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Mum and daughter relationships

‘I love her so much but every time we speak we end up with a row. We are both angry and upset.’

Julie was talking about the relationship with her mum.

"Earlier or later in the conversation, she looks at me with a smug smile and tells me that I have turned out really nice. Thanks to her perfect parenting skills. And she did it all by herself, as my dad was totally useless. Such a shame I never take on board her advice, because she really worries about her grandchildren. I can’t stand it. I feel I have to defend my dad and justify how I raise my children. I feel angry, guilty and irritated with her. I have told her thousands of times before that my children are great, that dad was an okay dad to me and that she has to stop this glorifying herself and putting my dad and me down. And then the guilt kicks in. I don’t know what to do anymore to make her see how wrong she is."

What Julie is telling me is the following:

  1. My mum is dismissing me as a good parent

  2. She doesn’t think my children are great

  3. It is upsetting when she calls my dad useless

  4. Mum needs to change

What she also tells me, but isn’t aware of:

  1. It is important to be respected and appreciated by my mum. And clearly, she doesn’t appreciate my parenting skills. I want mum to understand that I am as good a mother as she is and I feel the need to be defensive and justifying myself. Unfortunately, that message doesn’t get through and the only result is irritation.

  2. I find the way my mother talks about her grandchildren insulting. She only looks at them from one angle and is not open to be positive about them. It feels unfair and I can’t resist to tell stories of how lovely they are and praise them. Only to get dismissed and put down.

  3. I love my dad and I see him as a lovely parent. I don’t care he could have been better. He was good enough for me and I hate it when she devalues him.

  4. I struggle with her opinions and she has to change them.

What can be changed to make the relationship between mother and daughter softer and easier?

Unfortunately, Julie wants to change her mum. But one of the principles in the ‘instruction book of life’ is that you can only change yourself. So the question really is: what changes can Julie make to stop the arguments between her and her mum?

  1. Julie needs to accept that her mum has a different opinion about raising children and they don’t need to agree. If she can take the comments as the voice of a different generation and then let it go, there would be no tension about this subject.

  2. If Julie doesn’t feel the need to stand up for her children, it will take the sting out of this subject. Her children are great to her and the approval of a grandmother is actually irrelevant.

  3. Her mum lashes out at her dad. Maybe in her eyes he hasn’t been supportive to her, but Julie has a different experience. Two different experiences, valid in their own right.

  4. It Julie can go along with the fact her mum has a different opinion. maybe they can agree to disagree. Which means there is no point in arguing and trying to be right in the eyes of the other. The result of ‘agree to disagree’ brings the subject of parenting and grandchildren to the level of exchange of factual information. Asking advice, contemplation and discussions are out of the equation.

  5. Julie can take control of their conversations. Knowing which subjects are tricky, she can avoid them. Or handle them in a different way. One of my ‘tricks’ is to have the perfect distraction to hand when you feel it might get out of hand. Distracting by changing to a topic that always sparks the highest interest of the other party: mums new hobby, the weather or her wedding day…..

  6. On a side note: all her mother’s criticisms are around parenting. In her days, that is what women did and were valued about. Her mum might be struggling with the fact that mothers these days are more active outside the family, work, have their own activities and are involved broader in the community. She might feel devalued by that and therefor defensively aggressive of what she did in her life………………..

So why am I sharing all this information?

The relationship between a mother and daughter is one of the most profound and influential connections in a woman's life, and it can significantly impact her romantic relationships. The dynamics, communication styles, and emotional patterns established within the mother-daughter bond can shape how a woman perceives herself, relates to others, and experiences love.

First and foremost, the quality of the mother-daughter relationship sets the foundation for understanding intimacy, trust, and vulnerability. A supportive and nurturing maternal relationship can instill a sense of security and self-worth in a daughter, which can positively influence her romantic partnerships.

Conversely, if the mother-daughter relationship is strained, distant, or unhealthy, it may lead to insecurities, fear of abandonment, or difficulties in forming secure attachments in romantic relationships.

The way a mother communicates with her daughter also plays a crucial role. Open and honest communication fosters emotional intelligence and empathy, qualities that are essential for healthy relationships. If a mother and daughter can openly express their feelings, thoughts, and needs, the daughter is more likely to develop effective communication skills and emotional resilience, which are invaluable assets in navigating romantic relationships.

Moreover, mothers serve as powerful role models for their daughters. A daughter observes her mother's behavior, attitudes, and beliefs about love, marriage, and partnership, often internalizing these lessons. If a mother demonstrates respect, equality, and healthy boundaries in her own romantic relationship, her daughter is more likely to seek out similar dynamics in her own love life. On the contrary, if a mother exhibits patterns of codependency, conflict avoidance, or unhealthy dependency, her daughter may replicate these patterns in her own relationships.

The mother-daughter relationship also influences how a woman perceives herself and her worthiness of love. A daughter's sense of self-esteem, self-love, and self-acceptance is often shaped by her mother's words and actions. A mother who consistently affirms her daughter's value and encourages her to pursue her passions and dreams instills a strong sense of self-worth, making it easier for the daughter to enter into fulfilling and loving relationships. Conversely, if a mother is critical, controlling, or dismissive of her daughter's needs and aspirations, the daughter may struggle with feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness in her romantic pursuits.

In conclusion, the mother-daughter relationship serves as a critical influence on a woman's love relationships. The quality of this bond, the communication patterns established within it, and the modeling of healthy behaviors all shape how a woman perceives herself, relates to others, and experiences love. By fostering a supportive, nurturing, and communicative relationship with her.

Does this resonate with you?

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Heather Prince is co-author of VIBE Luxury Coffee Table Book

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