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For mothers...

The primary focus of this website is on the adult daughter's perspective of the mother-daughter relationship, but there is certainly a lot of overlap...every mother is/was a daughter and many daughters are also mothers. We have found that a helpful strategy in trying to heal the mother-daughter relationship is to try to see things from the other's perspective and to try to understand their feelings, motivations and viewpoint. That's why mothers often find the articles, videos and resources on this site to be helpful too. But this section is specifically For Mothers:

For those mothers with teens, visit Moms & Teen Girls Page for strategies

Moms without Mothers


An Excerpt from:
Too Close for Comfort?  Questioning the Intimacy of Today's New Mother-Daughter Relationship

By Linda Perlman Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer, Oprah.com

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want,
and then advise them to do it. 
~ Harry Truman


We believe mothers and their adult daughters can't be best friends, but they can develop a gratifying relationship.  Turbulence happens when a mother can't accept her daughter as an adult.  The basic question for mothers is:  Do you trust your daughter to be an independent and self-sufficient woman?  And can you support her in making choices and doing things differently from how you would do them?  Control is elusive, even when your daughter is younger, and it certainly is less appropriate when she is an adult.  One of the most important messages you can give to your daughter is your permission to let her be herself, and as she becomes an adult, you should expect that same acceptance from her.


We want to avoid some of the dysfunctional patterns that may have occurred when our daughters were younger.  What we say to our daughter as an adult, she may still hear with the ears of her younger self.  We have to be more cautious with adult daughters, because we want them to hear us with their adult selves.  According to Jane Isay, author of Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents, parents should "keep their mouths shut and their doors open."


All of us have to accept at this point in our child's development that we did the best we could, and we should not focus our attention on "what could have been," or be filled with regrets.  Instead, we have to keep our focus on what's really important:  maintaining a good relationship.  We want to establish elements of a friendship, intimacy, mutual respect, respectful interdependence, and sharing the good and bad times, understanding that our primary role is that of mother, and not best friend.  No one else can occupy that space.  This should be payoff time, when you are still healthy and vital, and she is, finally, an adult.


Study Finds Link to Success of Adult Children and Parents' Happiness

Building the Mother-Daughter Connection
By Barbara Katz


Have you ever asked yourself...Why do I have to walk on egg shells around my daughter?  Why does my daughter feel criticized when I'm just trying to help?  How can my daughter say I don't understand her?  Why must I bite my tongue when I see how she parents her children?  These are but a few of the questions I encounter when I coach women who wish to be closer to their adult daughters, but can't seem to get it right!


Many mothers struggle when communicating with adult family members, but no interaction is as delicate as that with their daughters.  Well into their adulthood, we feel the need to provide and protect our children, as we did when they were little. We want to spare them any pain and steer them in the right direction.  We have great wisdom to offer and want to justify our wish to participate in their lives.  We tell ourselves that since we've been around the block a few times, we are more aware of those dangerous pitfalls.  Besides, who can know and love a child better than a mother?
In spite of our good intentions, nothing can sabotage a mother-daughter relationship faster than a mother whose communication is perceived as critical and controlling.  While we mean no harm, our comments can whisk an adult child to earlier decades where the thought of clinging to our apron strings makes them recoil.  Our adult daughters want to show us that they can make wise choices and lead their own lives, even at the risk of making a mistake.  They want us to be proud of them and acknowledge their competence.


So where do our good intentions fall off track?  Communication is complex.  On the surface we hear the words and yet underneath they convey multiple messages.  A suggestion such as "Wouldn't you like to try my hairdresser? She gives a really good hair cut!" can simply be taken as a kind gesture.  Or it can also kick off a wave of bad feelings, perceived criticism and disappointment.  Every communication is sent with a given intention, but it may be received at the other end with another set of interpretations depending upon who we are, our needs and history.
Here are five communication tips I use when coaching my clients:

  1. Think of your statement as double pronged.  There are the words verbatim versus the larger picture...those feelings we attach to those words.  The unspoken feelings are usually the ones that cause the emotionally charged exchanges. 
  2. Take the conversation deeper to reach those underlying issues.  Build a connection to your daughter by clarifying each other's perspective and address any misleading "tone." 
  3. Learn the art of offering a sincere apology and acquire the ability to receive one.
  4. Some daughters are particularly reliant upon your opinion and will be super sensitive to your remarks.  Trust that you did a good enough job raising your daughter and that she can carry forward!
  5. Remember, our daughters, like us, need love and acceptance far more than they need advice. 

Families are our safety nets.  In them we seek comfort from the very people who potentially wield the most influence over us.  Respect the power of this relationship.  Explore better ways to communicate and seek professional help if you get stuck.  It is well worth the effort, because nothing can be more satisfying or begin to replace a strong mother-daughter relationship.


For over 20 years, Barbara Katz has been committed to helping individuals (particularly women) and couples create the lives they want and deserve - initially as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and now as a Certified Retirement Coach. In this new venture she is able to bring her extensive experience, intuition and education to provide her clients with the coaching and planning that will help them achieve a new level of fulfillment and purposeful living as they enter their "golden years." For more information on how to improve and maximize your retirement lifestyle go to


Article Source: www.EzineArticles.com

Improving the Mother-Daughter Relationship


Book Excerpt:


For many, motherhood is one of life's greatest joys, but getting along with your children, particularly daughters, isn't always a piece of cake. In “Side by Side: The Revolutionary Mother-Daughter Program for Conflict-Free Communication,” author Dr. Charles Sophy examines this family dynamic and how moms and daughters can have an open, loving relationship:




With all due respect, I often compare the mother-daughter relationship to being on a roller coaster, the big, scary kind that you’re able to see from the next town over and whose passengers can be heard shrieking from miles away. Parts of that ride can certainly be thrilling and crazy fun, much like the way you may feel when you and your daughter are really getting along. There may be other stretches of that same ride that leave you feeling anxious, fearful, or nauseated — much like the way you may feel when you and your daughter are in the midst of an argument. There’s one big difference, though, between these two rides. Unlike the experience at the amusement park, the ride you are on with your daughter will never come to a halt, automatically release its safety bar, and allow you to exit. No matter how scary or intolerable the ride may get with your daughter, there’s not even a chance of getting off. This ride is forever. And there is no safety bar. The truth is, most moms don’t really want to get off this ride. They’d just prefer a slower, smoother, more predictable journey, a ride with fewer upside-down loops or steep, heart-stopping drops — one that doesn’t include, for example, your fifteen-year-old getting pregnant or your thirty-year-old becoming addicted to drugs. Nobody wants that ride. But it’s a given that every mother-daughter pair faces challenges, and it’s inevitable that at some point, there will be a challenge that will test the strength of this relationship and the ride will change.


Variables like genetics, personality, socioeconomic status, and family history will certainly inform the way moms approach these issues, how heated these potential conflicts become, and of course how they’re resolved. However, aside from these variables, there is one significant factor that will give you and your daughter the best chance of negotiating these inevitable issues while maintaining an overall healthy and loving relationship: communication that is respectful and honest. This will not only ensure a safer ride, but will strengthen the bond between you and your daughter. This is our goal.


All mothers and daughters want the same things: love, understanding, respect. And they want them from each other. Mom wants love, respect, and understanding from the child she brought into the world. And daughter wants the same from the woman who gave her life. Many moms seek professional guidance because their daughter is acting out in some way — such as getting a tattoo, dressing inappropriately, or dating someone the rest of the family deems undesirable. The specific behaviors may be age related, but they are simply the manifestation of the underlying desire to be understood, respected, and loved. The only real way that the mother-daughter relationship can evolve in a healthy, loving, and sustainable way is to satisfy these needs. And it boils down to communication, which is something that mothers and daughters are doing constantly, just not as effectively as they could.


The fact that mothers and daughters often struggle is certainly not a novel premise; a vast number of books and periodicals have been written on the topic, all in an effort to comprehend this potentially volatile dynamic. But none of them have offered the straightforward approach found in this book. The truth is, there is something you, the mother, can do to improve your relationship with your daughter. You have a chance, a really good one, to make it better. A lot better.


Read more - Page 2

Buy Side by Side: The Revolutionary Mother-Daughter Program for Conflict-Free Communication

Jealous of Your Child
By Lisa Belkin, The New York Times, Motherload - Adventures in Parenting


Over on Slate yesterday, a reader wrote to the Dear Prudence column, looking for advice.  She asked, in part: 

I am the mother of a tall, shapely, stunning, 17-year-old daughter … I have worked to help her be strong, secure, and happy with herself, and she definitely is (more than I was at her age and even now).  So what’s the problem?  Me.  Every time I look at my daughter, it hurts my self-esteem.  I know that’s stupid and irrational.  I’m happy that she is such an amazing creature, and I absolutely adore her and am proud of her.  I look pretty good for my age, but I’m almost 50.

                                                             Signed Supergirl’s Mom

Prudence (aka writer Emily Joffe) answered, in part:

In the initial telling of the Brothers Grimm story Snow White — about the young girl whose stepmother ordered her killed because she had replaced the older woman as the fairest in the land — the stepmother was actually her mother.  I mention this not because your feelings are despicable but because they are archetypal.

I have two sons, and the thought has occurred more than once over the years that this means I will not come face to face with a younger version of myself.  That, in turn, means I will not grapple with much of the baggage — regret, envy, pride, loss — that living with a dewy doppelganger can bring.  But earlier this week, while tagging along to “accepted student days” with my almost-college-freshman, I had a small taste of the complex dynamic I thought I’d dodged.


As I watched administrators parade choices before him — Study abroad!  Research the genome!  Use your dining points to order pizza! — and stayed out of his way while he met those who might become his lifelong friends, it took me awhile to identify my unexpected emotion.  Excitement for him?  Yes.  Sadness at his pending departure?  Yes.


But what was that other ingredient, flitting around the edges, coloring everything?


Ah yes.  I was jealous.


Read rest of article

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Mother-Daughter Communication

You're Wearing That? by Deborah Tannen provides insight into the ways that mothers and daughters speak to each other.

here to watch videos and read articles to learn strategies for better communication.

More "For Mothers" Articles

  • Why Don't I Like My Own Child?: How could a mother "never like" her child? That is the question asked in this controversial Redbook Magazine article. Read the article and watch a Today Show interview with the author, the editor of Redbook and a psychologist.