The Five Types of Mothers and Their Emotional Influence

The link a mother establishes with her child determines how they relate to themselves and others. In this article, you can discover how different types of mother influence their children.
The Five Types of Mothers and Their Emotional Influence

Last update: 17 August, 2021

Do you ever make small mistakes yet feel like an absolute failure? Do you have a strong emotional dependence on your partner? Or, do you avoid commitment at all costs? Perhaps you have a hard time making decisions? All these types of situations happen every day in the lives of many people. Furthermore, although it may seem surprising, they’re the result of childhood experiences and the different types of mothering they may have experienced.

In his book, The Mother Factor: How Your Mother’s Emotional Legacy Impacts Your Life, American psychologist, Dr. Stephan Poulter concluded that the influence of the bond you establish with your mother is evident even in your adult life. It reflects in your strengths, weaknesses, self-esteem, and the way you relate to others.

He described five types of mothers in his book. They all have their own characteristics and pass on different legacies to their descendants. Continue reading to find out more about them.

“My mom smiled at me. Her smile kind of hugged me.”

-R. J. Palacio-

The five types of mothers

According to the author, there are five categories of mothers. The vast majority fall into one of them. However, one mother might possess the characteristics of several types. Nevertheless, one characteristic usually dominates.

A woman lecturing a crying child.

The perfectionist mother

These mothers are controlling, anxious, and deeply care about outward appearances. Their goal is to make their children and family seem perfect in the eyes of the world.

These attitudes teach children to be hypercritical of themselves and to feel constantly insufficient and inadequate. They often have a great fear of criticism and rejection from other people yet they tend to judge others at the same time. For this reason, they end up being highly demanding people. Furthermore, they have no patience for mistakes and don’t tolerate frustration.

The unpredictable mother

These women apply a chaotic parenting style, based on their emotional state at the time. In fact, they don’t know how to manage their emotions and let them affect the way they interact with their children.

Children of these mothers tend to develop an ambivalent attachment and grow up in a constant state of alertness. As a matter of fact, they’re forced to learn to read their mother’s emotional state in order to know what to expect from them.

These children manifest their anxiety in the rest of their relationships as well. In addition, they’re fearful and unable to trust the stability of others’ affection. They also tend to overreact to seemingly trivial matters.

The best friend mother

These mothers seldom set boundaries. They share secrets and even clothes with their children and behave as their equals. Furthermore, they don’t assume their role as a responsible adult and may even burden their children with the responsibility of being adults and caregivers.

Their children can grow up feeling abandoned or neglected. They’ll also experience great fear of rejection and a tendency to feel unloved in their adult relationships. In addition, they’re likely to become involved in unbalanced relationships where they’ll take on the caregiving role.

The me-first mother

These types of mothers are self-centered, selfish and their children aren’t their priority. Thus, they grow up feeling their role is to fulfill their mother’s wants and needs and that she’s always right. In effect, their opinions become invalid and don’t even matter. The lack of emotional support they receive leads them to doubt themselves and their own abilities.

The complete mother

This is the ideal style of mother. However, only approximately 10% of children are lucky enough to have one. They’re balanced, loving women who are capable of guiding and setting limits.

These mothers encourage the development of autonomy and individuality. In this way, children grow up with healthy self-esteem. They feel loved and confident. As a result, they’re able to take risks, adapt to change, and establish healthy relationships.

A child and a woman talking.

All types of mothers foster the development of strengths

The above view might appear to be somewhat pessimistic. Indeed, it would appear that only a small percentage of people get to enjoy the benefits of proper parenting and secure attachment. Nevertheless, all types of mothers, and the different educational contexts they create, contribute to building certain strengths in their children.

For example, the children of perfectionist mothers are responsible and persevering at work. On the other hand, unpredictable mothers lead a child to develop great empathic capacity  Finally, those raised with best friend mothers become decisive adults capable of taking the initiative.

In short, nobody can change the conditions of their childhood. However, they do have the ability to extract valuable tools and learn from those circumstances. Indeed, everyone has strengths. Whether they choose to take advantage of them or remain anchored in thoughts of what might’ve been is up to them.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Poulter, S. B. (2010). El legado de las madres: La influencia de su herencia emocional en nuestra vida (1.a ed.). Barcelona, España: URANO, EDICIONES.
  • Martínez, V. S., Castañeiras, C. E., & Posada, M. C. (2011). Estilos de apego y autoconcepto: bases para una adolescencia positiva. Psicodebate11, 27-42.
  • Sánchez Herrero, M. (2011). Apego en la infancia y apego adulto: influencia en las relaciones amorosas y sexuales. Recuperado mayo de 2021, de

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.