Fixing the Mother-Daughter Relationship

(Watch video below and then read article that follows)

‘I’m Not Your Little Baby!’  Calling a Truce in Mother-Daughter Conflict
By Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal Online

Jessica Setnick was on her way to her mother’s house for dinner when she decided that she had something to say that couldn’t wait.

She sent her mom a text: “I got my hair cut today and I think it looks fine.  So if you don’t like it, please don’t say anything.”

Ms. Setnick, a 39-year-old registered dietitian in Dallas, says she frequently braces herself for her mother’s disapproving remarks.  Such as, “Now that your husband has been laid off, you will need to stop eating out so much.” Or, “The green napkins would look much better on the table.”  Or, “Why did you buy so many ears of corn?”

Ms. Setnick says she finds these comments condescending and often feels hurt by them.  They lead to arguments.  “It’s as if she feels she knows what’s best for me,” says Ms. Setnick. “She doesn’t see me as my own person.”

Ms. Setnick’s mother views things differently.  “I never see my comments as criticism,” says Sandra Zucker, 70, a college librarian.  “I see them as a helpful suggestion.”

It’s common for mother-daughter relations to be stormy in the daughter’s teen years.  But why do mothers and daughters continue to push each other’s buttons well into adulthood?

Some moms never stop nudging.  It was their job for many years, after all.  Although it is usually well-intentioned, it also is a way for them to get attention from their adult daughters.  When daughters won’t listen, mothers feel powerless—and then nudge even more.

“More often than not, the criticism is, ‘I miss you and want you to call me more,’ ” says Lisa Brateman, a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist in Manhattan.  “But mothers can’t say that, because they’ve had that fight before.  So they say, ‘Your lipstick looks bad.’ ”  Dr. Brateman offers psychotherapy for mothers and daughters together that is much like couples therapy.

Daughters, meanwhile, tend to be very sensitive to mom’s input.  They think she is being rude or doesn’t respect them as an adult.  Underneath, they fear they’ve failed the one person they have been seeking approval from since before they could speak…

Read rest of article (including tips for keeping the peace)