Everybody loves to blame unhealthy or toxic behaviours in relationships on “mummy” or “daddy” issues. It seems it’s always spoken as an insult — “Oh, she’s got major daddy issues” in a tone of voice that sounds like they might as well be accusing the person of having the plague. Sure, mummy or daddy issues can absolutely get in the way of having a healthy relationship, but nobody should be ridiculed for something that’s out of their control, since these issues are based off of things that happened during somebody’s childhood. But what are mummy issues or daddy issues really?
Mummy Issues & Daddy Issues Explained
As you may know, these issues are a result of the relationships you had with your mother or father when you were growing up, and maybe even how the relationship remains today. Daddy issues are about more than wanting to call someone “daddy” during sex and spoiler alert, it’s a misconception that the phenomenon is always related to daddy issues.
“Mummy issues’’ is a term originating from the psychoanalytic Oedipal complex, coined by Sigmund Freud. Carl Jung followed up with the Electra complex, modernly spoken of as ‘Daddy Issues. These terms were developed and understood through a psychoanalytic lens, where it was believed that young boys were thought to be in sexual competition with their fathers and young girls to be in competition with their mothers.
However, today, we know it’s about much more than this. Basically, mummy or daddy issues which, by the way, are terms that are thrown around way too loosely, are the psychological effects lasting into adulthood that are caused by childhood relationships with a mother or father.
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Some Possible Causes Of Mommy Or Daddy Issues In An Adult Could Be:
- A Mum or Dad who left the family or was mostly absent
- A care-giver who was emotionally or physically abusive
- A parent who wasn’t loving or nurturing
- A parental figure who was/is extremely overbearing
- A parent who treated the other parent badly
The Manifestation Of Mummy & Daddy Issues
When we think about mummy and daddy issues, it’s often the case that a man in a heterosexual relationship is experiencing the mummy issues and taking it out on the female partner, or that a woman in a heterosexual relationship is taking the daddy issues out on the male partner. However, this is not a concrete rule at all. Daddy Issues can be experienced by men and Mummy Issues can be experienced by women.
Mummy Issues In Men
When it comes to mummy issues, generally, this is a man who seems to be seeking a substitute mum as opposed to an equal partner, or behaving as if in reaction to unresolved issues with his mother, rather than the partner. This can lead to relationships having an unequal balance of power between a couple. Whether the man goes to the extreme of being very controlling or in the other direction and becomes very submissive.
Mummy issues can also cause a man to have different expectations of a partner. If a man’s mother did absolutely everything for him and babied him even into his adult years, it’s likely that he will expect a female partner to provide the same, waiting on him hand and foot like his mum has done.
Daddy Issues In Women
Daddy issues can manifest as trust issues or fear of abandonment for some women. Women who have an absent father, inconsistent presence, or malfunctioning relationship are at risk for seeking to resolve this through a partnership with a man. This can cause women to constantly seek validation or approval from men, or seek out people who are emotionally unavailable. They might also have a fear of abandonment if their father left their family when they were young, afraid that a partner will leave in the same way that their dad did.
Alternatively, a woman might have high expectations and needs. For women truly struggling with their partners because of their relationship with their fathers, they often struggle with a feeling of rejection. If one felt unloved and rejected by their father, they are at risk for having needs that are unrealistic or difficult for their partner to fulfil.
All of this being said, everybody’s different. Different childhoods and parent-child relationships can result in different outcomes in adulthood, and conversely, somebody who has a rough childhood won’t always have mummy or daddy issues. Plus, as previously mentioned, these terms are often used too loosely. They’re casually overused, often without a clear understanding of the root cause of what the problem is. It’s too often used to blame and label rather than describe or understand.
How Mummy Issues Show Up In Women
Look at a healthy mother and daughter relationship, there’s confidence, there’s acceptance of the personality, and there’s a harmonious bond between the two. However, oftentimes some mums are under-resourced, there are single mums, and many different reasons why your mom could not be available to you to the extent that you needed it. She could have been emotionally cold. She could have been emotionally needy, meaning she was empty and she needed you to give her all the love that she never received.
When you have a narcissistic mother and you are the golden child in which she projected her positive attributes upon, it can be extremely hard to set boundaries without guilt. If you had a narcissistic mother, guilt-tripping was the number one tool that she used to gain control over you. When we talk about having a narcissistic mother or an emotionally unavailable withdrawn mother, oftentimes your sense of self is completely distorted. One defines themselves more through other people’s reflections of you versus your own. So you don’t have this healthy connection to your core; you don’t really know what your truth is. You often go into a lot of questioning, second-guessing, and doubting yourself.
Another mummy issue symptom for women is lack of female friends. You may have learned that you can’t trust women, you can’t trust the feminine. Therefore, you don’t have many female friends. This often can come from a place of jealousy, if you received any jealousy from your mum, your mum was jealous of you, or she didn’t want you to have a good life.
Mummy Issues for women can show up as a difficulty creating a healthy bonds. Maybe you’re really good at sourcing yourself and connecting to yourself, but when it comes to allowing someone else to connect to you – you tend to be a little bit more on the avoidant side. Resentment of men is another symptom. Resisting and pushing away any masculine support. The idea that the masculine could come and be your hero and protect you makes you quiver.
How Daddy Issues Show Up In Men
A man is distant. They focus their mind on things other than what’s going on in the relationship. The man will miss the signals from those around that the relationships need their attention. He will be unconcerned and un-empathetic. It’s difficult for him to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes because he’s not comfortable in his own. A man will find it impossible to relate to others experiences emotionally. What concerns him most is how something impacts him.
He’s disrespectful. It’s not on purpose. He just doesn’t have a clue how to show respect. The man can be commitment-phobic. He learned early in life not to rely on people. Parents were unreliable. They always disappointed him, and that hurt. To avoid being hurt again, a man will avoid making commitments. He’s irresponsible. He was never able to figure out how to do things right. It seemed like the rules always changed. Rather than be blamed for things going wrong when he does everything to try to get them right, it’s easier to just say, “Hey, it wasn’t my fault!” A man can be unaffectionate and not playful. If he was touched at all as a child, it was to have the crap beat out of him. Showing affection by touching someone doesn’t come naturally for him and it feels awkward.
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How These Issues Effect Relationships
While mummy and daddy issues can possibly spill over into all aspects of life, it’s most common for them to affect your romantic relationships. Having unresolved issues from the relationship with our parents can manifest in a lack of self awareness. When we aren’t clear about why we feel a certain way, we react to our partner without clarity. This leads to misunderstanding, miscommunication, and hurt feelings.
Possible Negative Effects Of Mummy & Daddy Issues You Might Experience In A Relationship Are:
- Trust issues
- A need for constant reassurance and validation
- Fear of abandonment
- Unequal power balances
- Poor communication
- Negative self esteem getting in the way of the relationship
- Constantly dating someone much older than you
Couple Therapy Is An Option
Couples therapy helps a couple gain insight into a relationship, resolve conflict and improve relationship satisfaction utilising a variety of therapeutic interventions. Couples counseling is a safe place for you and your partner to work through your problems and share feelings that you might not have previously expressed. It is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist with clinical experience working with couples, most often a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Your therapist will support you and provide you with practical solutions to improve your communication and problem solving techniques for the future. Sometimes by assigning partners homework to apply the skills they have learned in therapy to their day-to-day interactions.
What You Should Do if You Suspect You Have Mummy or Daddy Issues?
Since the mummy issues and daddy issues are deeply rooted, meaning they originated because of ongoing behaviour that happened in your past. They can be really difficult to unpack. It’s possible that you’ve buried some of these memories, or tried to ignore past trauma. But ignoring the feelings you have surrounding your childhood and your parents is only going to make it harder to get beyond the struggles you’re facing.
Taking the time to understand, process, and work through the unresolved grievances and feelings we have about our parents is essential. Healing ourselves gives us the ability to have healthy partnerships that are equal and fulfilling.
CherryDTV recommends therapy for anyone who needs help discussing their past and childhood relationships. A mental health professional will be able to help you unpack your emotions and process them in a healthy way, as well as teach you to cope with the emotions, allowing you to work towards having better, healthier relationships.
There’s no need to be ashamed to be dealing with these challenges, or embarrassed about going to therapy for it. Remember, nobody chooses the family they’re born into. You can’t hand pick your birth mother or father, and when it comes down to it, your mummy or daddy issues aren’t your fault. But most importantly, remember that with hard work, you can move past the issues and have loving, fulfilling, romantic relationships.