16 Toxic Mothers Who Made Their Kids' Lives Absolutely Miserable

We recently shared a post where people got super candid about the unhealthy relationships they have with their moms.

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Unfortunately, people had a lot of disturbing stories to tell, but they inspired more of our readers to share some of their own experiences.

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So, here are some deeply gruesome things moms have done to their kids:

Warning: Some stories include topics of child abuse, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and verbal abuse. Please proceed with caution.

1."My mom knew how uncomfortable her sexual relationship with my dad made me. It all came to a head when she sent my older sister and me to our rooms at 8:30 p.m. to loudly have sex with my dad (I was around 16 years old). It didn't stop there. There were two occasions where I had friends visiting and they loudly pretended to have sex, one time kicking me out of my own room and pretending to do it in there. As you can imagine, I stopped inviting people over, mainly because I was turned off socially."

"Eventually I left the country in 2019 and asked my parents to come to the airport to say goodbye. 'No can do, kiddo.' My mom left 'on a retreat' a few days before I left and my dad said goodbye in the driveway. I haven't been back since."


2."I love my mom dearly and I know that she loves me. However, she never dealt with her trauma of growing up in a physically abusive home and chose to marry my father (who I don't believe truly loved her or us). Around the age of 10, she would use me as a therapist for her marital issues (including sexual-related issues between them). I became anorexic at a very young age to deal with the environment I was in, which was tumultuous, extremely patriarchal, and hyper-religious. I grew up believing that I must have hidden this disease so well because no one ever tried to help me (even though I told members of the community, teachers, and church members that I thought something was wrong and I was sick). But, because my parents are prominent community members, no one ever responded. A couple of years ago, my mom told me over the phone that she always knew I was anorexic but didn't know what to do about it, so she chose to do nothing."

"I now translate this as a sick or dead daughter is preferable to a healthy daughter. This was two days before I was going to have a major surgery that would make me a disabled person but would control significant chronic pain.

I've been in therapy for five years now — my therapist is a godsend of a woman. I am much healthier and have been working on intense boundaries, which has saved my life."


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3."I have many stories. One time in grade school, when I left my barrettes at school, she told me that if I didn't bring them home, I couldn't eat all weekend. I could only find one, so I didn't get to eat half the meals that weekend. Another time, I got out of the car to pump her gas and she locked me out until I told her that she was 'cute' and 'adorable.' I refused, so she left me there. My father came to pick me up and told me that I should have just told her. I reminded him that they didn't like it when I lied. Another time, she grounded me for three months because I was sick on the day of standardized testing, and I only took two of the optional tests instead of three."

"She always preferred my friend over me, who had better grades. She wished she was her kid instead of me (until our SAT scores came in). Brown-nosing doesn't help SAT scores; I scored significantly better than my friend. So, there weren't any more comparisons.

It was also my fault that she was 'fat.'"


4."Recently [the abuse] kind of came up again in my life. I've been looking at her cruelty to me about male attention and heartbreak. I was neglected and very sheltered, went to a girls' high school, and a few absurdly hot boys from our brother school started following me around. They went to the events I went to, I had dates to dances — it was just sweet puppy love. Nothing intense. I was shocked and flattered because I wasn't 'pretty' and had no idea why they liked me, but I rode the wave. I felt unworthy because my mom would say, 'Why are *they* with *you*?' — like I was very unattractive and unlikeable. I internalized that."

"When those boys found someone new, she never comforted me. It was always, 'Well, of course — what were they doing with you anyway? He was too good-looking for you.'

I believed her for a long time and thus shot low. I see now that it was all her unhealthy jealousy of me — so mean."


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5."My mother was abusive both physically and mentally. I broke off contact with her when I was kicked out at 14 years old, and had to fend for myself on the streets. But, the worst thing she's ever done was when she threatened to burn my house down with me and my children inside. I didn't know how she found us at the time. She poured gas on our wooden deck and was holding matches. I called the cops terrified she was going to kill my children and me. While the neighbors stared and one filmed it all, I was inside my home hoping we didn't die. My children didn't know who the crazed lady that kind of looked like me was — thankfully the cops arrested her in time. I came to find out that a private investigator had tracked me down for her. The shit stain wasn't even sorry when he found out what she'd done."


6."My mom is really temperamental. As the oldest kid, most of you know what that means. I'm the guinea pig and the punching bag. I look exactly like her, so I guess I have to act just like her (but I have my dad's temperament and personality). He ruined our family when I was really little, but having an abusive father is better than having 'no father.' She hates him which means she hates me because I'm exactly like him. I've been trying to leave for two years now, as she has threatened to kick me out multiple times for the most trivial things. She's the most evil and nasty person I've ever met (she's also religious, so she's even more abusive to me)."


A mother speaking to her son who is holding a skateboard in a park
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7."My mother had children too young and never holds accountability for the fact that she took it out on us as kids. She was verbally abusive, emotionally unavailable, and contradictory to the point where I did everything I could to stay out of the house from junior high to when I moved out. One moment, she would berate me for not standing up to bullies at school, and then she would tell me I looked like 'trailer trash' because I didn't make an effort with my looks. I was a 'tomboy,' too broke to buy makeup, and didn't know how to wear it properly."

"She's since gotten her life together, gave me wonderful siblings, and is significantly calmer — but she still refuses to be held accountable for how she contributed to my mental health issues and my poor self-esteem. I'm proud of her for getting her life together against the odds, but I feel like this refusal of accountability keeps us from having a relationship. We get along, but I've since given up on the idea of us being close."


8."My mother beat me with a belt one morning before school because I mixed plaids and stripes. My parents divorced when I was eight years old. My dad took my brother and me out and told us that they were getting a divorce and that it wasn't our fault — sometimes people just couldn't live together. But when my mother took us out and told us they were divorcing, she said it was because our dad didn't love us anymore. She thought I was asleep when I overheard her tell my grandmother that she had taken our father's Camaro to meet her lover at some motel after my father had his wisdom teeth extracted and he'd been given pain medication."

"The Camaro was gone, and our old station wagon was parked there. The lover became our first stepfather. After they divorced she would blame us for it. One of the worst beatings I ever received was when she blamed us for our stepfather leaving. I said, 'If that's true, you should kneel down and kiss our feet.'"


9."My mother told me I was supposed to be aborted and was the reason for my parents' divorce in 1990. She said I owe her for not doing it and the resulting loss of her marriage."


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10."My mother was a nightmare. She had six children (four girls and two boys). The boys were treated like kings and the girls like absolute garbage. She was insanely jealous of the girls, which is sickening. I was sexually abused when I was 11 and she told me that if that was the worst thing that ever happened to me I was lucky. She then forbade me ever to mention it again. She died about six years ago, and none of us girls miss her. She was a drunk and a liar, and on top of everything else, she treated our dad terribly. He was scared to death of her and never stood up for us. It was a horrible childhood — I decided to treat my children the exact opposite of her and I have a great relationship with them. Good riddance, mom."


11."A memory I buried deep came to the surface in therapy. I was informed that I was going to have a miscarriage the day after my husband and I went to my parents' cabin. My mom said they were thinking about moving to the state my brother lived in because she wanted to be close to her grandkids. I said, 'So, because I'm no longer having a baby, you're going to move?' Her response was, 'Yes.' They didn't end up moving and I later had my daughter. My mom has been pretty helpful, so it's a complicated relationship. Growing up, it was comments about my weight. She would tell me to stop eating in front of other people. My friends were 'skinny' so the boys would pick them. I'm trying so hard to break the cycle with my daughter."


12."My mother is very manipulative. She yells at me, then gets angry when I yell back, saying that she is not yelling and it is unjustifiable for me to yell back at her. Then, when I lower my volume, she says my tone is wrong. Whenever I start saying something (like when she is doing something mean or favoring my brother more), she will change the subject and point out something I am doing wrong. Not once, in all the years I have been alive has she said that she is sorry for something she has done. I am always 'in the wrong,' and I am 'what is destroying our family.' She threatens to tell everyone when I do misbehave, like sending out a group text to the whole neighborhood...WTF."


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13."I love my mom because she's my mom, but I definitely don't like her. Last month I was having chest pains and I was scared. I called my dad but he wasn't answering. I called my mom at work (she was less than a five-minute drive to my house) and said, 'Please don't get nervous, but can you take me to the ER? I can't get a hold of dad.' Her response? 'I have to get my taxes done today.' So I drove myself because, unknown to me, my dad was at a doctor's appointment (maybe mom should have mentioned that.) She never asked me what was so wrong that I needed to go (it's the most recent CVS receipt of things)."


14."I'm an only child, and my mom and dad split when I was four years old. My mom essentially raised me as her surrogate spouse and has always treated me like her own personal therapist. At 31, I've worked hard on myself in therapy to decouple that from my own identity, but I have to reset boundaries almost every time we interact. Not to mention the guilt trips when I don't respond or interact how she wants me to. The times she's told me she believes I don't love her when really she wants validation that she’s been a great mom…it's a lot. I don't like her — I do have a lot of love and empathy for her, but I also don't think she'll ever change because change terrifies her. It's a toxic, toxic loop."


A person sits across from another, hands clasped, in a therapist's office during a counseling session
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15."I was 18, and my folks announced that we were moving hours away at the end of the summer. We had a lot of work to do on the house before we sold it, and I was helping my ma with scraping and sanding the front porch. We agreed that I would work through the morning and afternoon, and then my boyfriend would visit for an hour or two before dinner. I don't know what tipped her mood in the other direction, but I reminded her that my boyfriend would get there in a half hour. So, I would finish the section I was working on and then shower quickly. She said I couldn't, and I reminded her of our agreement. So she threw her scraper down and screamed, 'Fine! Go hang out with your boyfriend! I hope you wind up worthless and alone like you deserve!' and stormed off. I cried in the shower, and started planning to move out."


16.And finally, "My mom is one of those people who can never see past their own pain and think it gives her the right to abuse, use, and lie to anyone and everyone. She has made false police reports, spread rumors and lies, stolen from family members, and just acted selfishly and cruelly with zero remorse. For many years, I was sad and angry that I didn't have a nurturing and caring mom, but then I realized that was never going to change and that I would be happier just cutting her out of my life. That turned out to be true, and my mental health has improved so much since."


An adult daughter looking annoyed as her older mother gestures in a discussion at a kitchen table
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Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages.