Better Mother-Daughter Relationships
Solutions for Confusion, Uncertainty and Smothering
A woman’s relationship with her mother may be the most influential relationship
of her life. It will impact all her relationships … especially with her partners.
Throughout history, women have been valued by men as lovers, child-bearers and housekeepers. Many parents once measured their daughters’ worth by their ability to bear and raise children, and to keep a home clean. And the world is changing.
Often my mother is the last person I want to see.
But she’s the first person I call when I need help.
Mothers who appreciate that their daughters will develop different values and priorities have more chance of enjoying healthy relationships with their daughters.
My daughter is the love of my life although I see her as a very needy child.
I try to give her all the love that my mother never gave me.
Girls Become Women
Relationships between mothers and daughters change as the daughters mature and the mothers age. As girls become teenagers, young adults and independent women, mothers and daughters may argue and disagree.
Conflict can become normal. Many daughters idolize their mothers when young, but pull away during adolescence. Some mothers cannot accept that their daughters have become adults, and try to treat their adult daughters as young children.
Some women say that they prefer their daughters to their sons, perhaps because they want to share feminine thoughts and ideas. Mothers who say that they prefer their sons often want male support or are following a cultural bias.
The greatest blessings that mothers can give to their children may be
listening carefully, offering experience and responding kindly yet honestly.
Listen to me!
When a mother says that she wants her child to listen … she often means that she wants obedience. Many women tell us that they were criticized by their mothers for their choices of education, career, boyfriends and partners. These same daughters may later blame their mothers for problems with their education, career, boyfriends and partners. See Troubled Teenage Girls
Some mothers advise their daughters to be realistic by preparing for boring lives – yet the same mothers may advise their sons to be optimistic and prepare for success.
My Mom blames her mother for her own problems – but Grandma was a good woman,
wise and kind, although she did like my uncles more than Mom. Grandma used to
say that her mother favored her brothers … daughters were expected to disappear.
Most people repeat what they were taught. Many women recognize their mothers’ conflicts and unfairness, yet burden their own daughters with similar demands.
Most people seem to believe that their childhood was normal, and may try to impose their own childhood norms onto their children. But as the world changes, so does the sense of normal, which can lead to mother-daughter conflicts:
My mother trained me never to say, “No“.
But I cannot say a honest “Yes“, if I cannot say, “No“.
Daughters and Rivals
Healthy partners will disagree with each other sometimes, but they keep their conflicts and arguments away from their children, while immature parents more often draw their children into their conflicts (see parental alienation).
If parents cannot resolve their own conflicts, their children may try to defend one parent (seen as a victim) from the other (the victimizer). Children of parents who encourage parental alienation may identify with the victims and show chronic anger.
My mother was better educated and from a better family than my father, and she
always talked about divorcing him … like Grandma did … and now I’m doing it.
I carry Mom and Grandma on my back. I do not want my daughters to carry me.
A daughter may come to believe that her mother is a victim of her father, and sympathize with her mother. By agreeing with her mother’s criticism of her father, they may feel closer. But if the daughter says … “No, my father is a good man!” the mother may punish her daughter for taking her father’s side. If such a daughter supports her father – her mother may reject her.
When my parents separated after my mother’s love affair, I was loyal to my father.
My mother resented my loyalty and still resents me … she has never got over it.
Many people have told us that in their families, complaining and criticizing were normal female communications. Children who often witness their fathers’ frustration may consider irritation and anger to be normal male behavior.
“Who can be happy?” was always an issue in our family.
I sabotaged my marriage to avoid the guilt of being happier than my depressed mother.
Daughters who identify with their mothers may seek partners who are similar to their fathers, and relate to them in similar ways as their mothers related to their fathers. After a series of predictable relationship problems, such daughters risk following their mothers into codependence and/or a lonely depression.
Immature parents may involve their children in their conflicts. A lonely wife may fixate on her son, while an insecure husband may love his daughter as a substitute for a wife. These cycles of fixations and obsessions can continue across generations. Covert emotional incest is commonplace … yet hidden in plain sight.
Motherhood during Adolescence
While mature mothers can enjoy the responsibilities of motherhood, immature mothers may complain about their lost freedom. Daughters of immature mothers may not learn how to cooperate in a partnership.
Some mothers try to relive their youth through their daughters. They try to immerse themselves into their daughter’s lives. Their daughters rarely appreciate this – they want mature, loving mothers – not immature women pretending to be their best friends.
I had three lovely daughters but they all became stupid teenagers.
The more I tried to help them – the more they avoided me.
Daughters who reject a dominant mother’s demands may be called unloving or uncaring by their mothers, who may become depressed when their daughters leave, marry or follow their own life paths.
My arguments with my mother leave me exhausted … I want her to listen to me –
not just give me the same tired advice that I heard from my grandmother.
When I feel judged or not good enough, I avoid my mother. Georgia
Most daughters will appreciate their mothers’ care (but not their criticism) while they gain experience in partnership and parenthood. Most daughters will welcome their mother’s support (but not their control) when they are pregnant or in a crisis.
Do you want to solve emotional issues such as mother-daughter problems?