If You Met My Mother, You Would Understand
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
Mother-daughter relationships are complicated. Some mothers and daughters are BFFs while others talk occasionally. Some see each other weekly; others live in different states or countries. Some argue regularly while some avoid arguments. Others talk through everything. The possible combinations are endless.
There are ups and downs, no matter how positive or difficult the relationship.
Whatever your relationship with your mother or daughter, you can always make improvements. Plus I heard it said...by the time a woman realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she's wrong.
Here are 15 steps that just might decrease the wait time.
15 Steps to Strengthening Mother-Daughter Relationships:
1. Make the first move.
Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. Doing so leaves relationships stuck.
2. Change yourself.
You might think the only way to improve a relationship is for the other person to change. But you aren’t chained to their actions; you can change your own reactions and responses. This will alter your relationship. Think of it as a dance, when one person changes their steps, the dance changes.
Lack of communication is a common challenge with moms and daughters. Some mothers and daughters can be so close that they believe that each should know how the other one feels. When communication is harsh, and mothers or daughters say things that they would never dare say to everyone else hurt feelings are usually the result. Because moms and daughters aren’t mind readers, it is important that both be clear and calm when stating feelings. Being able to speak your mind is the ultimate goal but doing so with a gentle touch will result in a successful interaction.
4. Be an active listener.
Active listening is vital for connections. The importance of reflecting back what the other person is saying rather than assuming you already know, will benefit the relationship greatly. When you reflect back what your mom or daughter is saying, you’re telling her that she’s being heard and that you understand. Also, don’t forget to listen to the feelings in the underlying the message, which is often the real message.
5. Repair damage quickly.
Healthy relationships don’t avoid conflict. Conflict is inevitable in mother and daughter relationships. Not resolving conflict can have unwanted consequences. If you don’t deal with your mom (and dad) by resolving conflict, you’re going to carry those same patterns into your future relationships. Learning how to work it out is the best gift you can give yourself. But pick your battles. If it’s not that important, just drop it.
6. Put yourself in her shoes.
If you’re a daughter, think of your mom as a woman with her own struggles and feelings, who was raised in a different generation with different values, relationships and issues. Address your mom or daughter’s feelings with empathy and be willing to offer a compromise.
7. Learn to forgive.
Forgiveness is a process. It differs from reconciliation, which takes both people and isn’t always possible. Forgiving someone isn’t saying that what happened is OK. It’s not condoning, pardoning or minimizing the impact but it is a choice which is vital for the relationship to mend.
8. Balance individuality and closeness.
It can be challenging for daughters to build their own identities. Sometimes daughters think that in order to become their own person, they must cut off from their moms. Or, quite the opposite, they’re so fused that they’re unable to make decisions without her input. Both are clearly problematic. We learn how to deal with conflict and negative emotions through our families. Striking a balance between staying connected and being true to yourself is the key. Take a position on powerful issues and hold your own but don’t become defensive and angry. This will be the balance of connection and separateness.
9. Agree to disagree.
Moms and daughters disagree on many topics. Moms feel threatened and rejected that their daughters make different decisions. Daughters think their moms disapprove of them and get defensive. It’s a fact that some topics you’ll never agree on and that’s OK. It’s really healthy for moms and daughters to have disagreements. It’s important to not take some things so personally when it’s not supposed to be personal. The bottom line is that moms and daughters are allowed to have different interests, goals and ways of handling things. A daughter doesn’t have to change her choices to please her mom; and mom doesn’t have to change her opinions, either.
10. Stick to the present.
Avoid using old arguments from the past to prove your point. Try focusing on the present where there is the ability to change and adjust.
11. Use ‘I’ statements.
You might say “I feel this way [or] this is how that makes me feel.” Avoid using sarcasm it is easily misinterpreted and causes hurt feelings. This will push you further away from the connection you seek.
12. Talk about how you want to communicate.
Younger women typically don’t want to talk on the phone. Instead of harshly dismissing your mom (or ignoring her calls), communicate what works best.
13. Set boundaries.
Even when the relationship is negative or unhealthy, there’s still a powerful bond. One way to ease into reconnecting is by setting clear-cut boundaries. Good news, asserting yourself will benefit your other relationships, too. If you can create and maintain boundaries in this relationship, you can do it with anyone.
15. Don’t bring in third parties.
It’s common to bring other people into a conflict. This might involve the other parent, a grandparent or another child. Either way, talk directly to the person don’t involve other people into your struggle.
Interested in booking a session with Julie Galloway, LPC-RPT for additional help and information call (337)-258-5199.