One special Sunday might be about flowers and treats, but now Mother’s Day has gone for another year, we can still show our family how much we value them.
Did you get a card or flowers on Mother’s Day? Did you send them to your own mother?
At this stage of life, we can be a mother, daughter and sometimes even a grandmother all in one and this can bring many pleasures but also a great deal of pressure. It’s not unusual to be helping out with the grandchildren one moment and looking after an elderly, frail mother the next while combining this with a career and marriage.
The mother-daughter relationship
This can be one of the most important relationships in your life. At its best, it can be loving, warm, supportive, interesting, fun and your mother can be the person who knows you best, someone who you can really trust and who will always be there for you.
Sadly though, it can sometimes be the most difficult relationship in your life.
Real life difficulties
Difficulties with new partners
It can be difficult for any child to build a relationship with their parent’s new partner, and just being older doesn’t always make it easier. In my years of experience as an agony aunt, I deal with this issue often. I heard from one woman recently who didn’t get on with the new man in her mother’s life, but her mother told her that her new man came first. As a mother myself, this isn’t easy to understand, but perhaps if you have always put everyone else before you, you suddenly find later life is the time to focus on your needs.
As the mother, try not to let a new man in your life come between you and your daughter.
As the daughter, it might not be easy to put your dislike to one side, but if you both have your mother’s happiness in common, that is a good place to start
Another woman in her 30s wrote to me and said that her mother criticised every boyfriend she had ever had and that she was so controlling. She thought her mother would probably like to choose her husband and organise the wedding if she could! We all know that there may be many factors that can cause an overly involved mothers; perhaps you’re bored and need help refocusing your attentions beyond your daughter, or perhaps it just comes from a desperate need to want your daughter to be happy.
Either way, if it’s making your daughter unhappy, it might be time to reset the boundaries!
Nurturing the mother-daughter relationship
Any good relationship in life requires work.
- - Try not to criticise – It’s so important not to be a critical mother whether your daughter is 5 or 55. A critical mother undermines a daughter’s self-confidence and self-esteem and damages trust between them, even if you have their best intentions at heart.
- - Try not to be dismissive – If everything a daughter says is pushed aside they end up feeling unworthy of attention and can spend their life longing for someone to give them approval, never quite feeling good enough. But sometimes mum does know best, in which case consider the way you are saying it so that you don’t come across as dismissive.
- - Try to make it work – After all, there are usually more than two people involved: fathers, siblings and even grandchildren can feel the repercussions of a frosty mother-daughter relationship and lose the chance to spend quality time together, so try to work together to put bad feelings aside and appreciate the positive parts of your relationships, such as spending time together as a family.
If you do argue…
It is natural for all mothers and daughters to argue at times, – it’s just important to always try and make it up.
- - Always be prepared to make the first move – Even if you don’t think it’s your fault, try to forgive and make amends.
- - As with all relationships, communication is vital – If you have never really talked to each other properly, it’s never too late to start.
- - Don’t assume the other person is a mind reader – Even if you are close, don’t expect that they know what you are thinking or feeling.
- - Express how you feel – If you are hurt or cross or feel misunderstood, share your emotions but don’t do it angrily.
- - Really listen to what the other person is saying – But try to do this without being defensive.
Showing your love
As well as trying to be emotionally close and loving also be tactile. Some daughters complain that their mothers hardly ever hug or kiss them other than an occasional peck on the cheek, which is not the same. This is so often a generational thing in that their mothers were rarely hugged or kissed by their mothers and the pattern continues. But there maybe other ways they prefer to show their appreciation for you such as helping you with the grandchildren, cooking a meal, sharing recent family photos by email – small ways to keep the personal links. These have loving intention that shouldn’t be undervalued.
So make sure you show your gratitude and know how important they are to you. And don’t forget that a hug and a kiss are also nice to give AND receive.
One last thing…
Being a mother or daughter can be a great source of comfort and joy, but remember, a mother is for life, not just for mother’s day.