Dear Mum….

The relationship between a mother and her daughter is often a complicated one. While there is most-often love, there can

The relationship between a mother and her daughter is often a complicated one. While there is most-often love, there can also be tension, anger, resentment and a myriad of other emotions, too.

Whether it’s the relationship we have with our own mother or the one we have with our daughter, there are different circumstances to account for and different feelings to deal with.

Dr Deborah Tannen recently explored this relationship in her book and spoke to numerous women about their feelings towards their mothers and daughters.

While she found that most women spoke of a deep underlying love for each other, there were other issues that got in the way of them having a functional relationship together.

“Women talk more than men. Talk is the glue that holds a relationship together for us. But the more you talk, the more chance there is to put your foot in it. And unlike men, women love to exchange secrets and talk about their troubles. So we make ourselves more vulnerable,” she explained.

“I came across so many examples of mothers making critical remarks about their daughters’ hair. After all, isn’t it a mother’s prerogative, if not her obligation, to make sure her daughter looks her best?

“But where the mother sees caring, the daughter sees her mother’s scrutiny as confirming her own fears-that she’s flawed.”

Psychologists say there are eight common themes among mother-daughter relationships:

  • Dismissive
  • Controlling
  • Unavailable
  • Enmeshed
  • Combative
  • Unreliable
  • Self-involved
  • Role-reversed

These feelings can cause huge tension in the relationship, which when not properly addressed can do damage beyond repair.

Dr Tannen says mothers can sometimes take a course of action that only acts to irritate her daughter and drive her further away.

“For example, a mother calls her adult daughter to talk about how lonely she is, which makes the daughter feel guilty,” Dr Tannen said.

“The mother thinks that talking about being lonely will encourage her daughter to call more frequently, but it does the opposite. So the mother calls more often, which makes her seem even more intrusive to her daughter, who pulls back further.”

She stresses that daughters are no angels either and can often do things to hurt their mothers without even realising.

She says daughters should take the time to thank their mothers for all the work they did looking after them for so long.

A few kind words can go a long way towards making a mother feel appreciated for effort she made for all those years.

Dr Tannen also encourages mothers and daughters to put a hold on the talking sometimes and go out and do activities together instead.

She says this develops the relationship in a different ways and works to form a strong bond between the pair.

Can you relate to this article? Have you ever had a strained relationship with your mother or daughter?

  1. Takes two to TANGO, and I am on my own with this one…Tried several times, got rejected and now accepted can’t be mended and move on…Life can be having family around that are willing to meet in the middle to work problems out…

  2. Cheryll  

    I agree with Heather I have tried with my daughter we were both in the wrong I have said sorry so many times I have just given up. It does take 2 to Tango and I agree that I said some hurtful things so to get back at me my daughter took my grandkids away I had no contact for 17 year’s and still don’t they have her views and what she told them. I tried contact but was rejected. All of this heartbreak over a man she thought she loved and I believe she did but couldn’t see past him. In the end he did what I said he would and broke her heart even then she never turned to me. But to her father who had nothing to do with her for 10 years plus when she was growing up. So we have no contact at all. It’s very sad.

  3. Lee  

    I have two daughters who don’t want me in their life. I’m still not sure why although with one it was because I wouldn’t ( couldn’t ) commit to an exact date we’d be at her place. Even though we said we’d be there for her birthday. Both my daughters have children I don’t get to see. Now I know what a broken heart is. I’ve offered mediation and learnt that they told others I threatened them with legal action. I can’t defend myself against this. I’ve tried talking. They’re not interested. They now have a loving relationship with their father and his wife. He wasn’t around for them. She never wanted children but has my grandchildren. It’s killing me.

  4. I have 2 daughters and a son. I get on better with my son. I have a lot of problems with my girls as I remarried after their father had died. I have 3 grandsons , love them all dearly, But do not get on with their mother ,my daughter. as once we were baby sitting for a week while my daughter and her husband went on holiday , I got sick finish up in hospital my husband arranged some neighbors to look after the 3 boys as he had to go with me to hospital. My daughters first word when they got back was to her 3 boys . walked straight pass me. I was home from hospital but not allowed to go any where for 2 weeks. Her first words to me was you are not having the boys any more. And we did not speak for 2 years after this. I talk to them on birthdays and Christmas I phone. Now my grandsons are teenagers. I visit with my girls for a couple of hours every 2 years. Would love to have a happy relationship with .not to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *