Resolving mother-daughter conflicts

Written by    Last updated: June 26, 2007

When you were a little girl, she was a goddess and then during your teenage years, somewhat of an embarrassment, but as you settle into married life and contemplate children of your own, you have the opportunity to make your mother your best friend.

mother daughter relations

In the complex world of emotions, love can often be expressed through anger and irritation, leading to an ambivalent relationship ‐ sometimes you’re very close, while at other times arguing or not talking with one another.

Try to understand that while girls look to their mothers as role models as they grow up, many mothers do not have sufficient self esteem or confidence to fulfil this role as well as they could. Thus from early adolescence you can get an ambivalent relationship developing. Break the habit by making a conscious decision of not allowing yourself to fall into the pattern of negative bonding. Here are some common issues and how to resolve them:

Feeling angry

You feel close to her, yet you can’t help your outbursts which leads to her feeling hurt and you feeling guilty.

Resolution   Acknowledge that all good relationships have their stormy moments.
Your mother is the closest person to you and when things don’t run as planned, can take it out on her.  For serious long‐standing issues, join a women’s group or look into attending family therapy.

Blaming her

You hold your mother responsible for a variety of things that happened to you during your childhood and this prevents you both from sharing a close relationship.

Resolution   Understand that all relationships have downsides. Make an attempt to understand the life circumstances, challenges and choices that were made available to your mother.  Finding it in your heart to forgive her will allow you to move on and also prevent any negative feelings from spilling over into other areas and relationships in your life.

Control issues

Your mother treats you as though you are still a child and now that you don’t live with her, she either tries to constantly tell you what to do or is critical of your way of doing things.

Resolution   Understand that your mother finds it difficult to accept that her little girl has grown up and in accepting you as an adult.  Usually underlying issues of control in relationships is a sense of insecurity.  Rather than getting upset or resentful, try discussing how this makes you feel. Reassure her by telling her how much you love her and ask for permission to be yourself. Do call her now and then to ask her advice on something, even if it’s just how to cook a dish the way she does it.

Things you can do for your Mum

  • Shop   Going on shopping trips can be fun and something the two of you can enjoy together. Set out with a plan to buy something specific and take a break to have lunch or coffee.
  • Get pampered   Make a booking to have a massage and a facial together or organise to go away for a weekend spa together.
  • Talk regularly   Discuss things with your mum, especially about areas where she can help. She will feel more valued by you, and is sure to feel happy that you turn to her.
  • New traditions   Start a mother‐daughter tradition and promise to keep it alive every year. This could be something as simple as updating family photo albums at Christmas or dinner at a favourite restaurant on Mother’s Day.
  • Gifts   Buy regular, small, inexpensive gifts and give them to her at completely random times; anything from flowers and chocolate to scented soap.

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