Simple Rules for a Better Mother-Daughter Relationship
No doubt, mothers and daughters have a unique connection
It starts out nurturing and playful when they are children, travels through ignorance and stubbornness, and winds down to respect and admiration. How can that journey become a more joyful experience when we are both grown? Follow these 6 (simple?) rules for a better, more fulfilling mother-daughter relationship.
1. Tensions between two women, in general, can be stressful.
But between a mother and daughter it can be suffocating. Communication is the key.
Listen, talk, then listen some more. Ask questions. Don't judge.
Unravel the tension by being encouraging, accepting and offering unconditional love instead of offering advice. How? For mothers - step into your daughter's shoes. What pressures is she under? For daughters - see you mother as another woman. What experiences brought her to where she is? See your mother as another woman.
2. Mothers - look at your daughter as a woman who has goals, intentions, and expectations.
Daughters - see your mom as a woman who can share valuable guidance based on her journey. The secret is all about how you approach your mother. Do you come with anger, disappointment and conflict? Or do you begin with patience, confidence and wanting to be closer?
3. Another important ingredient in the mother-daughter relationship is acceptance
When we reach the stage of acceptance with our mothers, the snide remarks, hurtful speeches and constant bickering takes a back seat. Why? As we get older and our need for a closer relationship with our mother increases we realize the futility in playing these games. This is when I realize I really do like my mother.
4. We want things for our daughters just as our mothers did for us
Only it was easier when they where three. Boundaries can be hard for mothers. Just ask my 26 year old daughter!
Our mothers don't want to watch us be hurtful by the 'wrong' man, or the unruly demanding boss, or the disrespectful teenage daughter. So what do they do? They interfere! It's in their nature to protect their young.
You can do more than listen and smile. You can, and should, listen closely to what the message is and from where she speaks! Whether we like it or not, most times our mothers have the wisdom we are just beginning to actualize.
5. Its okay to be separate from our mothers
Two things are central here. One, daughters have the right to make their own mistakes. Two, daughters want their mother's approval - no matter how old they are. Mothers- give your daughters approval early in their life. They will grow into the independent, enthusiastic woman you can be proud of.
Don't waste time living up to your mother's expectations (unless they match yours) that it makes you unsure of what you want.
6. The greatest gift between a mother and her daughter is honesty
Yes, I know easier said than done. Honesty must start with you. Are you holding grudges that get in your way? Was your mother right about whatever, but you didn't tell her? Do an honest self appraisal about your role in the relationship.
Talk about the feelings you experience in the here and now. For example, if your mother says something that hurts you, tell her. Say, "Gee, mom, that made me feel sad." Open yourself up to forging a new branch of your relationships. Sometimes, mothers don't know their words are hurtful or cause anger.
When we as daughters have a better sense of ourselves, we learn to be more empathetic in seeing our mother's worth as a woman. And this, my friends, is how I wish my daughters, Beth and Megan, to see me someday.
On this Mother's Day, I hope you appreciate the power and importance you have in the relationship with your mother.
Regent University professor, Dr. Linda Mintle, tells us there is no doubt that the mother/daughter bond is a powerful one. It shapes our lives forever and takes us into the future with clear ideas about love, family and connections. Dr. Mintle says, "It is also loaded with the potential to annoy or enrich us." I choose to let it enrich me.
Dr. Mintle believes women can have a meaningful adult relationship with their mothers. She believes that this relationship forms and shapes every other relationship in a woman's life because the mother-daughter bond is such a close one. It's a bond that grows not from forgiving and forgetting the past but a bond that grows from making peace and finding a meaningful connection with your mom. This is what influences how rich our other relationships will be.
A woman's hope is that once she is aware of the influencing factors of her mother-daughter relationship, she can start to change those things that need to be changed in her. This can be tough especially when both women are strong women with thoughts and ideas of their own.
Dr. Mintle shares tips on how to improve contentious mother-daughter relationships:
1. It's not a numbers game. In other words, don't try to be right by getting others on your side. Decide how you feel independently of anyone else.
2. Change because you see the merits of change. Don't change because someone thinks you should or is pressuring you to change.
3. Be prepared for your mother's reaction. She may object to changes in the relationship. That doesn't mean you're wrong to make the change.
4. Keep your time together limited and focused - at least in the beginning.
5. Write out your thoughts. Tell them out loud to the chair. Practice putting your thoughts together so they will flow when you need to share.
Dr. Mintle reminds us that our relationship with our mother can be one of intimacy and closeness. Love opens up possibilities. And it's because of love that we can make the journey home again.
"The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." William Ross Wallace
Karen Keller, Ph.D. is an expert in women's leadership and assertiveness training. She specializes in the skills of influence and persuasion, executive coaching, mentoring, sales techniques, management development training, personal life coaching, and corporate training. Discover the Real POWER for Women (& men, too) now!