that love did not come on only for the first child, but came for the following ones. It may be that you are the result of an accidental pregnancy. Think about it, back then a pregnant woman without a husband did not have an easy time of it. She was followed by censure, leers, rumor and gossip for nine months.

The woman was certainly scared of giving birth without a husband and she kept running over her various fears in her mind and couldn’t sleep at night for worrying. In part the oxytocin love did not turn on because the hormones were blocked by stress.

The second baby was born in entirely different circumstances. It was wanted and planned. It was born in marriage with a loved man. And so the maternal instinct worked right.

There is a lot of psychosomatics in this mechanism. Love is blocked when mother is in a survival situation, even if it is not physical survival. If there is a threat, the maternal instinct falters.

Not justify, but accept and live on

So, why have this conversation about mothers who don’t love their children? The only way to step over this lack of mother’s love, over this childhood trauma is to realize that no one is to blame.

There is no monster who made your childhood a nightmare, but there are two unhappy people – the little one and the big one.

I am not calling on you to justify “bad” mothers. Despite biological reasons, they had a choice. You may not feel the oxytocin dependency, but you can still love the child with a grown-up, conscious love, like you love your friends, for example.

Your task is to realize that it could not have happened differently. To stop your internal grievances, complaints and expectations directed at your mother; to stop thinking “If only mom loved me… I would be different now; I would live better and be happier.” Enough looking back and regretting.

Start simply living. Right now. In your present. You are all grown up – love yourself.


Date of publication: 20 November 2018
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