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Mother Daughter relationship - Why and how does it go wrong ?

Updated on September 30, 2010

Mom and Daughter

The relationship between a mother and daughter is quite fragile. It keeps changing at different points in our life. It can swing from love to hate and again to love. As kids, we all love our mothers more than anybody else in this world. Yet, as we grow, we do face certain situations where we never seem to agree with each other. The mother daughter bond can grow strong day by day, or go the other way round without either of them realizing what went wrong. Although this is something that can happen in any relationship and with any of our family or friends, it is much difficult to cope up with when it is with your own parents.

I talk about this from the relationship that me and my mom share. From my early childhood memories, I remember being totally attached to my mother. I used to sleep next to her while she narrated stories. She would drop me at the school and pick me up in the afternoon while I told her everything that happened in my class. She would allow me to play and have fun. Although she was quite strict and a disciplinarian, the bond that we shared was wonderful.

As I grew up, i could see some changes in her nature. She was so concerned about my academics that all other activities took a back seat. I remember being whacked without any explanation, and she firmly believed that I would do far better in studies when i was spanked. As a teenager,I had constant clashes with her on topics ranging from my wardrobe and appearance to combined study at friend's house to why i was not as social as she wanted me to be . I was constantly compared to other siblings/cousins who did better at academics. I felt totally unloved and uncared for during that time.

Once i passed out of high school, I was allowed to follow my dreams. She became less concerned about academics and trusted me to do well. However, she was still worried that I may not get a good job and always advised me against taking risks. There was lot of improvement in our relationship as she used to tell me about her own childhood and the troubles she had gone through. She treated me like an adult and I started confiding in her. At this point, she was more of a friend that a mom, and we were close.

Now that I am grown up with a daughter of my own, we again have constant quarrels about parenting styles. She doesn't approve of the way I am bringing up my child and feels that my kid would do far better under her care and supervision. I, on the other hand, want to be as different from my mother as possible particularly in my relationship with my daughter.

In contrast, my relationship with my dad has always been the same. We love and understand each other quite well. With him around, I can be just me, and, although we don't know as much about each other as my mom does, we still share a nice, comfortable bond. I am also quite amazed how well he puts up with mom's emotional ups and downs.

What is it that mothers understand their daughters so well when they are young but never seem to understand them as they grow up ? Has it anything to do with the expectations moms have from children? A mother wants her daughter to think like she does, and fulfill any of her unrealized dreams. She also wants her daughter to be more successful and independent than she herself is. However, she is scared to let go of her daughter and is constantly worried about her safety. Her son, on the other hand is expected to be quite different from her, and little arrogance or defiance on his side is tolerated.

On the other hand, as moms daughters grow up, in her quest for freedom and liberty, she ends up having minor conflicts with her mother and it affects their bond. This becomes unacceptable for the mother. She would feel that her little one is turning into an arrogant teenager and feels quite helpless in controlling her daughter. Gaining the trust of parents means a lot to the child and if she feels that her mother doesn't trust what she's saying, it can weaken the bond. I had a friend who was a victim of child abuse by a close relative and her mom refused to believe her. No wonder my friend had no respect or love for her mother. Children look up to their moms in situations like this and brushing off a serious issue like sexual abuse as a figment of child's imagination is the worst thing a parent can do.

Once the daughter has her own family, she may again start looking up to her mom for advices and that can bring them closer. Once a mother becomes a grandma, she may choose to change her parenting style. She may give more freedom to their grandchild than she did to her child. She would not mind giving in to certain demands of her grandchildren to prove her love for them. This may again give way to conflicts between the new mother and the grandmother. The cycle goes on ...

Things would be far better if both of them accept the fact that togetherness and separation is a part of life and that each of them is a different individual, capable of making their own decisions. While the ego clashes of teenage years is seemingly inevitable, the clashes between an adult daughter and mother can be resolved. Once the mother and daughter acknowledge and respect the others viewpoint, things would improve.

A mother should accept that her daughter is grown up and trust her to make mature decisions. She should look back at her life and try to remember her relationship with her own mother and respect her daughter's need for privacy. The daughter, on the other hand should remember that her mom is a normal person who is capable of making mistakes, and although she doesn't always agree with her mom's view point, she can at-least lend a patient ear to what her mother is saying. They can both support and help each other while not enforcing their decisions on each other.


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      Mary 3 years ago

      My mum wasn't at all interested in me, it was very much a "you do what I tell you or else" relationship. Dad was the same, both totally self-absorbed. I was determined not to be that kind of parent and my 4 children were told often how much I loved them. After my marriage broke up, I became the sole parent, and I provided them with the best I could. The same applied when the grandchildren came along. I was always there to give emotional and financial support. Fast forward to the present. I am now 70yrs of age, and my youngest was so jealous of how much my little Grandchild loved her granny, she started to be mean, pushing me out of their lives. My 2nd eldest, who is almost 50 and childless (by choice) is my wee darlings god-mother, but she too is jealous of our bond. Consequence is that I have been abandoned by my daughters, I haven't seen my grandchild for 4 months, they don't visit anymore, and I am absolutely broken-hearted by their callousness. It's as if they have flushed my life and all that loving and caring down the toilet? ┼┤hat happened? We didn't even have an argument!

    • profile image

      Amanda 3 years ago

      Adult daughters with children of their own are old enough to realize that relationships take two persons both respecting one another, attempting to accept differences in points of view, and willing to compromise and communicate when different viewpoints cause problems. I say this because many comments speak to respect, compromise, communication and attempting to resolve problems as something only the elder mother should have to do. (More younger persons are online responding than elder persons, thus the sympathy is usually towards the person with whom they can identify, ie: their age/peer group.)

      Daughters who are adults who reach out with attempts to love and understand usually find a mother who will do the same, and vice versa. Adults who let their life-stresses boil over to become abusive to any

      others are showing extreme immaturity. If you don't make cutting snide remarks to strangers, why do it to those you love?

    • profile image

      Maxine Pumariega 3 years ago

      I have 2 daughters 22 N 19 yrs of age. My oldest has my first and only grandchild/son. I have a very strong N close relationship w/ my 19yr old. As for me N my oldest...Nothing. She completely N utterly hates me. I miss her n think about her everyday especially when Im with my grandson cause he looks jus like Her..

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      Karen, 4 years ago

      I had a great relationship with my daughter also. But, has she is going thru teenage years it has become difficult for us. I have been with her step daddy every sense she was 6 months old. When she got to high school things started to change. We gave her everything we could. Well as time went on an she got worse .we sent her away for a month an. She was great when she came home. She would help do things around the house. But, now she has moved in with her best friend. An it is killing me inside. As a mother you always want your daughter with her family. We never told her she had to leave she got mad at us an left.. I feel like I felled as a parent.. what to do?

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      Hells Bells2 5 years ago

      Interesting article. I am struggling very much with my relationship with my mother and I am in my mid 40s. She disapproves of my choice of partner and is very critical towards him, which I find very hurtful. In fact she is like a broken record and I now just choose not to answer her. She does not hesitate to make comments about my appearance - such as that I need to lose weight, or if she doesn't like something I am wearing. Although she compliments me too, the negatives are very difficult to take and we frequently have arguments. I often feel she treats me like a child and with a total lack of respect. I spend quite a lot of time with her because she has a number of health issues and I do not want her to feel abandoned - my father died 7 years ago. Having said that, I also try to limit the time we have together because I do not always enjoy her company and having to put up with the way she speaks to me. I feel wracked with guilt because sometimes I realise that I do not really like my mother very much, even though I feel compassion and care towards her. My father would often intercede on my part, which did help to ease things. As with the writer's situation, I felt more at ease with him. My mother and I have perhaps become closer in some respects since his death but at the same time more fractious.

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      TeriKaye 5 years ago

      I have had a so so relationship with my mother my entire life. Sometimes better than others, a few great times sprinkled in there, but I feel so much anger I truly do not know what to do. I know that with each generation you try to do better, better parenting skills, better everything. She has never spent one on one with any of my children, same goes with my sisters children. She has excuses for everything, she feels ignored when at a family function although never initiates a conversation with a grandchild to see what is going on with their world. How's school, what are you doing for the summer. If I talk to her never once will she inquire as to how my kids are doing, instead we talk about people from her work, people I don't know, don't care. One conversation I told her I did not care to hear about total strangers, she said that then she did not have anything to talk about. I told her then she had to be pretty boring. The night ended with jokes and laughs and a great time. I had a phone conversation where I laid everything out, it did not end on a positive note. Along comes my granddaughter's graduation, my mom is invited, she does not come because of the bad feelings between her and myself. I'm thinking, "if she makes it, she has put her great grandchild before everything else." She doesn't make it to the graduation. I was ready to make amends if she made that step but she did not. What do you think?

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      Just Ask Jess 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I have three daughters and hope to have a great relationshiP with then. Hoping for more love than hate haha.

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      Jean 5 years ago

      The mother-daughter relationship is just as crucial if not more important than the father daughter relationship. There has been a movement in this country to say otherwise and a lot of people are swallowing the jargon. We need to stop making dad seem more important than the mother. It is so unfair. Dads are good, but not to exceed mom. The mother daughter relationship seems to go through a rocky period because women fight with each other and worship the men in their lives. The mom is keeping it real and wants the girl to realize what she already knows about men and the world, but the girl gets mad at mom. Then when dad talks to her, she swallows it hook, line, and all. Isn't that just like a female? But it is wrong!!! Maybe one day you all will see this and understand it like I do. My eyes are wide open.

    • swapna123 profile image

      swapna123 6 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot for reading this and leaving a comment :)

    • Jokylu profile image

      Jokylu 6 years ago from Waratah North, Victoria.

      I hope you feel much better having got all that off your chest. The best thing you did was have a child of your own and as you grow with your daughter you will grow in understanding of your own mum.

      It is as you say impossible not to love your children, however they behave or whatever they might do to hurt you, that mother love remains alive in you forever. I was pleased that you acknowledged that it cuts both ways, yes your mum is an ordinary person, with feelings just like you and she can be fragile too. Mothers need to know their daughters love them just as daughters need to know their mums love them. Often the biggest problem is just misunderstanding or poor communication and then little things can grow into monstosities in the mind of the one feeling hurt.

    • graceomalley profile image

      graceomalley 6 years ago

      I think the mother daughter bond has the potential to be v. close, but that closeness can carry the seeds of its own destruction. Thanks for writing this. I think it is a topic that taps into deep emotions.

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      K.A.E Grove 7 years ago from Australia

      this was a wonderful article that seemed to be written from the pages of my life, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences i know it can be hard, will be linking it up to a poem of mine on the same subject:)

      Well done!

    • swapna123 profile image

      swapna123 7 years ago from India

      Hi Sasha, thanks a lot for ur wonderful comments. I've always felt that my mom doesn't approve of anything I do and there are loads of things that we don't like in each other, but, i've never felt that she totally hates me, although her behavior sometimes suggests so. She may like my brother more than she likes me and she may not like anything i do but to hate or totally dislike one's own child is not possible.

      After all, she gave birth to me and fed me and taught me how to walk, talk, behave and watched me grow. As a mother myself, i know for sure that when you have gone through all that, it's impossible not to have any love or affection towards ur kid. But, as the child grows, the bond can get weaker and negative emotions easily make us forget any good memory that we shared.

    • Sasha'sOnHubShell profile image

      Sasha'sOnHubShell 7 years ago from Florida

      I've been trying to dissect and analyze where I disappointed my Mother so deeply in my life, or why it is that we don't seem to be as close as a Mother and Daughter should be. It's good to know that I'm not alone in this pondering.

      It certainly puts the stars into alignment, reading that "A Mother wants her Daughter to think like she does, and to fulfill her unfulfilled dreams." I hadn't really considered before that maybe the core of the disconnection as I've grown up is that I am much more outwardly emotional than my Mother has ever been comfortable with. Perhaps it is just that we are so very different that finding that bond becomes more and more a challenge as life progresses.

      I have fought for my Mothers approval of me more than anything else in my life, and it always seems to be the one impossible hurdle to overcome.

      I have a very straight forward question for any Mothers out there who'd like to offer some clarity...

      Is it possible for a Mother to simply just not like their Daughter? Can something this simple and this sad be a reality?

      Again, Kudos and Bravos, Wonderful Article.

    • swapna123 profile image

      swapna123 7 years ago from India

      Thanks minxibell. It is okay to have a little fight occasionally, but what's important is the way you patch up after that. My mother has never, ever told me she's sorry for something she has said or done to me. However, with 4 yr old daughter, i say sorry everytime i feel i've said something that made her unhappy. We hug and kiss after the minor fights that we have and that keeps us both happy.

    • minxibell profile image

      minxibell 7 years ago from Stafford

      My daughter is nearly 7 & we are sometime more like siblings fighting. I`m told by everyone else that we are so volatile as we are to alike. I`m never one to back down & she tests the boundaries. which i`m hoping when she is older we will have acloser bond as when everything is calm we are very loving towards each other. Where as when i was growing up i had no real relationship with my mother & even now & sometimes i do think it is because it was a no emotion up bringing as it seemed showing emotion was weakness.

    • swapna123 profile image

      swapna123 7 years ago from India

      Thanks for the comment Elayne ! Hope your relationship with your daughter grows better over time.

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I had a rocky relationship with my mother, but my daughter and I rarely, if ever, have disagreements. She is so special to me and hopefully it will continue that way. I'm not sure what went wrong with my mother and I. I just always felt I could never please her no matter what I did, so I gave up trying.

    • swapna123 profile image

      swapna123 7 years ago from India

      Thanks Paula :)

    • PaulaHenry1 profile image

      PaulaHenry1 7 years ago from America

      Thanks for pointing me your way swap, this is a great hub. You and I have a lot in common regarding our upbringing. You have made me a follower!Nice job!

    • swapna123 profile image

      swapna123 7 years ago from India

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, a hug can sort out most of the negative emotions.. I just hope my little one and I share the bond of unconditional love always !

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

      I love my relationship with my own daughter. We go hot and cold but she always comes back for a hug. :)