Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships
Originally posted on Saturday, May 13, 2006
A few months ago, ABC’s 20/20 featured a show titled, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships. It discussed the most complex female relationship.Here’s an excerpt:
Mothers and daughters have a special bond with all its complex emotions – anger, resentment, competition and of course, love. But every son will also hear echoes of his own life with mother.
Mothers and daughters – sometimes they’re enemies, sometimes best friends.
You love her, sometimes you hate her. Sometimes she’s the last person you want to see. But she’s the first one you call for advice. That is the seesaw of feelings between mothers and daughters.
I think every daughter can relate to this.
I’d like to think that I have a good relationship with my mother now. But it hasn’t been always like that.
I remember being labeled a Papa’s girl when I was growing up. I’m not really sure how it started. And by the way, my sister, who always wanted to contradict me back then, was a self-proclaimed Mama’s girl. So you see, the complication started early on. But as far as I’m concerned, I loved both my parents equally. And I’m sure that each one of them loved both me and sister just the same.
And then my parents separated. I can’t really understand why I became loyal to my father even though I chose to stay with my mother. I think my mother resented that because my father was abusive to her. But he was my father and nothing could change my love for him.
I experienced that seesaw of feelings with my mother. One minute I was telling her everything that was happening in my life, and the next minute, I was sneaking out and hiding the truth.
My father has long been gone and my mother and I get along pretty well now. I confide in her and run to her when I have problems. We see each other at least once a week. We go to mass together, that’s because my family doesn’t have a vehicle and she gives us a ride to church. And she insists. She wants to make sure that we go to church every Sunday.
Sometimes she would volunteer to give me a ride to the grocery store. But I have learned that my closeness to my mother should have boundaries. I know she meant well when she didn’t want me to buy those tomatoes because they were so expensive. And my “But Ma, I need these tomatoes for the dish I’m making” isn’t acceptable to her. When she asked me how much those Asian pears and guavas were, I just ignored her because I didn’t want to argue with her. When she asked me to call her the next time I do my groceries and give her the taxi fare instead, I almost did because I knew that she could use the extra money especially now that gas prices are skyrocketing. But thanks, no thanks. And no offense please Ma. I’d rather do the groceries myself.
Here’s some more excerpt from that 20/20 show, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships:
Deborah Tannen, author of the best-selling “You’re Wearing That?” explains why mother and daughter relationship is so complicated. She says, “Mothers and daughters talk more, talk about more personal topics. That means they may be closer but they also risk offending each other much more.”
There are four flashpoints in the mother and daughter relationship:
1. Appearance – Clothes, weight, hair. Women are judged by how they look and mothers are judged by how their daughters look.
2. Control – Mother sees daughter as a little girl.
3. (Motherly) Advice – Everytime mothers offer advice or suggestion for improvement, there’s an implied criticism. Mother sees it as caring. Daughter sees it as criticizing. If mothers can’t learn how to bite their tongue, daughters need to learn to use humour to diffuse tension.
4. Secrets – Daughters keep secrets from mom if they sense disapproval. Withholding information is a daughter’s way to gain power.
Tannen says that there is no magic formula to the perfect mother-daughter bond. But there are ways to make it work.
1. Bite your tongue.
2. Use humour.
3. See it from their point of view
4. Use praise. It’s also a form of power.
Read more at ABC News Love Her or Hate Her- She’s Still Your Mom.
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