Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships

May 15, 2006 at 11:37 pm 38 comments

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.


Entry filed under: Roadblocks.

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38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. niceheart  |  May 15, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    These are the 13 comments from the original entry on Blogspot:

    Ann said…
    The heart of a mom, knows no boundaries…
    No limits..Just endless love and care!
    Happy mother's Day!

    5/13/2006 11:15:32 PM

    noemi said…
    My daughters and I have that "love-hate" relationship. We might not agree on a lot of things btu we know at the end of the day, we love each other

    5/14/2006 01:03:52 AM

    Mmy-Lei said…
    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.

    This is so true. I was the least favorite daughter of my mom since my sisters tag me as daddy's girl. Although i really could feel my mom's rejection, i still love her no matter what.

    Happy Mother's Day to you!

    5/14/2006 02:50:16 AM

    bing said…
    Kay and I used to be enemies, and i say enemies. she is a stubborn kid, she always wants her way out. but for now, i can say that we have an open relationship. she had developed trust and confidence towards me and i am very, very glad about it. although it is obvious that she is very fond of her father, i like the way she is now better when she was a difficult child before.

    i hope we will be friends til i grow old and til she finds herself to be a mother, too.

    btw, i am also a papa's girl.

    5/14/2006 04:20:12 AM

    myepinoy said…
    Happy Mother's Day!. God Bless you.

    5/14/2006 09:32:40 AM

    jairam said…
    happy mothers' day! god bless you 🙂

    5/14/2006 06:22:19 PM

    Joy said…
    I like your post today. So true.

    Happy Mother's Day!
    Hope you had a great one.

    5/14/2006 08:45:41 PM

    niceheart said…
    Thanks for the greetings everyone. And Happy Mother's Day also to all of you.

    5/14/2006 10:16:29 PM

    Hsin said…
    My sister and I have a great relationship with my mom and I hope I can have that with Sara and any other daughter I may have. I realize looking at friends that what my mom and I have is quite rare and I'm grateful for it. She's one of my best friends.

    5/15/2006 02:20:30 AM

    domestic rat said…
    Those four flashpoints are so true! I remember the time when it became fashionable to wear camisoles on the outside, paired off with jeans. Mom saw me in one and went,' That's too revealing' and instantly dug out a tee for me to don. Needless to say, I went out wearing that grubby over-sized tee but leaving a mother beaming with approval. I can't say I love my mother the way some daughters do but I know that I won't want anything bad to happen to her. Is that considered love?

    5/15/2006 07:16:42 AM

    Toe said…
    I notice that all the things I didn't like about my Mom when I was a kid… I'm exactly the same way now that I'm older. 🙂 How ironic! Happy Mother's Day Niceheart!

    5/15/2006 08:24:46 AM

    niceheart said…
    Hsin, I think it's great if moms and daughters can be bestfriends.

    DR, I think that's considered love.

    Toe, do you also find yourself saying, "I've become my mother?" 🙂

    5/15/2006 08:45:26 PM

    Sidney said…
    Happy Mother's Day !

    5/15/2006 09:44:08 PM

  • 2. PhilippinePhil  |  May 28, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Mom’s always have the advantage I think. After all, she carries us around for 9 tormentous months. If a kid ever owes any parent anything, its to mom!

    All this mother-daughter stuff is as mysterious to me as anything that has to do with the fairer sex. I think I will never understand women. Do I need to?

  • 3. niceheart  |  May 28, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    Perhaps you’ll never understand women as much as I won’t be able to understand men. But I think we should at least try.

  • 4. dee  |  October 10, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    MY love for my daughters does not end but the behavior of my youngest is putting a strain on my relationship with my hubby. She is living with a guy. He does not approve. He does not understand what his actions are doing to my relationship with her. He wants her to dump the guy and move out and it has made my life a hell but he loves her and so do I. I am handling it differently though.

    I send her messages and call her and reinforce the fact that I love her no matter what.

    So I do get this mother daughter thing. I do not always understand it. I guess I never will. Who understands unconditional love anyway?

  • 5. niceheart  |  October 11, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Dee,

    I’m sorry to hear about your problems with your daughter. Mother-daughter relationships can be really complicated and no matter what, we do love each other unconditionally.

  • 6. Dee in Md.  |  December 31, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    Big stinkin’ deal to the whole thing!!!!

  • 7. Mother in Ohio  |  August 3, 2007 at 6:44 am

    I have a divorced daughter that has a 12 year old daughter who also is a daddys girl and outspokened just like her mother. Her mother is in a permenant relationship with a man that has two younger children, [a boy and a girl], I can see the way she treats his children, with more love and patience, than she treats her own, and so does her daughter.who confides to me. When I try to talk to my duaghter, she becomes furious and refuses to speak to me for a few weeks, until I call her or she needs something. I can see where this relationship is going and I dont want it to end up like ours. I’ ve allways told her, that someday, she’ll have a daughter just like her, thats one statement I wish never came true.

  • 8. Casey  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    i’m using this as a resource in my psychology essay. it’s helped a lot, and my mom and i have learned more about each other in the past hour than i thought possible. thank you for posting this. it’s helped more than you’ll know.

  • 9. lacy  |  April 12, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Okay…I love my mother but she tends to always say im nothing like her or her side of the family and i look nothing like her. i look like my father which is great i suppose but she also says i look and act like my fathers mother my (grandma) but the problem with that is my fathers mom gave him up when he was 8 and has shunned anything to do with him. meaning his family that he made so strong. But we have always had a wonderful relationship together but when she says im not even apart of her like im nothing it hurts because i am her daughter i wasnt adopted she gave birth to me. so why is she treating me as if im nothing?

  • 10. Jordan  |  May 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    get over it you stupid bitched

  • 11. marcys  |  May 21, 2008 at 9:14 am

    My mother was the very LAST person I’d ever go to for advice. Other than that, though, I agree with most of what’s said above. It’s a great big mystery to me, but I’m trying to unravel it with my memoir on mother/daughterhood.

    niceheart, I vote that you delete ignorant nasty quotes like the one from Jordan above mine. I don’t let idiots insult me on my own blog.

  • 12. Susan Call  |  June 17, 2008 at 12:06 am

    You all may be interested to note that there is actually an organization created just for mothers and daughters called Legacy Clubs. My daughter and I are members and have created our own local club. It is a great way to strengthen your relationship. You can learn more at

  • 13. marcys  |  June 17, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    The Legacy Club is, and I quote, “for conservative women” who want “to pass on their conservative values.” Caveat emptor.

  • 14. Janie  |  July 26, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    My mother was/is a very selfcentered. She repeatedly told my sister and I how she never wanted kids. Frankly, I can’t remember the last time I went to her for advice. I don’t think all women are designed to be mother’s. However my experience helped me to be the mother I am to my own daughter. It’s a relationship that I’m very proud of. Thank God for second chances. I don’t try to figure out what went wrong with my own mother. It is what it is.

  • 15. Karla  |  January 8, 2009 at 3:05 am

    My mom and I don’t have a relationship at all. Somedays i believe that she doesn’t like me as her daughter, that she wish that she had a other daughter.

    • 16. shanetta  |  September 5, 2009 at 1:28 am

      Me and my daughter have a want to be close relationship, if that make sense. i had her when i was only 18 and from day one there’s been a power struggle. i want to trust her but she lies. i have to be the bad guy and say no and give the speeches. she hates when she’s corrected.she’s only 11. what is going to happen at 16? i want a better relationship with my daughter now but i don’t believe in being buddies with your children ( i do believe in being understanding) how do i get my daughter to understand boundries and be responsible for her own actions without breaking her spirit?

    • 17. shanetta  |  September 5, 2009 at 1:51 am


      i understand how you feel. I had that same feeling about my mother too.what i did was i prayed and i asked God to show me why my mother treat me this way?(you know like a jealous older sister instead of a supporting mother) and he told me to look at my mother’s relationship with her mother. i started to do that and found out that my mother felt unwanted by her mother her whole life. i found that she had been rejected since birth by her mother and that created a lot of hurt.( hurt and rejected people ,hurt and reject people, especially those closest to them) it helped me to understand that while others may be able to give what they always wanted, but never had, some people just can’t give what they never had. forgive her even if she never say i’m sorry. do it for yourself. it will set you free and you will be able to move on and love. If you haven’t already give your life to God(Jesus Christ) who cares for you and who can heal you and mend your brokeness. And pray for your mother and leave her in God’s hands. All things are possible with him. There is hope and you are wanted. God sent women into my life who love me and support me like i’m their own flesh and blood. My mother still hasn’t come full circle yet but i’m able to love her with the love of jesus christ. And although it may still hurt sometime it doesn’t hinder. In all things pray. Be encouraged. your not alone.

  • 18. perissha  |  May 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Me and my mom never got along it was hard but now that my best friend lost her mom I see how inportent it is to love your mom cuz she carried you aroind 4 9months and she birth you.. yea everybody needs a dad but a mom is specail because she carried you around 4 9months and when you hurt she hurts soo I love mom deeply and it will get better 4 you teenage girls.

  • 19. Anonymous  |  September 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Anyone who hasn’t already read the book “The Lost Daughter” by Daralyse Lyons HAS to read it. It speaks so poignantly to this issue!!!

  • 20. Louise  |  September 14, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I am 53 and just divorced living with my mother.
    I had no idea that it would and could be so difficult we have no boundaries.
    I am getting help and hopefully I look forward to a healthier relationship with my mother, whom I adore and equally hate.

  • 21. Eileen  |  May 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I do not have a good relationship with my 19 year old daughter, she is self centered and thinks only of herself, she is an only child, who got everything in life, had a car for her 18th birthday, was put through college for almost 2 year privately until we ran out of money and she had to drop out because she couldnt be bothered to get a part time job and try and help herself. she sold the car a few weeks ago and blew all the money on weekends out, clothes and spending money on her friends, she left us with hugh phone bills to pay and even forged our signatures on our own cheques and cashed them on several occasions, not to mention taking money from my purse. she is her daddy’s pet and he is so quite he doesent get mad with her , she can be very rude and arrogent to me because i am the one that has to chastise her about things, she doesent clean her room and will sleep on the couch in my sitting room more times than in her room, she is not working, drawing social welfare, and blows it every weekend on having a good time, im sick of it, the only time she is nice to me is when she wants to be brought someplace or when she wants something in the shops etc. i dont think she likes me at all, she has been going out since she was 16 and she was allowed, i dont want to live my life like this relationship with my daughter, what can i do, i have a great relationship with her dad (my husband) but he takes her side sometimes and it HURTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 22. jim  |  September 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    how often sould a 40 year old daughter call her mother in one weeks time in normal times

  • 23. sugandh bahl  |  January 4, 2011 at 8:30 am

    mother’s heart knows no boundaries.she just knows how to lovehis/her child.mums are the most beautiful creations of god.

  • 24. B  |  February 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I miss my mom so much, but I know she doesn’t miss me. She recently disowned me for the tenth time. I have no clue as to what I did to trigger this current situation, but in trying to reach her she ignored me and fabricated that all I do is abuse her.
    The advice given to me is, “She’s 74, let it go. Okay, no problem. But, she still needles away at me. Her dismissal of me hurts, especially since other relatives follow her lead….($ and plastic surgery are vital for her to exist.)
    In light of our horrible relationship, I feel like it’s time to put the relationship to rest.
    It kills me, because now I’m a mom and could never imagine ever telling my daughter to get out of my life.

  • 25. tracey rose  |  May 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    My mother & i were best friends ALWAYS, as far back as i could remember. The day i was born & opened my eyes…there she was …. This EXTRODINARY
    WOMAN, i called “MOM”. My mom just passed away on April 23,2011 at the young age of 78. I’m 48 years old & trying to learn how to start living my life WITHOUT my mom. It’s not easy. I cry all day & night, wishing i had just ONE MORE day with my mom. She was my Best Friend, my Hero, my Strenght, my Laughter, my Smile, my AIR, my LIFE. I am so lost without her & missing her more & more each day that passes. I was very BLESSED to have such an AMAZING relationship with my mom. I am completely lost without her. I have been married for 25 wonderful years now & have 2 beautiful children/adults & still find myself needing my mom every day. As my tears fall, they’re so easy to wipe off onto my sleeve, BUT how do i wipe them from my broken heart? Each night as a put my head on my pillow, i try to tell myself … i’m strong because i’ve gone ONE MORE day without you mom, BUT i know i’m not as strong as you were mom. Some days i say “i’m gonna be okay” but on those days i really need someone to look me in my eyes, hug me tight & say “i know you’re NOT”. Now i close my eyes to see the world with ONLY “Me & You Mom”. Real Loss only occurs when you lose “SOMEONE” you love … More Than Yourself. Mom you ARE & WILL ALWAYS be the Greatest Mom & I am so blessed to have had you as my teacher & my Best Friend. You’re My Mom & “I LOVE YOU”… 4Ever in my heart~R.I.P. Mom~ Your Daughter Tracey Pallottie Rose XoXo

    • 26. Matty  |  July 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      O recently lost my father to whom I was very close. And I know the feeling of loo sing someone so close… Let me recommend you this author:: Elisabeth Kübler- Ross her most famous book is. The wheel of life or On life after death…
      Thye will definitely make you feel stronger….

  • 27. Josh S. Star  |  August 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I was lucky enough to read this book just upon its release. It is witty, informative, fresh and very well written. It has been a delight to read (and study!) for me, and would be for anyone with even the vaguest interest in the topic – and who doesn’t? The author writes in a thoughtful way while offering tons of educational trivia and practical ideas that will keep you thinking long after you’ve finished! I applaud the book for its practicality, broad approach and appeal, and being an exceptionally enjoyable read … definitely worth picking up.

  • 28. sanju  |  August 20, 2011 at 4:30 am

    love dis site

  • 29. Jenna  |  September 26, 2011 at 4:59 am

    So easy to relate to.

  • 30. quotes about moving on, moving on quotes  |  November 15, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Quotes that motivation you each day. Love the Quotes and apply to your daily living.

  • 31. june  |  November 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    i am 23 and have a very love hate relationship with my mom. i have 2 very young children and try very hard to deal with things differently then my mom did. i was spanked as a child and remember it doing nothing but makeing me hate her. now she tells me children should never be spanked, all of her views are different then when i was a child and it confuses and hurts me. i disagree with most of what she says, my parents are divorced and when i was young she had very little if anything nice to say about my dad. that did nothing but make me very angry with her. after my dad past i diddnt talk to her for 3 months. this sounds sick but i feel as if she diddnt deserve to mourn for him. he never said anything negitive about her when i was young, only told me to respect my mother. i wish i could stop being angry and understand her harsh aprouch was out of love. i have lived on my own sence i was 16, out of choise. i made many bad desitons and had to much fun but am proud of where i am today, married and working and have wonderful happy children. i need to let the past go but dont know how to. and despite me not agreeing with her and my resentment, she is still the first person i call when my son learns a new word or when my dauter does something adorible, i dont understand the logic in it all but i still seek her aprovle and despertly want her understanding. but no one in the world can make as mad as she does. i geuss as a mother, i want me and my chidren to lagh more then we cry and for me to tell them when im wrong, and hug them more then i should

    • 32. Monique  |  January 15, 2012 at 9:56 am

      Although I am much older than you and my daughter is grown with a child of her own, I just want to tell you that I can relate to your story so very much. I was a child of the ’60’s and my Mother was a very devoted Southern Baptist (we are from the South), she still is very devoted. That means that the quote from the Bible: “Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child”, was words that she took very seriously….the rod usually consisted of a belt and the buckle, a switch, and from time to time a razor strap. I try, and have for years, to try to convince myself that her discipline was completely out of love, and maybe in her eyes it was. I do thank her for the foundation of beliefs that she instilled in me…I honestly dont know where I would be without that foundation of right and wrong and my true belief in God, but she also left me feeling like “love hurts” in all my areas of life. I can only get so close to anyone, I usually end up being the one to hurt someone first, before they can hurt me, and then of course the guilt sets in and it just all becomes a vicious cycle. Like you, I raised my daughter, now 30 years old, totally opposite than I was raised….i never raised a hand to her, not to say that I did not discipline her when necessary, but never physically or emotionally. She has ended up married to a wonderful man and they have a beautiful little redheaded, blue-eyed 2 year old! Like you, as much resentment as I have for my Mother, she is the first person that I call when anything good r bad happens, it is almost as tho, even at 50 years old, I still need her approval, on everything. There is still thatlittle girl in there that just wants her to be proud of me and really love me without feeling guilt of “disapproval, or maybe I could have done more”. Thankfully, my daughter is the opposite of me: she is very discreet, private, and even tempered woman who does not use corporal punishment as discipline. I am grateful that my daughter can love without fear of pain and that she has a strong belief system in God and all that he can do. Maybe, the cycle was broken.

  • 33. Sreesuji  |  December 15, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I am sree,
    my mother is very supporting to my every changes like mentaly and mother is a good lisenar.I think this is a good quality to my has my mother as my best friend..I requested all mothers in the world ‘u must show the role in best friend ur u chandrutty(my mother name CHANDRIKA..But i cal chandruty)

  • 34. Hemala  |  January 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I was looking for an article that could enlighten me on Mother-Daughter relationship and finally end up in this blog. I’ve been in this hate-love relationship since i was small. i’m the only daughter with 3 brothers. i used to argue alot with my mom. Sometimes we wont speak to each other for days… but that was when i was 20. A year later when my mom was away to India, that was the exact moment i felt and missed her presence. She taught me how to be independant, how to handle my family members. She taught me the harder way to be myself. That very moment, i take a vow to myself that i would never take her for granted. Now, I’m 28 and she is 54yrs. Thou i’m so independant, my mom would be the first person that will come into my mind whenever i’m having issues with my life, or need advise or even to make a decision. We still having our daily arguements.. but i could never stop loving her as i always did. In a way i’m so proud of my mom that she raise me this way, thats because of her, i’m being the person i am right now..
    Please watch “Goodbye Mom” a korean movie. i’m sure all the mothers and daughters out there could relate your life with the movie. I insisted my mom to watch that movie with me. It was a real eye opener for both of us. We never value the people around us till we lost them. Dont ever take things for granted.

  • 35. Ruby  |  April 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm

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