Why can’t mothers and daughters get along? It is an interesting question. If you have always had an awesome relationship with your mother or your daughter, you will wonder why anyone would pose such a question.
Why is the mother daughter relationship so essential to the individual and therefore also to society?
Simply put, the mother daughter relationship predicts how females will form relationships with others throughout the course of their lives. It is mothers who most greatly influence an individual’s moral values because they generally spend more time with their children than fathers do. Empirical studies have found that interdependence and emotional connection are greater between mother and daughter than in any other kind of relationship. It is no wonder then that a daughter’s social and psychological well being and self-esteem is determined by her relationship with her mother.
Dysfunctional mother daughter relationships occur for different people either at various stages of their lives or throughout their entire lives. Others also have a dynamic whereby they may not have a strained relationship with their mother but it is simply a functioning relationship. Not a close one. This may sound like a boring relationship to you but it is more than some people have managed to achieve in trying to fix their broken mother-daughter relationships.
My relationship with my mother has always been quite easy. When I was younger, I did not realize there was any other way for daughters and mothers to be apart from close. Growing up and spending time with other families, watching other mother daughter relationships and becoming a girl-mom myself has opened my eyes to understanding why dysfunctional mother daughter relationships exist.
Why can’t mothers and daughters get along? Let’s look at 9 of the reasons why.
9 reasons for broken mother daughter relationships
- Generational gender differences. Mothers and daughters are likely to have different perceptions of what they are capable of and what opportunities are available to them as women. With each generation, awareness is increased of gender inequalities and that awareness can cause daughters to have entirely different aims or goals than their mothers did. That gap in awareness and understanding of the world can create a rift between mothers and daughters.
- Over protection. When mothers are overprotective, resentment can be built up on the daughter’s part. As girls get older and grow into their womanhood, they may crave the ability to find out about the world with their mother’s guidance. For example, they may want to spend more time with their friends than with their family which means that they would prefer to spend less time with their mothers as well. Overprotective mothers would try to make this difficult for their daughters to do and daughters could resent their mothers for this.
- Cultural environment and family traditions. Some cultures and various families’ traditions strongly prioritize respect and discipline over any kind of friendly relationship between parents and their children. This means that daughters grow up seeing their moms completely as disciplinary figures rather than as caregivers that they can also confide in.
- Childhood trauma. Children see their parents as their foremost care providers and therefore also as their primary source of protection. Girls and women who experience childhood trauma can come to resent their parents if they feel that they were able to shield them from the trauma they experienced but did not.
- Removal of the goddess complex. Seeing your parents as invincible and essentially capable of everything is not unusual to a child. Little girls can see their moms as the most beautiful and most capable women on the earth. As they grow up and start to see or realize that their mothers are only human, it could cause them to focus on their mothers’ failings as they perceive them and this can cause them to drift apart from them.
- Jealousy. As difficult as it may be for you to believe, jealousy on either a mother or daughter’s part is possible and of course will make it difficult for them to get along easily.
- Interdependence. This can cause resentment as well if one or the other tries to find their own sense of independence. A great example of this is when a mother and daughter who are interdependent emotionally are forced to physically separate due to the daughter leaving home for college. It can create abandonment issues for the mother who is left at home with an empty nest.
- Hormones. Usually in addition to other things, hormones can cause broken mother daughter relationships as well. Whether it is a mother going through menopause or a teenage daughter going through hormonal changes, both can cause some difficulties in communication as mother and daughter deal with physical changes.
- Expectations borne from sacrifice. Being a mother involves a lot of sacrifice – whether a woman chooses to call it sacrifice or not. This sacrifices a mother makes for her daughter can sometimes lead to them expecting certain things in return from their daughter and when those expectations are not met, mothers can come to see their daughters as ungrateful. This leads to disappointment. Sometimes on both parts.
Leaving the nest
Let us focus on this for a bit. It seems that daughters leaving home can change a mother daughter relationship somewhat. Whether it is on a semi-permanent basis for university or college with the expectation that the daughter will move back home after completing her education, or permanently when the daughter gets married and moves away, for example.
For the mother, having an empty nest or a nest without her grown up daughter forces her to put her mothering energies into other things. She creates a new identity for herself in the process and that identity may or may not mesh well with her daughter’s. Mother and daughter might draw closer together because the mother now understands her daughter better because of her own new lifestyle.
On the other hand, leaving home can have an adverse effect particularly on an already strained mother daughter relationship if, as the saying goes, out of sight means out of mind. If either mom or daughter make no effort to remain in touch and continue to cultivate their relationship, it could lead to resentment and the two could grow apart quickly.
READ >>> Feathering Your Empty Nest
How to improve mother-daughter relationships
Why can’t mothers and daughters get along? We have learned some reasons why. Here are five simple but effective ways to gradually improve broken or difficult mother daughter relationships.
- Set realistic expectations. Take the nature of your relationship with each other thus far into account. Be aware of how your relationship has been and what you know of each other’s personalities. Be conscious of how you each react to things. This way, nothing will take you by surprise and you will be careful in your communication with each other.
- Be quick to forgive. The previous point on setting expectations will help you here. It is important to be quick to forgive each other because otherwise you will continue to set up emotional stumbling blocks. It will make it almost impossible for you to mend your strained relationship.
- Empathise. It helps to put yourselves in each others’ shoes. Consider how the other person is feeling. This may help you to understand each other better and will certainly open up the lines of communication between you.
- Listen closely. In order to effectively empathise, you must hear the other person out. You need to be able to listen closely and really hear the meaning behind the other person’s words. It helps also to repeat to them what it is that you think they are saying to make sure that there are no misunderstandings.
- Speak freely. Just as you listen closely, you also need to be able to speak from your heart as well. Communication is a two-way street and if mothers and daughters are to get along, you should each be able to speak your minds in a non-hurtful way.