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Coping When Nothing is Ever Good Enough for Your Mom

“If it’s not one thing, it’s my mother!” What do you do when nothing is good enough for your mom? These tips for daughters will help you see your family differently. Your mother may not be able to accept you for who you are, but you can change how you see her. And that has the power to change everything.

“I have an extremely overbearing and sensitive mother,” says Marcy on How to Cope With Controlling Parents When You Live at Home. “She blows up at every single little thing! I would love to have a normal family but right now I am financially dependent on my parents and I can’t support myself to graduate. Nothing is ever good enough for my mom but I can’t leave. Help, I’m stuck!”

Whether you’re a teen daughter living at home or an adult child who feels criticized and imperfect every day, you know what it’s like to feel stuck. Mother-daughter relationships are complicated and emotional…especially when both mother and daughter are smart, in touch with their emotions, and alive to the wonder of this world.

These tips for coping when nothing is ever good enough for your mom are about you, not her. You can’t change your mother, and you may not be able to change where you live, how often you see her, and when she shows up in your life. But you can change how you respond to her…and that can really can change everything.

When Nothing is Good Enough for Your Mom

Here’s the rest of my reader Marcy’s comment:

“When I was young, my mother hit me and my brother when she thought we didn’t do things right,” says Marcy. “I still remember some of the reasons I got into trouble for not being perfect. Whenever I bring them up now she gets defensive and denies that she ever did such a thing.”

1. Avoid bringing up the past

When Nothing is Ever Good Enough for Your Mom
When Nothing is Ever Good Enough for My Mom

I’m a big fan of talking about relationships because it can be healing and healthy. However, mother-daughter relationships are complicated and emotional. Unless both you and your mom are willing to face both of your mistakes and actively trying to repair your relationship, there is no point talking about the past. In fact – unless you and she are in family counseling together – it can be harmful and destructive to talk about your mother’s mistreatment and problems.

If you decide to bring up the past, have a healthy reason for doing so. An unhealthy reason is to prove that she was wrong and you were right, that nothing was ever good enough for your mom, and that you were doing the best you could. Even if your mom agrees that you weren’t a good enough daughter and that she treated you unfairly, you aren’t really gaining anything by forcing her to admit something she’s not ready for.

2. If you do talk about the past, have healthy reasons

Talking about past memories, emotions and experiences can definitely bring mothers and daughters closer together! There is no doubt that talking about a relationship can be healing and healthy. The problem is when one person isn’t ready to talk about the past, or if there are unhealthy reasons for talking about the relationship, or if neither mother nor daughter are ready to face their mistakes.

The safest, healthiest time to bring up the past is when you’re with a family therapist or counselor. It can also be good to talk about the past when your mom is willing to see herself objectively – and even to admit that nothing you did was good enough. You also need to be willing to see your own behavior from your mother’s perspective, and be open to trying to understand what she was thinking and feeling.

Are you coping with problems with your in-laws? Read How to Deal With a Mother-in-Law Who Hates You.

3. Accept your mother for who she is

My mom is schizophrenic; I moved in and out of foster homes for most of my childhood. I spent most of my 20s resenting my parents (my dad wasn’t around) and envying people with “normal” parents. It took me a long time to accept my mother for who she is…but when I did, I saw everything differently. I realized that she was doing the best she could. Nothing was ever good enough for her own mother, which affected her mentally and emotionally. When I learned how many other problems my mom dealt with, I realized why she was the way she was.

How much do you know about your mom? Find out more about her personality, past, childhood, and life. The more you know about your mother, the more you’ll learn why nothing is ever good enough. You’ll feel compassion and empathy towards her…and that will change how you see her.

Acceptance doesn’t mean you allow your mom (or anyone) to abuse or mistreat you. It just means you stop trying to change her.

4. Accept yourself for who you are

If you can accept your mom for who she is, then you can accept yourself for who you are. Your mother may be a perfectionist who can’t accept you for who you are. Your mom may tell you that nothing you do is good enough. She may make you feel terrible about yourself.

That hurts, doesn’t it? Our moms are supposed to love and comfort us…it’s devastating when they hurt and destroy us. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and we wish we had different parents. We wish our moms were healthy and happy and good to us! But when our mothers can’t give us the acceptance, compassion and love we need, we have to find it somewhere else.

5. Think about what you wish your mom could give you

I wish my mom had taught me more about life. She wasn’t the “nothing is ever good enough” type of mom…she just neglected me. She wasn’t there for me; I had to learn everything on my own. I wish my mom had taught me wisdom, love, compassion, gentleness and kindness.

What do you wish your mom could give you? Maybe she doesn’t accept you for who you are. Nothing is good enough because your mother wants you to do better, be better, know more, be smarter. Maybe you just want to be loved for who you are and what you can do.

6. Be kind and gentle to yourself

When you don’t get the love and acceptance you yearn for from your mother, you may look for it in other people. Some teen girls and adult daughters look for love and acceptance in men; the more men they attract, the more loved they feel. The problem is that this type of love doesn’t last. It’s unhealthy and destructive.

How can you be kind and gentle to yourself in healthy ways? One of the nicest, kindest, most loving things I ever did for myself was learning how to stop criticizing myself. I used to hate myself, call myself names, and say I wasn’t good enough. It was awful, the way I talked to myself.

Your mom may say nothing is ever good enough for her, and you can’t control what she says to you. But you can control what you think. You have the power to choose to replace those “I’m not good enough” thoughts with healthier ones.

7. Learn how to feel good enough – no matter what your mom says

No parent can give you everything you need. And, your problems with your mother will keep getting worse if you keep falling back into the same old family patterns and arguments. The good news is that you don’t have to live in emotional turmoil or pain for the rest of your life! You can heal and move forward. You can choose healthier, happier ways to cope with a mom who doesn’t love you for who you are.

not good enough for mother

It helped me to read Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Dr. Karyl McBride. Learning why some moms never think their daughters are good enough can help you see your own mom more objectively. This will help you overcome a difficult mother-daughter relationship, and not let your mom affect you so much.

Do you struggle with low self-esteem, insecurity, and lack of confidence? If so, you’re normal! When you grow up thinking nothing is every good enough for your mom, you won’t feel good about yourself. Read How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough.

What have I missed? Your comments are welcome below! Feel free to write about yourself, your mother, and your family. Writing can help clear away the cobwebs and help you see life more clearly.


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66 thoughts on “Coping When Nothing is Ever Good Enough for Your Mom”

  1. My mom says I can never do anything, she ignores the things I do right and all she talks about are the things I do wrong. When she’s happy she complements me and says I am a good child, but when she is mad, she says all kinds of hurtful and nasty things that makes my heart crumple. I can’t stop crying because her words hurt so much. I look up articles about things like this, I don’t even read them much but it just helps enough to scroll though it, to know that people write about this.

  2. What are some signs of a narcissistic mother? Can she be narcissistic if she’s not full of herself but is rather insecure? I picture narcissists as selfish egotistical people, but can they simply be insecure people who take everything as a personal attack or is that something different?

  3. I came to this page after an argument with my mum. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone, and that mums can be wrong, after all. I am in a nuclear family of just me, my mum and my brother. My relationship with my mum is so complex because there’s both the good and bad, and from young I kept justifying the bad because of the good. We share a close bond, reflect on deep things together, but somehow when her controlling side comes out she’s really obsessive and can’t see any wrong in her behaviour. I have grown up with a constant fear of her especially because I can see her OCD (not diagnosed but it’s very obvious to all the ppl I talk to) and have always been walking around eggshells around her. It’s not just an obsession with cleanliness but also an obsession with “caring for me”. She somehow taught my brother to do things like that and so I haven’t had a peer in my family to talk to about this most of the time. When I was 19 I told my mum that she should get help but that only made her villainise me. I am struggling to heal from everything but also feel sympathy for her as I can see that she is an un-healed person. Praying that we both will heal and even if acceptance gives relief, there’s that growth mindset in my subconscious mind (far far away) that believes that she’ll change one day. I don’t wanna walk away but am always wishing for the time for marriage to come soon and for my dependency on my mum as a sick child to go away. Thinking about the wishes I have for my mum (or what I want from her) will definitely help me see who in my support system I can get those things from. Will try this.