“Daughter Detox”: Dealing with “Unloving Mothers”

One of the conundrums for the daughter of the emotionally unavailable mother is puzzling through how her mother can be physically present and emotionally absent at once. For the young child, this is emotionally confusing and, as the child matures, it may stay that way and create a well of deep self-doubt. Peg Streep, author of Daughter Detox (Psychology Today)

Peg Streep knows all about “mean mothers” and the need for “daughter detox.” Her book Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt was previously featured on this blog, so today’s post is about her more recent Daughter Detox and its companion workbook in which “unloving mothers” and their effects are explained.

In the 2017 Daughter Detox: Recovering from An Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life Streep outlines seven stages toward healing:

  1. Discovery: recognizing the eight different types of toxic maternal behaviors (see Mean Mothers post) and realizing any of these may have affected you
  2. Discernment: assessing the damage more closely
  3. Distinguish: “allows us to see why so many of us end up in unsatisfying relationships, chose the wrong partners, or are unable to develop close friendships”
  4. Disarm: unhealthy patterns and trigger responses are among the behaviors examined
  5. Reclaim: learning empowerment and starting to make healthier choices
  6. Redirect: changing how to relate to your mother
  7. Recover: developing a plan for moving on with healing

For further assistance, Streep’s The Daughter Detox Guided Journal and Workbook: A 7-Stage Process To Help Recover from an Unloving Mother and Reclaim Your Self-Esteem may prove even more effective as a self-help guide.

Also available are many blog posts by Streep. Check out the following links at her website and at Psychology Today.

In one post from last year (Psychology Today) Streep lists and explains 12 things daughters of toxic moms wrongly learn. Click on the link for details.

1. That she’s to blame for her mother’s treatment of her

2. That she can fix the relationship — with her mother or anyone else

3. That her essential character is set in stone

4. That her feelings are illegitimate (and not to be trusted)

5. That the peace is always worth keeping

6. That it’s normal for people to act hurtfully or use hurtful words

7. That independence and interdependence are mutually exclusive

8. That boundaries are like walls

9. That someone always has to be in control

10. That people aren’t to be trusted (especially women)

11. That love is a transaction

12. That she can’t be healed

Another interesting Psychology Today post by Streep lists five wishes, along with suggested strategies, that unloved daughters often have. It’s emphasized that these are beyond the basic wish to be loved by one’s mother and/or to understand why one isn’t loved by Mom.

There isn’t an answer, of course, to the question, ‘Why doesn’t my mother love me?’ The chances are good that even if she were able to admit to herself—which is unlikely—she wouldn’t be able to answer it. More importantly, as long as you keep asking the question, you remain focused on your mother and remain in her orbit. The only person you can change is you.

You can go to the link above in order to read fuller descriptions of these five wishes:

1. Feeling secure about decisions

2. Being able to act rather than react

3. Being able to accept herself, perfectly imperfect

4. Being able to manage her emotions

5. Feeling free of the past

Material from blog posts such as those mentioned above can of course also be found in Streep’s Daughter Detox book and workbook.

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