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Here's How To Know If You've Got "Mama Issues"

Sometimes, our issues can be directly linked back to our mom.

Love & Relationships

Sooooo, I'm just gonna put it right on out there from front street. This is not the kind of article that you skim real quick while you're supposed to be working or you take in during your lunch break if you're already not in the best of moods. The reason why I say that is because it's been both my personal experience and observation that whenever we, as adults, dig into our childhoods, it can touch on some spots that may still be wounded or cause us to respond or react in ways that we didn't expect. So, if just hearing that has already resonated with you, please wait until you're in a place and mental space where you can freely and safely take all of this in.

That said—whew—I think it's time that some of us dive into what it means to have real and significant mama issues. Because I'm pretty sure that it's not just me who can relate to the fact that oftentimes, when we're trying to heal from our past, it's the daddy issues that tends to come up a lot, both in the media and in conversation. Oh, but sis, if you had a broken, abusive or dysfunctional-on-some-level kind of mother, you might be surprised by how much that affected and infected you to some degree.

For instance, far too often, when I'm in a session with a couple, I realize that a lot of the drama and trauma is directly the result of a woman (and yes, sometimes a man but we're gonna deal with us today) who didn't have the best kind of mother when she needed one the most. That's the sad part. The silver lining is, once you recognize that as being a core issue, you can seek the help and healing that you need.

So, are you ready to (possibly) take some Band-Aids off today? Here are seven signs that you may have some mommy issues that are still haunting your world right at this very moment—and maybe didn't even realize it. Until now.

1.You Hate Men (Because Your Mama Did/Does)

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I'm over it. I really am. It's like, whenever I do tiptoe out into social media, it seems like a good 40 percent of posts from Black women that I see are how "trash" men are. After a while, I start to wonder if that's all some women think about. And while, the first thing that comes to mind is, "What is your relationship with your dad like?", I've gotta say that the follow-up is usually, "How did your mom talk about men while you were growing up?" because just like a child isn't born, say, a racist, children also don't come out of the womb hating a gender either.

The reality is that none of us exist without an egg (woman) and sperm (man). Both make up who we are and both hold much validity. If even just hearing that makes your skin crawl, spend some time thinking about what your mother told/taught you about men because, while it happens sometimes, it's rare that I know an instance where a woman hates men and her parents don't have something directly to do with it.

Trust me, there is nothing beneficial or even attractive about making it your personal mission to tear men—especially Black men—down. If you've been hurt by one, therapy can help with that. But joining in the blood sport of publicly denouncing and belittling men—again, especially Black men—may be popular but it's still not a good look and it certainly does nothing for your romantic relationship or you as a parent if you happen to be raising a son. Or even a daughter, when you really stop to think about it.

2.You Control Others (Because Your Mama Controlled You)

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I can raise my hand in this class right here because I grew up with a controlling mother. I think a big part of the reason it played out that way is because she was raised in an out-of-control household. When that happens, oftentimes it causes us to become so scared of losing control as adults that we basically try and rule over everything around us.

It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized that as much as I loathed her controlling ways, that some of that indeed had rubbed off on me. Because I am a very direct and pretty black-and-white kind of person when it comes to how I approach life, that already is…a lot. Add control to that dynamic and it can make you a pretty challenging person to deal with.

Remember Angela from the Tyler Perry Why Did I Get Married? movies? I believe it was the sequel when she said something about her husband along the lines of, "I don't want to control him; I just want him to do what I say." That's my mother in a nutshell. In some ways, she still has controlling tendencies and I'm in my 40s. It has taken many years for me to break that cycle within myself and learn that folks can make their own choices, have the right to their own boundaries and don't always need my input about either point.

If you're not sure if you're a controlling person or not, ask some of the people closest to you. If they exhale and then nod their head up and down, try and avoid getting defensive. Instead, hear them out. If you hated being controlled as a child, imagine how the people around you feel about you trying to run them on some level when they are adults. Controlling is a form of abuse. Break free from it.

3.Your Mouth Is Super Slick (Because Your Mama Talked Crazy)

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This one right here, boy. I'm a woman and even I must say that something that drives me totally up the wall is a woman who feels like she can say whatever to whomever and then, when she gets some of what she dished served back, here comes all of the tears and self-victimization; in a nutshell, manipulation. If you've got a slick mouth, you should be able to handle it when it's served back at you. And yet, what's the need for being like that in the first place? Real talk.

I think it's insane that this crazy world we live in has so many of us out here acting like femininity (cue Eric Benet's song "Femininity") is some sort of degrading word. Hmph. One day we'll talk about how white feminism plays a huge role in the breakdown of the Black community. For now, I'll just say that if you know you can be harsh, even when it isn't really warranted and your attitude about it has always been "That's just the way that I am", do some reflecting on that point. Are you sure?

Oftentimes, the energy that we give others is based on the energy that was displayed to us when we were young. If your mom was always loud and abrasive, borderline insulting or always had something slick and somewhat disrespectful to say (because children can be disrespected by adults too), even if you didn't like it, it's still all that you knew. And we often do what we see.

I always liked that the Bible said that women are supposed to have a "quiet and gentle spirit" (I Peter 3:4). Uh-huh. The fact that some of y'all don't even like that is weird because what's wrong with being peaceful and non-abrasive? Goodness. Me? I have a naturally loud tone to my voice. Yet once my spirit settled, my delivery became very different than it once was. It's one thing to be witty or quick with comebacks. It's another thing for folks to feel exhausted in your presence. If it's the latter, what was your mom's mouth like back in the day? You might be surprised by how much you picked up, without even really realizing it.

4.You’re Hard on Others (Because Your Mama Was Hard on You)

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No patience? No grace? No understanding? Always having to talk over others? Constantly thinking that you are right? A gaslighter? A spiritual manipulator? Taking on a one-and-done mentality? If this is you, you're pretty hard on people. And if that is the case, where exactly did that come from? If some of us are real with ourselves, this was exactly how our mother was and so, since she is our first introduction to how a woman is supposed to be, a lot of us grew up thinking that her toxic actions defined womanhood. It takes quite a bit of looking-outside-of-yourself research to understand what is healthy and what is counterproductive when it comes to being a mature, thriving and balanced woman.

We live in a world where mercy and grace are almost on the endangered species list. If you don't seem to have much of it for other people, could it be that your mother didn't have much of it for you? It's a hard pill to swallow yet a total game-changer if you ponder this point long and hard.

5.You Hold Grudges and Can’t Forgive (Because Your Mama’s Like That)

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Something that my mother would say to me while growing up is when you divorce someone who you had children with, you oftentimes feel like you're living with a ghost because the child can sometimes have so many of your ex's characteristics (umm, that is how DNA works). I know, straight up, that this was a direct point of contention with me and my mother because while I am like her in some ways, I'm also a lot like my late father. Oftentimes, I got punished, unjustifiably so, because of it. And even as an adult, I would still hear slick ish about my dad from her.

When a person can't fully forgive another individual, that typically leads to a grudge and a grudge leads to bitterness and all kinds of walls going up that folks think others should have to scale in order to "prove themselves". This is why forgiveness is so important because you can find yourself either in some pretty toxic dynamics or ultimately alone because no one wants to have to make up for stuff that wasn't their fault to begin with.

Forgiveness is a biblical principle (Matthew 6:14-15). There are also plenty of articles that speak to how beneficial it is, health-wise. If you're someone who has a hard time forgiving or you feel like folks have to basically kill themselves to get in your good graces (again), is that how your mother modeled forgiveness to you? Is that how you had to earn her forgiveness? Children tend to be extremely merciful beings. If as an adult, you aren't that way, something's up. What is it?

6.You’re Scared to Become a Mother (Because of How Your Mama Treated You)

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My journey to healing as it relates to my own mother has been a roller coaster ride. Some things you don't "get over", you just find ways to deal with. Anyway, I've been open about the fact that I've had four abortions before. I remember my mother once calling me, out of the blue, to say that she apologized for the role that she played in them. I found that to be pretty humbling and insightful on her part because while it was ultimately my decision, because of so much that had transpired in my childhood, I must admit that a part of me was fearful to carry a child to term because I thought the generational curse of abuse would affect my own babies too.

Listen, I am in my mid-40s and while I still have a cycle and have been told that I could still conceive if I want to, I want to be married first. Plus, I personally don't want to be an older parent (more because of what some of my friends with older parents have to deal with in the here and now). I'm pretty sure my womb is closed. I am at peace.

However, if you're someone who does desire children deep down, yet you're making choices that are taking you further away from your want to be a mom (you're choosing the wrong men, you're not proactively preparing for motherhood, etc.), this is another sign that you could very well have mama issues. The way to figure it out is to reflect on what your mom did well as a parent and what she didn't. If the cons outweigh the pros, figure out how to work through that because, while your mother did indeed influence you, she is not you. You can heal and become a great mother. Don't let fear of what someone else did stand in the way. OK?

7.This Triggered TF Outta You. Because.

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Lately, I've been listening to some men's podcasts on women. What's a trip to me is whenever female guests come on, a lot of them get super defensive when the guys talk about what they need in a relationship and what they don't like that some women do. While sometimes it can be hard to hear, I don't personalize it because there's nothing to get angry about. Where it applies to me, I appreciate their input (because I wanna grow); where it doesn't, why get triggered? It's not my issue.

Comparing that to this article, any of what I shared has caused you to get angry, put you on edge or really hit you in your gut, ask yourself why that is the case. Because, at the end of the day, this piece had little to do with us and more to do with our mamas. If you do see yourself anywhere in here, you've got time to make some changes. If you see your mother in here, pray on and meditate about if it's a conversation worth having with her. If none of this applies, girl, give thanks. A healthy childhood consists of healthy parents and when you have healthy parents, you've got a far greater chance at being a healthy adult who creates healthy kids too.

Daddies? They catch a lot of hell out here. Yet they didn't make us alone. Getting free from various mommy issues can make all of the difference in the world. Please make sure that you do, OK? For your sake and the sake of those who love you…now that you are your own person. An adult.

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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