Some mothers and daughters are best friends. Others talk once a week. Some see each other weekly; others live in different states or countries. Others talk through everything. There also are ups and downs, no matter how positive or prickly the relationship. In her private practice, Roni Cohen-Sandler , Ph. A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict , sees three primary complaints that daughters have about their moms: Moms try to parent them and are overly critical and demanding.
Whatever your relationship with your mother or daughter, you can always make improvements. Make the first move. Doing so inevitably leaves relationships stuck. Many think that the only way to improve a relationship is for the other person to change their ways. Interestingly, this can still alter your relationship. Think of it as a dance, she said. When one person changes their steps, the dance inevitably changes.
Both moms and daughters often have idealistic expectations about their relationship. For instance, kids commonly think their mom will be nurturing and present — always. This idea can develop from an early age. When her kids were young, Mintle found herself setting up this unrealistic belief during their nightly reading time. Lack of communication is a common challenge with moms and daughters.
Be an active listener. They realize conflict is inevitable and they deal with it head on. This applies to mother and daughter relationships, too, she said.
Not resolving conflict can have surprising consequences. But pick your battles. Instead of arguing about something so small, Mintle put the hat on and moved on. Put yourself in her shoes. But a panoramic lens provides a much wider view, letting us see the object in a larger context.
Mintle views forgiveness as key for well-being. 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, Mintle said. Both are clearly problematic. But daughters can find their voices and identities within the relationship.
We learn how to deal with conflict and negative emotions through our families, Mintle said. Mintle and her mom had a positive relationship but sometimes struggled with this balance. When Mintle was a well-established professional in her 30s, her mom would still tell her what to do.
Then, she realized that she had to talk to her mom in a different way. The next night her mom said the same thing, Mintle used humor: Moms and daughters disagree on many topics, such as marriage, parenting and career, and they usually try to convince the other to change those opinions, Cohen-Sandler said.
Moms feel threatened and rejected that their daughters are making different decisions. Daughters think their moms disapprove of them and get defensive. Stick to the present. It becomes their default disagreement. Talk about how you want to communicate. But if you want to reach me during the day [with something] more urgent, just text me. One way to ease into reconnecting with your mom or daughter is by setting clear-cut boundaries. Boundaries are key for any healthy relationship.
For instance, when visiting your mom or daughter for the holidays, stay at a hotel. If you can create and maintain boundaries with her, then you can do this with anyone else, such as your boss or partner, Mintle said.
A daughter might involve dad because mom is driving her crazy. Either way, talk directly to the person. She blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her own blog, Weightless , and about creativity on her second blog Make a Mess.
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