What Does It Mean If You Have Mommy Issues?

When it comes to issues that are, allegedly, caused by our parents, we hear a lot about daddy issues. Daddy issues has pretty much become the catchall phrase for any woman who dates older men, has problems with dating men their own age or — gasp! — acts in a way that society doesn't feel is appropriate for women. Although men can also have daddy issues, it's women who really get the brunt of it, and very negatively so.


"When we talk about 'daddy issues,' it's typically a way to dehumanize a woman's needs or desires. Some people even use the term to slut-shame," licensed psychotherapist Amy Rollo tells Healthline. "'Daddy issues' could also mean that a woman desires a strong attachment with a man... using the term is minimizing a woman's basic needs in a relationship."

But while the term daddy issues is mentioned quite a bit and, as Rollo points out, often liberally tossed around and misused, mommy issues is also something that can affect people. It's just that because it lacks the negative connotations that come with daddy issues, it doesn't get as much attention as it should.

What are mommy issues?

The bond between a mother and a child is one of the most important relationships two humans can have. Because of this, as research has found, behavior like abandonment, abuse, neglect, and atypical interactions can have a profound effect on a child that they can carry into adulthood, affecting every relationship they have in their life. While no parent is perfect, it's paramount that a child, as early as infancy, is given the love, support, and the necessary affection and security to help them be a mentally healthy adult who is aware of their self-worth.


"Really what we're talking about there is how people's issues from their childhood — in terms of their attachment with their parents, in this case particularly with their mother — has impacted their development as a whole," clinical psychologist Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., tells Mind Body Green.

The attachment style that we develop as children is one that we will not only bring into adulthood, but will bring into every future relationship we have — romantic, platonic, workplace-related, and beyond. An attachment style that is born from our relationship with our parents when we're growing up affects us in so many ways that sometimes what we assume is normal human interaction actually isn't. 


How to know if you have mommy issues

If you have mommy issues, they can show up in different ways. Although, for the most part, the major signs are clinginess, struggling to form deep connections with others, being overcritical of those in your life, lacking affection, and a dependency on your mom (or even your partner), these aspects differ depending on whether you're a woman or man.


In men, mommy issues can include needing their mother's input on everything or not having any relationship with their mother at all. It can also cause a deep disrespect for women, a lack of trust in women, and can lead to cheating on partners over and over again. In women, mommy issues look a bit different. For them, they can suffer from low self-esteem, have very few female friends, be a perfectionist because they're still trying to get their mother's approval, difficulty trusting people, and struggle to set boundaries even when they're clearly being disrespected. But just because you have mommy issues, it doesn't mean you're stuck with them. A therapist who specializes in these types of psychological problems can really help.


"No partner can emulate perfection or fulfill an emotional void, but respecting the core of our issues can help release any attached guilt or shame," therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW, tells Talkspace. "We are not doomed by what we learned from our parents, as it's wholly possible to grow within our relationships and as an individual. Connecting with the right therapist can be instrumental to learning and applying healthy relating and communication moving forward."

Mommy issues are not a reason to give up on yourself or your partner. You can work through these things, understand them, and come out the other side.