Hartl on Mother’s Day

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Johannes Hartl from the Augsburg Prayer House writes on the occasion of this year’s Mother’s Day:[1]

Sorry if this spoils your mood, but Mother’s Day can also evoke very painful memories for some. Those who read my posts know that I hold the value of healthy parenthood extremely high. But today is about the opposite. I’m curious about your thoughts. And as always: Yes, of course, both men and women, fathers and mothers manipulate, and there is no rule without exception, and nothing and no one should be generalized. Nevertheless, the phenomenon I described exists. Or what do you think?

Mom is the be(a)st.
😳 Thoughts on momipulation:
Today is Mother’s Day, and the value of a loving, empathetic mom cannot be estimated highly enough. But what if one has experienced the opposite?
There are many forms of toxic patterns in mothers. Examples:

  • Punishment through withdrawal of love
  • Emotional coldness
  • Spoiling to the point of dependency
  • Narcissism: Self-promotion of one’s own greatness as a mother
  • Playing children against the father
  • Verbal abuse
  • The child has to take care of the mother, not the other way around


  • “Can’t you see how bad I’m feeling?
  • You have to do what I want!”
  • “You are here to comfort me.”
  • “If you really loved me, you would…”
  • “I only mean well, so do what I say, even if you are already 31.”
  • Interference in relationships
  • Having a fixed plan for your life
  • Clinging: not allowing separation
The mood of the entire family is shaped by her negative emotions and must align with her expectations.
Such behavior always stems from the mother’s own painful history. At the same time, it deeply hurts those affected.
I wish for you to be able to clarify and reconcile your relationship with your mother. But reconciliation is not the first step. The first step is to break the lie that your mom is infallible and beyond criticism. If you were hurt, you must first acknowledge it unreservedly.
If you have a mother who was good to you, you have an invaluable treasure in your life. Don’t forget that this is a privilege and many people have painfully experienced the opposite.

Source: Facebook post by Johannes Hartl; Translation Wolf Paul[2]

I am infinitely grateful to God that I had a mother, Irmtraut Paul, who was good to me (in fact, to all six of us children) because she also had a good mother and grew up in a loving family (with ten children — just like us, with six children, stereotypically Catholic 🙂 ). She passed away 13 years ago and is safe with God. In her final year she suffered from increasing dementia; this was one of the most difficult times for me and my siblings. I still miss her from time to time.

And because we don’t celebrate Father’s Day in our family[3] here is a tribute to my father, Walter Paul, who passed away 31 years ago: he was a good, though not perfect, father, an avid mountain climber even after he lost both legs below the knees, and I still miss him even after all these years.

  1. I was going to post this on Sunday, but—understandably—obtaining permission took some time.[]
  2. With the aid of ChatGPT[]
  3. My father always thought Father’s Day was just a marketing gimmick, an opportunity to sell “manly” gifts, and I adopted his view[]
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