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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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.


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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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