The five mother types

What's your mother type? Family therapist Dr Stephan Poulter explains the five mother types and their corresponding strengths and legacies...


the five mother types

What are the five mother types?

The five mother types are perfectionist, unpredictable, best friend, me-first and complete. These all relate to the interactions a mother has with her child, and the relationship they build together. By understanding your mother type (or, perhaps what type your own mother is), you can take healthy, positive steps to heal or strengthen your family relationships.

1. Perfectionist mother

A perfectionist mother is typically, an over-controlling, fearful and anxious woman for whom appearance is everything. According to Poulter, ‘The children of a perfectionist mother tend to be hypercritical of themselves, feeling inadequate and emotionally empty.’

Children of a perfectionist mother…

Your strengths: You can have a strong sense of commitment in relationships, and are responsible and reliable in everything you do. You also value hard work and persistence as core character qualities.

Emotional legacy: You always feel that the opinions of others are far more important than your own. You also often have a heightened sense that the world is watching and judging you.

2. Unpredictable mother

Anxious, angry, excessively emotional, an unpredictable mother is overwhelmed by feelings so her parenting style is based purely on mood. This type has the most chaotic of the five mother types. She creates problems, issues and crises in her mind, through her emotions and relationships, and passes them on to her children.

Children of an unpredictable mother…

Your strengths: Excellent people skills and the ability to be empathic. Often great motivators, you offer emotional support to colleagues as well as friends and family.

Emotional legacy: Growing up with an ingrained need to take care of people and their emotional issues, you can be overwhelmed by emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. You also learn early on how to read people and situations, in order to manage the strong feelings of others.

five mother types

3. The best friend mother

A best friend mother enjoys treating her children as equals in order to avoid the responsibility of setting boundaries. This mother believes her life would be over if she embraced motherhood so avoids that role.

Instead, both child and parent assume the role of emotional confidante and partner, leaving the child effectively motherless. ‘In this situation, the emotional needs of the mother are so consuming, she has to rely on the child to meet them,’ says Poulter.

Children of a best friend mother…

Your strengths: You understand the importance of boundaries between parents, children, colleagues and families. Because of your sense of motherlessness, you are often aware that you take the lead and assume the responsible role as an adult.

Emotional legacy: You may feel emotionally neglected with a fear of rejection. You can also be resentful and bitter in relationships, tending to feel unloved and under-appreciated.

4. The me-first mother

One of the most prevalent mothering styles, me-firsts are unable to view their children as separate individuals and tend to be self-absorbed and insecure. Their offspring will learn from an early age that their role is to make their mother shine.

Children of a me-first mother…

Your strengths: You are extremely good at supporting others, and are intuitive and insightful with people in all types of relationships. You are also loyal and supportive, able to appreciate other people’s needs and solve problems.

Emotional legacy: You doubt your own decision-making abilities. You find it difficult to trust your own feelings on any matter because you view your mother’s opinion as more important and powerful than your own.

5. The complete mother

The complete mother combines the best elements of the other four mother types. Emotionally balanced, she can see her children as individuals and help them achieve their own independence.

She isn’t necessarily perfect herself but whatever her emotional circumstances, she is committed to motherhood — regardless of other responsibilities outside the home. According to Poulter, this ideal is only experienced by about 10 per cent of us.

Children of a complete mother…

Your strengths: Because you feel loved and understood, you can take risks, embrace change and initiate relationships without fear of rejection.

Emotional legacy: You will have the ability and insight to appreciate that other people, colleagues and family members have their own perspectives. You’ll be able to navigate the challenges of becoming independent and won’t feel emotionally enmeshed with your mother.

How do you get on with your mother? Take our test to find out!

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