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Overprotective Mothers Create Anxious Children/Adults


In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the impact that an overprotective parent has on a child, specifically the overprotective mother.

First a quick update:

The Breakup Test
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4 Reasons Men Fear Commitment
Women often comment to me that they are confused about the reasons that men they have encountered are commitment-phobic and why so many more men are refusing to commit to relationships or marriage. Watch my video for the 4 reasons men fear or avoid commitment

Now, let’s talk about the impact that an overprotective parent has on a child, specifically the overprotective mother.

Do you know someone who becomes highly anxious or overly preoccupied when they enter a relationship? They constantly worry, crave intimacy but are self-critical, insecure, jealous, or suspicious; they fear rejection and abandonment and constantly seek approval and reassurance from their partner and cling desperately to their partner; they are consumed by the relationship and are often afraid and lost without their partner.

They suffer from separation anxiety – fear of being alone, rejected or abandoned; they take ‘no’ personally.

This behavioral style in relationships is known as Anxious Preoccupied Attachment. Attachment is the emotional bond between human beings which transcends time and space, and it is determined by the relationship between the child and primary caregiver(s) in the first 5 years.

Anxious Preoccupied Attachment can be the result of an overprotective parent or an insensitive or emotionally inconsistent parent. Research reveals that the strongest indicator of an insecure anxious attachment style is the overprotective mother!

Because mother is usually the primary caretaker and the first important attachment figure for a child, the relationship with mother appears to be most important in determining the child’s attachment style.

I teach that the role of the parent/caretaker is to give to the child everything that he/she needs to realize his/her full potential. Accordingly, the role of the child is to receive.

Unfortunately, those roles can be reversed whereby the child becomes the parent or caretaker or, the parent can seek to get love from the child instead of giving to the child, or the parent might be living vicariously through the child. An example of the latter might be beauty pageant moms who are usually extremely unhealthy and demand perfection of their daughters and harshly push them to perform and win.

An overprotective mother might actually be seeking and longing for love herself, and thus, unconsciously she turns to the child to get that love. She has high anxiety and depressive symptoms. Perhaps she is alone and lonely, a single parent or has been divorced or ‘abandoned’ and turns to her child as her source of love and as her best friend.

The overprotective mother behaves and demonstrates ‘love’ with anxiety; she fails to honor the child’s boundaries (physical, emotional, social and psychological boundaries), invades his/her privacy and constantly displays and models anxiety and fear. She, too, may have her own anxious attachment style.

The overprotective mother creates a bubble and seals herself and her child in that bubble. She becomes clingy and transfers her fears by desperately trying to protect her child from all forms of harm, hurt, rejection, pain, unhappiness, and disappointments.

10 Behaviors of The Overprotective Mother
The Overprotective Mother:

1. Clings to or suffocates the child
2. Persistently shares the bed with her child all night and on a regular basis, sometimes sleeping in the child’s bed (creating enmeshment or blurred lines around identity, preventing the child from developing self-soothing or emotional regulation; the child becomes anxiously and physically attached to mom)
3. Lives vicariously through her child
4. Micromanages the child and the child’s friends
5. Discourages independence
6. Overly consoles the child (preventing the child from learning to self-soothe and regulate emotions)
7. Fails to teach the child responsibility (blunting the child’s autonomy and self-determination)
8. Stops her child from taking any risks (thus depriving the child of tapping into his/her own resources and resiliency)
9. Fails to teach any form of coping via independence and self-trust/self-reliance (depriving the child from learning and developing problem-solving skills)
10. Constantly monitors the child’s activities and behavior, again creating within the child self-doubt, fear, and anxiety of not being good enough or capable.

The constant transference of anxiety from the mother to the child can lead to high anxiety in the child, perfectionism, unhealthy self-concepts, eating disorders, fears of separation, rejection and abandonment. (Studies show that mothers of anorexic teens possess “high maternal trait anxiety levels”, felt severe distress when they were separated from their children, and had high anxiety levels when they first allowed their daughters to spend a night away from home.)

The child doesn’t believe in herself or her capabilities, is insecure, filled with self-doubt, harshly self-critical & judgmental, thinks she is inferior, and constantly seeks the approval, reassurance and validation of others even though that approval, reassurance and validation fails to soothe, nourish or heal her.

The child develops an extremely harsh critical inner voice which echoes self-loathing, self-judgment and shame; the child subconsciously thinks there is something innately wrong with her and doesn’t believe in her self-worth or her own inner strength.

The secure child (based on a Secure Attachment style) is the result of parents who were attentive, responsive, sensitive, and able to meet the emotional needs of the child; the balance was created by the mother who was accepting and father who encouraged independence. If the mother was rejecting in her approach and care for the child, then he/she grows up avoiding relationships (Avoidant Attachment.)

Thus, a child’s experience of love based on the quality of the relationship with mother/primary caretaker in the first five years determines the child’s conceptions of love: love grows with time, jealousy is a natural part of love, love is stifling, love is scary, or love is relatively unimportant.

Accordingly, the child’s attachment style persists into adulthood creating the type of person described in the beginning of this article: an anxious, smothering person with self-doubt and insecurity who desperately seeks intimacy, doesn’t trust and fears abandonment and rejection, believing that their partner won’t love them back or to the same degree, and thus driving them to be impulsive, clingy and overly dependent on their partner.

Anxiety and insecurities can be healed and resolved; self-doubt, fear and desperation can be transformed into self-efficacy, resiliency, healthy connections and security in oneself and with others. The subconscious belief that you are not safe or lovable can be transformed into deep feelings of safety, security, self-worth and lovability.

I use a special process that I have organically developed over many years called Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique (SRTT) and if you are suffering from anxiety or fears of rejection and abandonment and are seeking peace, security, self-love, and belief in your own capabilities, book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D. s
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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