If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother

In Dr. Nina Show by Dr. NinaLeave a Comment

Happy Mother's Day from me and my girls!!

photo Nina Ariel Kavanna

For many of us, being a mother is one of the most amazing experiences in life.

Having a mother is not always so amazing.

Here's the thing about mothers:

Parents do the best they can given their own unique history and experiences. But, despite their best intentions, things don't always go well.Food is a substitute for love and for mothering.

When we can't “mother” ourselves by being nurturing and supportive, we turn to food to cope.

Here are some common types of mothers:


Indifference comes from many places.  Depressed mothers are incapable of summoning the kind of energy necessary to be interested and invested in their children.  

Mothers who were themselves raised by indifferent parents may also be indifferent.  

Mothers who had intrusive parents might swing the pendulum too far the other way, giving their kids too much space and seeming indifferent.

If your mother did not show enough interest or curiosity, you may yearn for a level of connection and mothering that is unavailable.  That emptiness may be filled with food, to provide a temporary fulfillment.


There's a reason the word “mother” is part of the word “smother”

Mothers who read diaries, who demand to know what their kids are doing or thinking.  This kind of mothering is often identified with restricting, which can be seen as a way of symbolically keeping OUT intrusive questions, or dealing with boundary violations.  

Intrusive AND indifferent

These mothers are overly invested in certain aspects of your life, and then neglect other areas of your life, often those that need the most attention.  

This inconsistency can be very confusing and may lead someone to turn away from relationships and to food instead.

Little Girl Mothers

These mothers pull for you to take care of them.  They often share their problems, ask for your opinions, and elicit your concern and care about their well-being.  

When you are always taking care of your mother, nobody is mothering you.  That leads to a deprivation that can be resolved by eating to symbolically fill an internal emptiness.

Mini-Me Syndrome

Moms who want their children to reflect them, to live up to their own expectations of who their kids should be, instead of being interested in their individuality.  This type of mother conveys the idea that something wrong if their daughters or sons don't share their mother's mind.

A woman who wanted to learn how to play the drums was told by her mother, “Don't be ridiculous.  I like the piano, not drums.”

Another mother told her daughter, “You can't vote Democrat.  We're Republicans.”

These mothers couldn't tolerate the idea that their daughters had separate wishes, ideas, and beliefs.
Often the only way to assert yourself is by controlling the one area that your mother cannot directly influence:  your weight.   This can be a way of saying, “This is my life and my body.  You can't control MY body.”


Mothers who consistently show an appropriate amount of curiosity and care about their child's emotional and physical well-being, who allow their kids to have their own identities.  Whatever kind of actual mother you had, the goal is to cultivate a nurturing response to yourself.

What kind of mothering did you experience?

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