Mother-daughter relationships are complex and diverse. Some mothers and daughters are best friends. Others talk once a week. Some see each other weekly; others live in different states or countries. Some spar regularly. Some avoid conflict. Others talk through everything. And undoubtedly, there’s a hint of all these things in most relationships.
Whatever your relationship with your mother or daughter, you can always make improvements. Here’s how to enhance your communication and connection and cut down on clashes.
.Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move,Practical Help to Get the Most Out of Your Relationship. Doing so inevitably leaves relationships stuck. “Think about how you feel in the relationship and what you can do to change.”
Many think that the only way to improve a relationship is for the other person to change their ways. But you aren’t chained to their actions; you can change your own reactions and responses, Mintle said. 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.
Have realistic expectations
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,
Lack of communication is a common challenge with moms and daughters. “In some ways they can be so close or feel so close that they believe that each of them should know how the other one feels,” Cohen-Sandler said. “What happens as a result is they don’t communicate.” Or they communicate harshly, in ways they’d never “dare speak to everyone else,” which causes hurt feelings that “don’t go away so easily,” she said.
Because moms and daughters aren’t mind readers, be clear and calmly state how you’re feeling. Also, speak your “mind in a very heartfelt but gentle manner.” Is your mom treating you like a child? Simply say, “Mom, you’re not treating me like an adult.”
Be an active listener.
Active listening is “reflecting back what the other person is saying,” instead of assuming you already know, Cohen-Sandler said. When you reflect back what your mom or daughter is saying, you’re telling her that she’s being heard and that you understand.
Also, listen “to the feelings underlying the message,” which is often the real message, she said. If “mom says, ‘you’re acting like a doormat,’ the daughter hears that as being horribly critical [and that she’s not good enough], but what the mom is really saying is, ‘I feel so protective of you because you’re not protecting yourself.’”
Repair damage quickly.
“One of the key principles in sustaining healthy and satisfying marriages is to repair damage quickly,” Healthy couples don’t avoid conflict. They realize conflict is inevitable and they deal with it head on. This applies to mother and daughter relationships, too.
Not resolving conflict can have surprising consequences. “If you don’t deal with your mom (and dad) by resolving conflict, you’re going to carry those same patterns into your future relationships,” whether that’s with your friends, partner or boss,
“Working it out with your mom,” however, is “the best gift you can give to your daughter,”
But pick your battles. If it’s not that important, “Instead of being in a tug of war, just drop the rope,”
Put yourself in her shoes.
If you’re a daughter, think of your mom as a woman with her “own wounds and hurts,” who was born and raised in a different generation with different values and difficult family relationships and issues,
As such, address your mom or daughter’s feelings with empathy and offer a compromise, Cohen-Sandler suggested. If mom really wants to hang out, instead of saying “Stop asking me, you know I’m busy,” say, “I know how much you want to meet with me, and I wish I could but I can’t do it this week; can we do it next week?
Learn to forgive
Forgiveness is “an individual act,” It differs from reconciliation, which takes both people and isn’t always possible. Forgiving someone isn’t saying that what happened is OK. It’s not condoning, pardoning or minimizing the impact,
Mintle views forgiveness as key for well-being. daughters have to forgive your mom in order to be healthy.” “The power of forgiveness is really for the person who forgives.”
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, Or, quite the opposite, they’re so fused that they’re unable to make decisions without her input,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, “You don’t grow and develop and become your own person void of relationships.”
So how can you strike a balance between staying connected and still being true to yourself? “You can take any position on any powerful issue and hold your own and not become defensive and angry. It’s this balance of connection and separateness,”
Agree to disagree.
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, Moms feel threatened and rejected that their daughters are making different decisions. Daughters think their moms disapprove of them and get defensive.
Realize that there are some topics that you’ll never agree on. And that’s OK, she said. In fact, “it’s really healthy for moms and daughters to have major disagreements.” Also, don’t take “something personally that isn’t personal.”
“The bottom line is that moms and daughters can be really close but they’re not the same people. [They’re] allowed to have different interests, goals and ways of handling things.” A daughter doesn’t have to change her choices to please her mom; and mom doesn’t have to change her opinions, either.
Stick to the present.
Moms and daughters tend to have “an old argument that runs like a broken record in the background,” It becomes their default disagreement. Instead, avoid “bring[ing] up old gripes from the past,” and try to focus on the present.
Use ‘I’ statements, rather than being accusatory,”
You might say “I feel this way [or] this is how that makes me feel.” Similarly, avoid “sarcasm and facetiousness.” It’s easily misinterpreted, causes hurt feelings and takes you further away from resolution.
Talk about how you want to communicate.
Younger women typically don’t want to talk on the phone, said Cohen-Sandler, who often hears daughters complain that their “moms will call at the worst part of the day for them.”
Instead of harshly dismissing your mom (or ignoring her calls), communicate what works best, such as: “If you want to talk on the phone, the best time is in the morning. But if you want to reach me during the day [with something] more urgent, just text me.”
People who regret not trying to repair their relationships with their moms after they’re gone. Even when the relationship is negative or unhealthy, there’s still a powerful bond, 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. Let her know your boundaries and the minute she starts crossing them, say that you’re going to leave. If you’re talking over the phone, “I want to talk to you and keep our relationship going but if you start to call me names or criticize me, I have to hang up the phone because that’s not healthy for me.”
Asserting yourself with your mother or daughter can spill over into other relationships. If you can create and maintain boundaries with her, then you can do this with anyone else, such as your boss or partner,
Don’t bring in third parties.
It’s common for mothers and daughters to bring someone else into their conflict. A daughter might involve dad because mom is driving her crazy. Mom might involve another child because she feels like she can’t talk to her daughter. Either way, talk directly to the person.
Finally, ask yourself if you’re OK with your relationship and your actions.