Daheem Din Therapy

Breaking the silence: Maternal Rejection and its impact on Mental Health

The bond between a mother and her child is often considered one of the most profound and enduring connections in human relationships. Mothers are typically seen as nurturing, loving, and caring figures in a child’s life, providing a sense of security and emotional support. However, not all mother-child relationships are built on a solid foundation of love and care, maternal rejection is a real experience individuals go through. I remember a client, who had given birth to her daughter, came to me grappling with self-doubt, insecurity and deep sense of sadness. Her becoming a mother had brought up, her feelings towards her own mother and that was the beginning to our journey to unpack her relationship with her mother infected with rejection.

In this blog post, I will delve into the complexities of maternal rejection, its profound impact on individuals, and the significance of acknowledging and working through these feelings.

For many, the idea of a mother rejecting her own child can be incredibly hard to accept. Societal expectations dictate that a mother’s love and support should be unwavering and unconditional. Acknowledging one’s mother’s rejection may feel like a betrayal of trust or disloyalty to the relationship they have with their mother. Many clients feel guilty discussing maternal rejection, which hinder addressing their emotional pain.

When addressing maternal rejection, this process can be challenging and sensitive. I have often observed the internal conflict the clients experience when gently broaching the subject. When phrases like, “You felt dismissed by her,” or “You could never appease her” are used to define mother’s relationship.  These statements are not intended to assign blame or provoke negative feelings, but rather to help clients understand and come to terms with their experiences. The goal is to develop a more realistic view of their relationship with their mother, seeing her not as the ideal individual who could do no wrong but as a fallible human being with her own story.

It is crucial to recognize that the work needed to heal from maternal rejection is focused on oneself in the present. It involves empowering individuals to confront the pain and the deep-seated feelings of rejection. In my clients, I’ve observed how these feelings become internalized and shape one’s identity, often manifesting in how they form their relationships. Tormented by feelings of worthlessness, it can be challenging to establish healthy boundaries with one own self and in other relationships.

One is left with a deep sense of being unlovable, wanting  to seeking external validation to compensate for the lack of maternal acceptance. This insecurity can make it challenging to trust others or to feel secure in close relationships.

It is more often than less I see clients might engage in people-pleasing to gain approval from others, turning to substance abuse or addiction to numb the emotional distress, or becoming highly adaptive to fit into different social situations.

Despite the therapy room being a safe container in which all these feelings, thoughts, and behaviors can be voiced, explored, and reflected upon, clients often bring fear of intimacy and vulnerability, hesitating to open up and share their true self, fearing they will be rejected once again. It is not uncommon for clients to reenact their relational wounding with their therapist. In order for client to feel safe to explore himself/herself a strong therapeutic alliance needs to be formed, so when the client does reenact his/her wounding the alliance can contain it.


Embark with me on a Transformative Journey towards more fulfilling and harmonious relationships