From Dr. Jane's Notebook

On Mothers and Daughters

I was recently invited to give a talk on Mother-Daughter relationships. As both a mother and a daughter myself, I am blessed with the good fortune of enjoying both of these relationships in my personal life. As a family therapist, I can well appreciate the importance of this relationship in the lives of other women. But relationships between mothers and daughter are not always easy. Here are a few reasons why:

When our daughters are different from us, it may be necessary to let go of pre-existing expectations in order to get to know the child we have... in order to see her as she really is, as a person in her own right.

For younger daughters, life may be easier and less burdensome. But with less responsibility, younger daughters often experience a lack of attention. Many have described a feeling of being raised by their sisters instead of by their mothers.

Daughters have high expectations for mothers and often base their self-esteem and sense of self-worth on Mom's perception of herself. If daughters feel their mother's lack of confidence, it may weaken their own sense of self-confidence.

Mothers watch their daughters with high hopes that daughters will overcome any difficulties they themselves experienced and hope that their daughters will be more successful. They also hope that they will be able to follow-through with creating a next generation... grandchildren... survival of the species and family traditions.

Sometimes, when it is difficult to let go, a little conflict helps to create the emotional distance necessary to let go. For this reason, mothers and daughters often find themselves in disagreement or conflict just before saying good-bye. At some level, it makes the separation possible.

When damaged, Mother-daughter relationships can be repaired through listening and flexibility. Both need each other's support and encouragement... courage... as we all fight our individual battles to survive well and be safe, to be healthy and happy in our lives, and to feel fulfilled as women.

ęCopyright, 1993, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated October 17, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.