Mommy issues are wounds that have occurred within the relationship with your mother. These often lead to insecure attachment styles that influence your adult relationships.

If you’ve experienced trouble forming healthy attachments with other adults and have difficulty trusting people, you may have what many refer to as “mommy issues.” The terms mommy and daddy issues are prevalent in today’s culture; but it’s hard to pinpoint precisely what having “mommy issues” means.

Mommy issues is a term commonly used to describe attachment problems as a result of the actions of your maternal caregivers in childhood.

When a parent is inconsistent, absent, or overbearing, this influences your ability to form secure relationships later in life. Attachments aren’t set for life; you can move from an insecure attachment to a more secure attachment with some work.

Mommy issues refer to issues you’ve had with your mother in childhood that cause psychological problems or difficulty in relationships. The psychological impact of mommy issues can last into adulthood and often concerns how your mom parented you.

For some people, this may look like neglect, emotional abuse, or lack of parenting from your mother. For others, this can stem from strict and overbearing mothers.

Mommy issues vs. Daddy issues

Mommy and daddy issues both come from attachment issues with your caregivers. If you have mommy issues, these are psychological problems that you may experience due to insecure attachment with your mother that forms in childhood.

Daddy issues come from insecure attachment with your father that starts in childhood. Both mommy and daddy issues can cause problems in adulthood with trust, insecurity, and self-esteem.

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Mommy issues are attachment issues. Depending on your attachment style, these signs, and symptoms of potential mommy issues may appear differently.

For example, research indicates masculinity is more associated with dismissive or avoidant attachment styles, and anxious attachment is often more highly correlated with femininity.

Despite these differences, anyone can experience trauma, neglect, or poor and unstable relationships with their mother. These unstable relationships can be problematic and lead to difficulties in adult social or romantic relationships.

Anxious attachment

According to 2017 research, individuals with an anxious attachment style have a variety of traits that could signal problems, such as:

  • low self-esteem
  • feelings that their romantic partners don’t appreciate them
  • feels that their romantic partners will abandon them
  • highly invested in their relationships with others
  • smothering others in relationships
  • low sense of self-worth
  • hyper-awareness of others pulling away from them
  • lack of trust in others

If you have an anxious attachment style, you likely experience high levels of insecurity, which can cause you to act in ways that drive your partner or other significant people away. The likely cause of anxious attachment is experiencing inconsistent parenting from your maternal caregivers in childhood.

Avoidant attachment

There are some common patterns and signs you could have an avoidant attachment, according to 2021 research, such as:

  • discomfort with intimacy
  • high levels of independence
  • emotionally distant from partner
  • perceive conflict as a threat
  • inadequate skills in conflict resolution
  • perceive that people can’t meet their needs
  • become easily overwhelmed when they feel pressured to engage in social relationships

If you have an avoidant attachment, this could stem from parents in high conflict, neglectful parents, or parents who did not meet your needs in childhood.

Disorganized attachment

If you have a disorganized attachment style, you may exhibit a combination of the signs and symptoms of both anxious and avoidant insecure attachment styles.

Research indicates the root of disorganized attachment stems from inconsistent parenting. Therefore in childhood, you might lack consistently engaging with your caregiver, including your mother, in times of stress.

The researchers also noted some common signs of disorganized attachment, which include:

  • withdrawal
  • anger that appears out of nowhere
  • aggression
  • confusion
  • exhibiting a “freeze response”

If you have a disorganized attachment style in adulthood and have experienced trauma, you may become extremely tense or avoidant when dealing with a traumatic event.

Mommy issues are often caused by attachment styles in early childhood. Insecure attachment styles can develop as a result of poor parenting. Research indicates that attachment in childhood affects the development of familial, social, and romantic relationships later in life.

Insecure attachment refers to feelings of insecurity about your relationships with others. Insecure attachment develops from the primary attachments you develop with your caregivers in childhood.

Because of societal gender roles, your mother is often seen as your primary caregiver. If she wasn’t reliable, you might be more susceptible to having an insecure attachment style.

If you want to work on forming more secure relationships and overcoming “mommy issues,” there are some steps you can take.

1. Seek therapy

If you have mommy issues, therapy can be a way to cope and heal from a painful relationship with your mother.

You might consider seeking a therapist trained in trauma modalities, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) or accelerated resolution therapy (ART). Trauma-informed therapists can help you reprocess and cope with past trauma in a healthy way.

2. Find a support system

If your mother has been unreliable, then you may need to lean on other people who are reliable for support.

Socializing with friends and learning to be vulnerable with others can help increase emotional connection. Support can take some time to develop, but having stable relationships with others can be part of healing.

3. Practice self-care

If your mother could not meet your needs growing up, it’s hard to rely on others to meet them.

Practicing self-care by ensuring your eating, drinking water, getting adequate sleep, and moving your body are all ways you can help yourself meet your needs.

You can also practice self-care by engaging in activities and hobbies that bring you joy.

If you have an insecure attachment style, this can result from poor parenting from your mother. Signs of mommy issues can vary greatly, ranging from withdrawal and isolation from others to extreme clinginess and smothering of others.

If you have mommy issues, you can work on repairing those wounds through therapy, practicing self-care, and forming healthy relationships with others.