Wednesday, 8 May 2019

How to survive Mother's Day if you had a dysfunctional childhood

Mother’s Day has been long gone in England, however, its blissfully artificial fantasy will soon take place in America. I missed out writing about Mother’s Day when it happened in UK, however, I think it is still important to address the issues associated with this event. Mother’s Day can cause past trauma, negative memories and suffering from childhood to resurface.

Being bombarded with images of happy families in their picture-perfect homes is nothing but torture for the mind. If you have had a dysfunctional childhood in which your parent did not love you or care - you may ask yourself – how do I survive this celebration?  How do I cope with being motherless / parent-less?

Accept your negative childhood experiences

The first step in finding solace is accepting your negative childhood experiences. By acceptance, I don’t mean forcing yourself to believe that what happened to you is okay. Acceptance means understanding that similar experiences happen for a lot of people. It means that you should not feel ashamed, you should not blame yourself for having bad parents or a Mother who did not offer support to you.  I think when we are young we become products of our parents and their mistakes. As you grow up, you can detach yourself from them and just accept the experiences as they are without any personal involvement. Treat yourself with kindness instead of criticism, negative childhood experiences have not ruined you as a person – I promise.

Stop comparing yourself to others

When your brain is over-thinking, over-analysing a specific aspect of your life – it will dedicate all your attention resources towards finding evidence to basically prove a point. If you keep thinking that you are the only one without a happy family or a great Mother – happy families, perfect Mothers will appear in front of your eyes. This relates to this thing called “Negativity Bias”. The best way to avoid doing this is to stop comparing yourself to others. Stop thinking that other people have it better than you, that they had better experiences. Individuals and their situations are complex, meaning that they cannot be compared unless they are simplified to their insignificant parts. You are you – no one else, so stop wishing that you had someone else’s childhood or family.

Distract yourself with something else

When the digital images of happy families, happy children, and their Mother’s start bombarding you, the best thing to do is to switch your social media off and distract yourself with something else. Whether it is working on a project or simply reading a book with a cuppa, do not risk yourself being absorbed in all this information related to Mother’s Day. When you are distracted, you may even forget that is Mother’s Day.

Understand that perfect families are not real

Key thing that you should understand is that perfect families are not real. It doesn’t matter how someone’s family or Mother appears to you. You will never know what happens behind closed doors. The perfect family representation that is depicted in the media is nothing but means of selling products and experiences – holidays, meals out and the like. When you understand that the perfect family does not exist, you will also realise that you have not missed out on this experience of having a perfect childhood. Perfect childhood, being raised in a picture-perfect family is fiction.

Know that you are loved

Over the course of your life, you have probably met a lot of people (even if you are a complete introvert like myself). It doesn’t matter whether the people in your life are your friends, your colleagues or online buddies. Every individual has qualities that are worth respect. Every individual is loved by others for different reasons. You may have a partner who loves you or a friend who will always support you unconditionally. Love comes in different forms. Most importantly, having a dysfunctional childhood does not make you unlovable.   

Keep moving forward in life

Despite all that has happened to you in your childhood, you should never stagnate. You should never fill yourself with gloom. Keep moving forward in life, working towards your goals. Be an ambitious fighter. Do not succumb to the negativity triggered by the memories of your childhood experiences.  Feeling a sense of achievement as you move forward the ladder of life will help you feel good within yourself. It will make you realise that your life does not depend on having a fantastic childhood or being raised well by your parents. You are an independent individual – able to do great things in life, you just have to be determined.

This is all my advice in relation to Mother’s Day. Everything I have mentioned comes from a deep place of my heart and personal experience. I guess this advice can be applied to life in general not just Mother’s Day. Sometimes ordinary days can be difficult if you have had experienced life in a dysfunctional family. Some painful memories can come back without any reason. You can even experience your childhood in dreams. On top of everything else that I have mentioned, remember that the past is past. You can’t change the past, but you are the architect of your future.

Accept your experiences, do not compare yourself to others, find distractions and realise that perfect families are fictional, know that you are loved and keep moving forward -this will help you survive Mother’s day and life in general.


  1. This is such a great post that can be applied to so many different situations, whether its about family, friends, coworkers, or any other relationships you may have. Thanks for sharing!

  2. My relationship with my mum wasn't great when I was a child and teen. I've got much closer to her as an adult, probably due to shared trauma and me living away. It's just another day so try not to think about it. I mean, only America celebrates it on that day so it's just another day elsewhere!

  3. These are great reminders for anyone with a traumatic relationship. There is no such thing as perfection, like you say. Just focus on the now and moving forward and enjoying life.

  4. This is a good reminder for people that like other holidays they aren’t always a happy experience for everyone. You have given some great tips to help others dealing with these difficult situations! Thank you for sharing. Lauren |