A mother-daughter relationship is very complicated, tortuous, twisting, mysterious, and difficult. This topic is the most challenging blog because it is hard to sort out the general patterns reflecting all mother-daughter relationships. Some friends are curious about why I wrote the father-son topic first and mother-daughter last. A friend's comments about his complicated relationship with his father inspired my interest in writing blogs about human relationships. We humans, spend more than half of our entire life dealing with relationships. We have been living in unconscious cycles of all kinds of relationships, family, relatives, friends, peers, and communities.
Nobody can choose his or her parents. The family ecosystem and social environment shape our future and experiences. Everyone is unique; we are all different, including mother and daughter. I have seen the most loving and close mother-daughter relationships, but also have witnessed the worst and toxic version. The best ones make the perfect life partners and great team for life; the bad ones become the worst enemies with poison and torture. Suppose the mother and daughter are like sisters with total equality and mutual respect in their relationship. In that case, the daughter will have more chance to become a very responsible, caring, forgiving, and sacrificing lady.
Girls in the sisters’ type of mother-daughter relationship typically live a life with burden and responsibility without feeling loved and protected. The girls in the best friend type of mother-daughter relationship live a life with courage, love, and support without worrying about failure, pressure, rejection, and punishment. Some mothers and daughters are like strangers by keeping distance and even no contact at all. Girls in this situation usually live a life with serious personal issues, such as depression, anxiety, low confidence, no self-esteem, fear, and insecurity. Most mothers choose to be their daughters' cheerleaders by participating in their daughters' life journey, encouraging their life choices, celebrating their achievements, and supporting their dreams.
There are other types of mother-daughter relationships, such as controlling, hating and resenting, abusive, and unethical relationships. From the logical side, we all imagine the mother-daughter relationship as unique, close, loving, sharing, equal, understanding, non-judgmental, and grateful. From the realistic angles, the mother-daughter relationships are too difficult to define and make sense. Why is the mother-daughter relationship so challenging and confusing? I want to share with you the 12 layers behind the love and hate relationship between mothers and daughters based on my perspective.
1. Closeness with independent space.
A good mother-daughter relationship equals closeness. At the same time, mother and daughter set independent space for each other without going over the boundaries. Too close without personal space would eventually cause conflicts. Giving space to each other might be the most comfortable and safe relationship for mother and daughter.
2. Blame game with emotional attachment.
It is common for mother and daughter to play the blame game for control and power. It is a toxic relationship to use guilt and emotion to hold the connection. It might be convincing at the time, but it would make the family tie too heavy without fun and joy.
3. Critical of each other without appreciation.
Mother and daughter are critical about each other all the time without feeling grateful. It is easy for one party to feel victimized and vulnerable under this kind of mother-daughter relationship. In most cases, the daughters would either run away from home or give up their dreams to follow mothers’ paths.
4. Acceptance without judgment.
Many mothers and daughters struggle to build a good relationship because they couldn't accept the other party as who they are and try to change them all the time. Acceptance is the first step to repair the problematic relationship without judgment and preset opinions. Allow others to live a life of their own will without saying harsh words or hostile comments. It is alright to be different; even the mother and daughter might share similar values, lifestyles, and personalities.
5. Hidden hate and resentment without dialogue.
Many daughters hide their resentment of their mothers without speaking out. Most of the resentful feelings are due to past events or old issues. Most mothers would not remember those old conflicts and are confused by their daughters’ running away. The misunderstanding between daughter and mother will go away by open dialogue and wholehearted communication.
6. Secret competition and comparison.
Many people say that mothers and daughters are the natural competitors because they are all women. They do not compete openly but rather, in their hearts and souls. For example, a mother might not like the daughter's hair color but feel jealous about her body shape; a daughter might feel desire for her mother's successful career and luxury jewelry but dislike the mother's new boyfriend. The silent battle between mother and daughter seems like a lifetime event with no end.
7. Getting together but not living together.
It is impossible to keep a healthy mother-daughter relationship by living closely together. It is better to see each other once in a while rather than with total togetherness. Less time together can result in happy and enjoyable moments; more time together guarantees trouble and conflict.
8. Forgive and forget.
Mothers and daughters can both make mistakes because they are humans. Strict mothers must guide and protect their daughters in childhood, sometimes with hostile words or behavior. Daughters might make wrong choices while growing-up. Independence and maturity have prices. Both mother and daughter can learn from mistakes. Forgiving each other truthfully, not just forgetting, is vital to building a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
9. Fight without anger.
Mothers and daughters often fight because of generational differences and experiences. It is not a fight of life and death, and mostly it is about power to convince the other party. Daughters want to show their mothers their new lifestyles and the trends of the new century, and mothers worry about their daughters' being wild and careless. It is alright to fight about the gap between the two generations occasionally: but not with anger and conflict.
10. Freedom and authoritarianism.
After growing up, daughters want the freedom to explore the world on their own terms. Still, mothers want them to follow strict guidelines in the areas of personality, social traits, mental behavior, emotional mindset, and dating choices. A mother will feel betrayed if the daughter refuses to follow the mothers' footprints. Mothers and daughters love each other deeply but in their own ways and in different terms.
11. Unrealistic expectations of each other.
All mothers want to feel proud about their daughters' achievements and successes by ignoring the daughters' interests, talents, and capability. Daughters always hope that their mothers love and support them without jumping into their life paths and direction. Both mothers and daughters need to cherish each other without too much pressure and unrealistic expectations.
12. Unconditional love with compassion and hope.
Mothers and daughters are supposed to be the best gifts from God to each other. There is no love like that of the mother and daughter in the human world, even if their relationship is challenging. Both mothers and daughters should say these words aloud to each other: "love you, mom" or "love you, daughter." It is alright to have conflicts and differences, but nothing can stop their love and closeness. Unconditional love with compassion and hope is the only solution to human relationships, especially for mother-daughter relationships.