Not all unhealthy mother-child relationships stem from drugs, divorce, abuse or abandonment. Sometimes it’s a parent who, although present, doesn’t want to act like one.
“I view very strongly that I was not put here to be my child’s friend,” says Alicia Gammon, who is both a biological and foster mother. “I can’t do a good job if I’m their friend. I have to be able to make those hard decisions. I have to be able to say, ‘No.’ I have to be able to draw the line in the sand and hold that, in order to help my child in the long run.”
Gammon says whether by viewing one’s child as a bestie instead of setting boundaries and being unpopular now and again, or being a helicopter parent who drives the child to succeed, ostensibly for their own good, such behaviors carry their own set of negative consequences.
“Mom’s not being the best role model,” she says. “In some cases, it’s, ‘Let’s go do what’s fun and let’s go shop.’ Instead of saying, ‘Hey, maybe that shirt is not the best cut for you,’ it’s, ‘Maybe we’ll both get that.’ You’re not establishing those boundaries that the kids need.
“Other times, it’s the push for perfection; moms often think that they need to have a career, that they need to have a beautifully kept house, that they need to go to all of their kids’ activities, they need to be the perfect wife for their husband. That just exhausts her and the kids themselves. Trying to be the best mom and the best everything can be very detrimental to their relationship with their kids.”