By Dr. Jan Hittelman
A lot has been written about the relationship between mothers and daughters. It can be one of the closest relationships a woman has and also the most challenging. Generally, females are much more emotionally expressive than males. Consequently, women tend to have much deeper conversations emotionally and share more regarding their secrets and struggles. This dynamic can both strengthen and strain the mother-daughter relationship. It also appears that when mothers give what they believe to be caring advice, daughters often hear criticism. This can be especially true when the conversation is about their daughter’s physical appearance, choice of clothes, etc. Dr. Deborah Tannen, author of Your Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation suggests, “Not to offer advice or criticism-especially about appearance-unless you are asked. And even then, be careful. And don’t forget the power of praise.” She also advises mothers and daughters to spend less time talking and more time doing things together. Finally, while it’s important for mothers to be positive with their daughters, mothers are needy of approval from their daughters as well. Investing in a strong mother-daughter relationship will not only improve your current interaction with your child, but lead towards a lifelong best-friend relationship.
While most daughters idolize their mothers as young children, things can change during adolescence. Once perceived as super woman, mom is now seen as controlling, intrusive, embarrassing and unreasonable. The teenage years can be especially challenging for moms and daughters. Having strategies to strengthen that relationship can be very valuable.