I am the daughter of a single mom. When I was three, my mother married a man who is not my father. Now I am married and pregnant. There are problems in my marriage, and my mother says that I will pay tears of blood with my child, the same as she had to do with me.

What fault is it of mine that she should have marriage problems? I didn’t ask her to bring me into the world!

Dear Friend,

We mothers can say some thoughtless, hurtful, and sometimes even evil things to our children! Some mothers say things that they regret. Others say things that are relatively minor in importance, but seem much more important when expressed. And other mothers are so psychologically disturbed that they deliberately use words to hurt the ones they love.

Many people have written to tell us how their mother has hurt them emotionally. In most cases, we don’t believe that the mothers set out to deliberately hurt those whom they should love and protect the most. The most common situation is when the mother is tired, overworked, and overwhelmed. She lashes out at one child or all of them because she doesn’t have a better place to vent her anger. She doesn’t plan it; it just happens spontaneously. Then she regrets what she has said, and sometimes apologizes for it. However, if this is repeated often, her apologies do not make up for the damage that she has done. She doesn’t realize that her children may suffer the consequences of her words well into adulthood.

In other cases, a mother may want the best for her child, but the child doesn’t seem to be taking her advice. This is especially true when a child becomes a teenager or enters young adulthood. She gives her advice repeatedly, but the child doesn’t follow it. She becomes frustrated because she believes that her advice would make the child’s life easier. In her frustration, she says hurtful things. She uses the hurtful words as a weapon to try and force the child to do what she believes is in his best interest. But her child cannot hear her intentions; he only hears her words, and those words usually cause him to determine not to do anything she advises.

In a small number of cases, a mother has psychological problems. This mental illness can be the result of abuse in her own life, which has led to a chemical imbalance in her brain. Or, the brain can have an imbalance not caused by circumstances. Either way, this mother may say and do evil things to her children. She needs professional help, and her children will need help as well.

We have no way to determine the reasons behind your mother’s hurtful words. You may have an idea of the cause because you are the one who has lived with her most of your life. But what is most important for you to know is that your mother’s words are not related in any way to what will happen in your marriage or with your child. You are the one who gets to decide your future.

Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, said, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”(1) Your mother’s words are reckless and have truly cut you up emotionally, as a sword would do. But you now have the opportunity to guard your own words to your child so that the cycle will not continue. Your child never has to hear hurtful words from your mouth. Instead, you can choose to control your anger and frustration so that your son or daughter never has to suffer as you have.

Ask God, and He will help you,

1 Pr 12:18