A woman's relationship with her mother may be the most influential
of her life. It will impact all her relationships ...
especially with her partners.
Contact us to manage emotions and to solve mother-daughter
Throughout history, women have been valued by men as lovers, child-bearers and housekeepers.
Many parents also measure their daughters' worth by their ability to
bear and raise children, and to keep a home clean. And the world is changing.
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.
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
Some women say that they prefer their daughters to
their sons, perhaps because they want to share feminine
thoughts and ideas. Other mothers say that they prefer their sons - perhaps they want male support or
have a cultural bias.
The greatest blessings that mothers can give to their children
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
daughters to be realistic by preparing for boring lives - and the same
mothers may advise their sons to prepare for
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:
- Early marriage was normal
- Basic education was normal
- Nuclear families were normal
- Computers were at universities
- Repressive conservatism was normal
- Delayed marriage is normal
- Higher education is normal
- Broken families are normal
- Computers are in bedrooms
- Distrust of politicians is normal
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.
Healthy parents keep their conflicts and arguments away from their children, while
immature parents more often draw their children into their conflicts (see
If parents do not resolve their 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
later suffer chronic anger (identification with a victim).
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. If a daughter
agrees 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
than my depressed mother.
Daughters who identify with their mothers may
seek men who are similar to their fathers, and relate to those men 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 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 focus on his daughter. These cycles of fixations and obsessions
often continue across generations. Covert emotional incest
commonplace ... 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 - or at all.
Some mothers try to relive their youth through their daughters. They may 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.
I tried to help them but they hardly ever visit me now.
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.
feel judged or not good enough, I avoid my mother.
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)
are pregnant or in a crisis.
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