Do you ever feel like your mother is always trying to control you? Do her words make you feel small and powerless? It may be that your mother is struggling with a lack of self-confidence, leading her to resort to threatening behavior as a way to keep tabs on you. Yes, even now that you are an adult… these feelings may still be there as if you are still that 11-year-old little girl or boy.
Truth is…There are times when mothers are struggling with low self-esteem, they often attempt to gain power over their children (or spouse) by using threats or intimidation. This can create feelings of insecurity in the child and lead to a range of emotional abuse, self-confidence, and lack of vulnerability down the line, including difficulty trusting others and forming healthy relationships.
It’s important for parents who are dealing with these issues to understand how it affects their kids—and what they can do about it.
So, how can you tell if you are passing along this subconscious habit? Are you a mother struggling to instill discipline in your children without resorting to threats or punishments? If so, you are not alone. Many mothers lack the self-confidence needed to effectively teach their children how to behave and can instead rely on coercive tactics such as threats or punishment.
Unfortunately, these strategies often backfire (I should know), leading to more misbehavior in the long run. In this article, I’ll tell you why many mothers, like I used to be, struggle with low self-confidence and provide tips for building positive relationships with their children while maintaining healthy boundaries.
Low Self-Confidence in Mothers
When it comes to parenting, mothers are often expected to be “perfect”. In reality, however, many moms struggle with low self-confidence, meaning they lack certain beliefs in their own abilities and worth. This can lead them to turn to control behavior such as threats or punishment when trying to discipline their children. Ie. When we get home, you’re not playing video games; getting dessert; I’m taking your phone away; etc.
As a result, children who experience this type of parenting may grow up feeling scared and unworthy, leading to difficulty trusting others and forming healthy relationships. Having personally struggled with anger issues and lots of threats during my early mothering years, I can look back in hindsight and see why my oldest son has a lot of difficulty with trust, healthy relationships, and overall self-love.
The last thing you want is a child who cannot seem to function on a healthy level with others and especially with themselves. However, your child “turns” out, falling onto the mom-guilt sword for their choices in life is not the way to go. Forgive yourself and continue to love on your kids. But if you don’t have adult children yet, or you do and you want to stop the cycle of threatening a child, which I’ll clarify in a moment what that is exactly, then keep reading.
Definition of Low Self-Confidence & How It Manifests
Low self-confidence is a common issue for many mothers. It can manifest in various ways, including fear of failure and an inability to trust in one’s own abilities. These feelings of low self-worth in moms can lead to a cycle of negative thinking and behaviors, such as using threats or punishment to control their children. As a result, the child may feel scared and powerless, leading to difficulty forming authentic relationships or trusting others enough to be emotionally vulnerable.
Other areas of a mom’s life where she may experience low self-confidence include work, relationships, and finances. Some examples are feeling like you can’t do a good job at work, not believing that your opinions matter in relationships, or worrying about not having enough money to do the things you need to in order to practice self-care.
The Effects of Low Self-Confidence in Mothers
When mothers suffer from low self-confidence, it can affect their parenting abilities in many ways. Because these moms may be unable to trust in their own judgment, they often attempt to control their children through threats or punishments.
This type of behavior can lead to resentment and a lack of trust between the mother and child, as well as feelings of insecurity or worthlessness in the child. As the child grows older, this distrust can manifest itself as difficulty in forming healthy relationships with peers or authority figures.
Low self-confidence can also cause mothers to be overly involved in their children’s lives, micromanaging them and taking away their autonomy. You may have heard the term, Helicopter Mom/Parent? This is a term used to describe when a parent hovers over their children, often handling tasks that the children should be doing on their own. It can suffocate children’s independence and self-esteem due to the lack of freedom and responsibility they are given.
Parents with low self-confidence may also project their insecurities onto their children. This can lead to the child feeling like they are constantly under scrutiny and never good enough. Low self-confidence in parents can also make them overprotective of their children, not wanting them to take risks or experience failure – things that are essential for learning and developing independence.
This can leave children feeling incapable of decision-making, resulting in a lack of self-confidence in adulthood.
Threatening Behaviors & the Effects of Threatening a Child: What it Looks Like
When it comes to parenting, threatening behavior often takes the form of punishments or other coercive tactics that are used as a way to gain power over the child. This type of behavior may include physical punishment (e.g., spanking), verbal threats (e.g., yelling or belittling), or the withholding of love or approval (e.g., “If you don’t do what I say, I’ll never love you again!”).
These tactics can be damaging to the parent-child relationship and may lead to a lack of trust or self-confidence in the child. This is especially damaging when it’s done out of sheer exhaustion, anger, and bitterness. Which, as a mom, there’s no lack of those circumstances we find ourselves in.
One threat I often hear is something to the lying tune of If you don’t stop XYZ behavior, I’m leaving you in the store. You see… I’ll hear all sorts of phrases and threats like this in the stores, at the park, etc. But the parent is blatantly lying to their kid. What’s worse…the kid KNOWS it!
This is threatening and it’s another form of lying with the intent of negative reinforcement that never actually happens; but negativity is the ultimate result, whether the parent follows through or not.
How This Affects Mothers and Their Children
When mothers are using threatening behaviors to try and gain control over their children, it can severely damage the parent-child relationship. The child may develop a deep distrust of their mother and may even start to doubt their own abilities. Additionally, this type of behavior can lead to feelings of worthlessness or insecurity in the child, which can have long-lasting, negative effects on their adult life.
It’s the distrust the kids have of their parents that may become extremely dangerous. There are child predators out there and if your child grew up (say from the age of 2 hearing and experiencing these ‘threats’ on the regular) and now has access to ‘the world through their phone’ – those sick bastards out there will USE their insecurities and the underlying distrust they already have and developed to drive them further away from their family; mentally & psychologically.
These child predators then lay claim that they accept and understand them more than their parents/family ever could. Don’t think for a moment that your, very impressionable, child wouldn’t trust and be lured in by a complete stranger. It’s horrible but realistic.
When mothers are able to recognize and address the issues of low self-confidence, they can create healthier relationships with their children by fostering feelings of trust and respect. This is done by setting boundaries that are appropriate for a child’s age and stage of development, offering unconditional love, providing a safe space for open communication, and encouraging their children to make decisions on their own, when appropriate (we’re talking 18+ years old).
By doing this, mothers can help boost their children’s self-confidence and set them up for success in adulthood – emotionally and mentally. By modeling healthy behaviors, mothers can create a secure environment that allows their children to feel supported, heard and respected. Through setting appropriate boundaries and having meaningful conversations with their children, mothers can demonstrate respect for their autonomy, helping to build their self-confidence and resilience for the future.
Additionally, mothers can provide a safe space for communication by frequently checking in with their children and listening to their concerns without judgment, and in turn, share their own struggles (teach and show them how to be vulnerable). This kind of communication will create an environment where children feel safe expressing themselves, which can help build trust and understanding between the mother and child.
3 Main Reasons Why Many Mothers Struggle With Low Self-Confidence and Turn to Threatening A Child
1. Unhealthy Beliefs:
Many mothers have internalized unhealthy beliefs about themselves, believing that they are not good enough or that they do not deserve to be loved or respected. These beliefs can lead to feelings of low self-worth and insecurity which can make it difficult for them to foster healthy relationships with their children. This almost always is a subconscious behavior instilled during their own childhood.
2. Lack of Support:
Mothers often lack the resources and support networks needed to stay confident in their parenting abilities and decisions. Without support, it can be hard for a mother to trust in her own instincts and find the courage to take risks necessary for her own growth and development. So, who is your support? Is it journaling? A close friend you can be authentic and vulnerable with? Your spouse? Whoever it is… make sure they are just a tap away from a phone call.
3. Fear of Failure:
Many mothers struggle with fear of failure, which can cause them to second guess their decisions, or to become overly controlling and authoritative. This fear can lead to an inability to accept mistakes, which can further damage their self-confidence and relationships with their children. If one cannot tolerate mistakes within themselves – constantly judging, doubting, and blaming their own actions on themselves and others, how much less will a mom tolerate that on her kid(s)?
This takes a lot of introspection work, so be sure to take some time to reflect on what you, as the mom, need to heal that inner conflict and its source (more than likely, from your parents).
So What, Now?
Many mothers face these battles with low self-confidence, which can make it difficult to create healthy relationships with their children. Trust me… I know. I know that mothers may struggle with feelings of guilt and shame, particularly if they had an absent, emotionally distant, or abusive parent growing up. They may also be dealing with the pressures of motherhood while trying to balance work and home life, both of which can lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression. I get it… so now what?
By recognizing the root causes of low self-confidence in mothers, it is possible to create a healthier environment for families. Through open communication, setting boundaries, and offering unconditional love (for themselves), mothers can foster trust and understanding between themselves and their children. This will help build up your confidence, mama, as well as your child’s resilience for the future. With support systems in place, it’s moms like us that can learn how to overcome any feelings of insecurity we may have while providing a safe environment for our children that allows them to grow into confident adults.
5 Tips For Building Positive Relationships Between Mothers and Children Without Relying on Threats or Punishments
1. Practice Open Communication:
Open communication is essential for fostering trust and understanding between mothers and children, as it encourages them to express their feelings without fear of judgment or punishment. Mothers can set aside time each day to check in with their children and listen to their concerns. Make sure it’s reciprocal. A child won’t know how to open up and share vulnerable feelings if a parent never shares vulnerable feelings. If you aren’t willing to share, then ask yourself if that behavior is what you want your child to model – you.
2. Respect Autonomy:
Allowing your child the opportunity to make decisions on their own, when they have reached a maturity and age level that is appropriate (aka – 8-year olds…no, just no) will help build their self-confidence and resilience for the future. Mothers should be mindful of not overstepping boundaries when providing guidance, allowing room for autonomy when appropriate with adult children. Age does matter here. You are still the parent, so allow autonomy for age-appropriate decisions.
Just because they turn 18 doesn’t mean they have the experiential discernment to make sound decisions in all aspects of their life…Just consider some of your decisions this week!
3. Set Appropriate Boundaries:
Setting boundaries helps create secure environments that allow children to feel respected and supported by their parents, while also helping them learn responsibility and accountability. Some examples are, No TV or device usage after 8 pm; No guests in the house without parents present; Be home before 10 pm on weeknights. You also need to set privacy boundaries – but NEVER at the expense of possibly allowing internt predators. Meaning… their phone privileges are YOUR property – not their “privacy” rights.
Tweens and teens should never have complete privacy with their phones. If you believe they should… this is not the blog for you! Here, we are involved WITH our kids… not if they decide to let us in. So, set ground rules – inspect their phone and history every 4-6 months. PROTECT your child, don’t propagate potential emotional and psychological harm because you want to give your impressionable 14-year old “space”.
4. Offer Unconditional Love:
Children need to feel loved and accepted without the expectation of perfection. Mothers should strive to show their children that they are worthy of affection no matter what, and provide them with a safe space to be open and honest about their feelings. You do this by first modeling for them what perfection isn’t and what sharing looks and feels like in a safe place. So share something vulnerable with your child that is age-appropriate.
5. Provide Opportunities for Growth:
Giving your child the opportunity to explore new interests or activities can help build confidence, promote creativity, and expand their skill set. Encouraging children to follow their passions can help foster strong relationships between mothers and children while also providing meaningful experiences for both parties. Scrolling TikTok doesn’t count.
Have conversations and let them talk…without you solving their problems for their dreams. Just. Listen. and overly encourage them to take the next step. Try to leave out how YOU would do something…unless you offer or they ask you.
By utilizing these tips, mothers can begin building positive relationships with their children that are based on trust, respect, and understanding rather than threatening a child or punishments that never come to fruition. Additionally, it is important to remember that children are still learning and growing, and they may not understand the consequences of their actions or the feelings of those around them.
Moms, we ought to strive to be patient with our children while also providing guidance when necessary and stepping in even when our kids who don’t want us to. With patience, understanding, and open communication, us mothers can create a safe space for both themselves and their children to grow together – no threats necessary.
Promise, don’t threaten. Mean what you say, say what you mean.Coach Andi, Mom of 11
Is it normal for a parent to threaten their child?
Yes – parents get frustrated or exaserpated at times, threatening a chlid is (subconsciously) second nature.
What to do if someone threatens your child?
Step in. Set boundaries and take necessary (non-violent) action.
Do threats work with kids?
In the long term, no. Sure, you may get some “obedience” when you do it the frist couple of times, but your child isn’t dumb. They’ll catch on quick and realize you’re all talk with no bite. AKA – lack of parental respect is waiting for you. 🙁
As a mom who did some inner work and was VERY self-critical and feeling like a failure as a mom, this post is a reflection of that time in my life and where I’m at now – as a confident mom of 11 souls. So, this may not resonate with you and you may feel defensive… if you do – then you’re not the only one.