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It has been said that our parents have a major impact on our relationships with others later in life. And while that has been the topic of debate, there are most definitely aspects of our childhood, and our relationships with our parents that can impact our love language down the road.

Toxic mothers are mothers that treat their children in a way that is devastating to their overall personality and self-perception. And because our mothers are the ones who are our natural caregivers, they also shape how we love others. When a toxic mother is cruel, cold, or invalidating, it can be devastating to how we view ourselves and how we show love to others. Here are 9 behaviors of a toxic mother that impacts our relationships later in life.

1. She invalidates them.

Toxic mothers often invalidate their child and their feelings and emotions. Rather than empathizing with her child and helping them through their emotions, she shuts them down and acts as though their emotions are not valid.

2. She belittles them.

While a healthy parent-child dynamic provides security, and love to their child, a toxic mother works to belittle and undermine her child. Oftentimes, their behavior is downright abuse.

3. She manipulates them.

And to get what she wants, she will do whatever it takes, including manipulation. Some manipulation tactics may include guilt-tripping or even playing the victim.

4. She gaslights them.

When all else fails, a toxic mother will gaslight, which means she will work to make her child feel as though their sense of reality is wrong. When confronted with abuse or bad behavior, she will say the incident never happened and call her child-sensitive or even crazy.

5. She goes from placing her child on a pedestal to tearing them down.

Toxic mothers will also manipulate their children by in one moment acting as though they are perfect and can do no wrong, while in the next abusing them and making them feel insecure and unloved. This vicious cycle works to make the child feel as though their mother isn’t as bad as she seems and in turn, they have had an insecure sense of themselves.

6. She withholds love.

Rather than teaching her child healthy and unconditional love, the toxic mother uses love as a weapon to manipulate her child and keep control over them. Due to this, their relationships greatly suffer down the road, because such behavior can make them clingy, insecure, and afraid of abandonment.

7. She stonewalls them.

During arguments or debates, the toxic mother will shut down and walk away. There is no reason or logic in a conversation with her unless your opinion aligns with hers.

8. She shames them.

Toxic mothers also oftentimes shame and blame their children, embarrassing them in front of everyone. In turn, she will slowly chip away at their self-esteem, making them feel fragile and unlovable.

9. She compares them.

In other cases, she may compare her children with their siblings, or with other people’s children. Her main message is always “You are never good enough, you are unworthy of love unless you do my bidding.”