Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » Mother Distances Herself When Children Are Sick or Injured

Mother Distances Herself When Children Are Sick or Injured

Asked by on with 1 answer:

My mother has always had a strong attachment to my oldest brother and been rather detached and resentful of us other kids. She didn’t talk to us or show us physical affection or spend much time with us. she was never there and when she was it still felt like she was absent. She admitted to me that she wished she had only had my oldest brother and not my middle brother or I. she has chosen men and relationships over her children and let us all go and be raised by someone else one time or another throughout our lives. She never asks my oldest brother for anything or blames him for anything. She asks my other brother for things and demands or manipulates things from me. she wishes that my brothers talked to her more and hates that I talk to her so much. when my middle brother almost died she only visited him once in the hospital and helped as little as possible when he went home. she and I used to talk about everything and see each other everyday. I have a broken hip, my own fault, when I told her she cried and said she would come to the hospital immediately then talked only about her relationship for 45 minutes and didn’t come. From then on she only visited when asked for help and only if she had another excuse to be in the area. she only called once of her own accord 3 weeks after surgery, she talked about herself the entire time, begrudgingly asked how I was, then asked if I was still using a walker to get around. I was going to work for her this summer which would have made her life a lot easier for her to see her boyfriend, when I told her that I was going to be laid up for quite a while she offered no sympathy or even acknowledgement and changed the subject back to herself and got off the phone. That was 3 weeks ago and haven’t heard from her since. Sorry its long and broken up by facts-but any insights on what’s going on or what I should do would really help. I would like to resolve this lifelong issue with her and move on with my life.

Mother Distances Herself When Children Are Sick or Injured

Answered by on -


 The resolution is in moving on. Your mother seems to lack a core empathy for you and sounds very self-absorbed. You state your age as 26, and I would encourage you to individuate and work on your independence. If your mother hasn’t been able to be there for you, stop expecting she can be. Accept her limitations, forgive her for them, and moving on with your life will help.

Alice Miller’s Drama of the Gifted Child, describes the necessary grieving process when breaking away from a narcissistic mother. I highly recommend this book to help you grieve what your mother isn’t able to give.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Mother Distances Herself When Children Are Sick or Injured

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Mother Distances Herself When Children Are Sick or Injured. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 5 Jul 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.