Category: Beautiful Family
My mother is a wonderful person, was a fabulous mother, and she will always be someone I proudly associate myself with. None of us are perfect, and true love is recognizing someone’s imperfections and loving them all the same. I love my mother.
My mother did many things right! Being a mother is a very exhausting role. There are no breaks, no pressing “reset” or do-overs, and no instructions for “doing it right.” Having a great mother of your own certainly helps as she can be your role model of a job well done. My mother is my role model.
But, there comes a time when a girl becomes her own woman, and is no longer “her mother’s daughter.” I believe that they are mutually exclusive.
A mother’s role is very complicated. When the child is young, the mother is a provider, protector, guidance counselor, disciplinarian, role model, healer, cheer-leader, and best-friend. As the child becomes an adult, the mother finds herself in a difficult position. She no longer serves all of these roles; rather she is more of cheerleader, and sometimes advisor. She offers her support, and trusts that she raised a capable child who is pursuing her life purpose in the world. But at what age does her role change?
I think the change is gradual and occurs over the first two decades of a child’s life. As the child enters into her 3rd decade of life, the mother’s role has transitioned into a more mentor, friend, cheer-leader support role. This is especially true if she raised “a good kid” - a child who strives to be excellent, who is thriving, and contributing positively to the World.
Why is it so difficult, then, for highly functioning women to have fulfilling relationships with their mothers?
Mothers are not perfect, and bring with them their own issues when interacting with their daughters. But these “issues” do not become apparent until the two *women* are forced to interact. Until then, the adult/child - mother/daughter relationship is relatively easy. Child does what Mom says. Child shares Mom’s views. Mom is in control of the relationship. Control over a submissive subject is easy.
As the child grows into adulthood, Mother’s control dwindles. As this control is lost, and the relationship dynamics change, frustration arises. The mother is now unsure of her role. As she realizes that she no longer has control over this other human, she becomes frustrated. At times, she may resort to passive-aggressive manipulation, invoking guilt and shame in her daughter. This can become a major aspect in this “new” relationship dynamic.
We do not want our mothers to focus on our imperfections, as we have never focused on theirs. We know we are imperfect, and do not need our mothers reminding us of this fact all the time. There are so many people in our lives that are eager to tell us how defective, or ill-prepared we are. There are no shortages of nay-sayers and skeptics in our world. We do not need our mothers serving this role in our lives.
As the daughter comes of age, she looks to her mother to serve a much different role. As she is trying to please the mother, she is exercising her own thoughts, and pursuing her own desires. The hope is, her mother will forever be a cheer-leader, supportive and present in her life. I think criticism has no place in the mother-daughter relationship unless specifically sought. And I think advice has to be given carefully.
Everyone wants someone who believes in them, trusts that their decisions are sound, and loves them unconditionally. If a mother can provide this for her daughter, the relationship will thrive. Offering criticism or “advice” undermines this ‘trust in their sound decision-making.’ Even when things don’t go as planned, a good friend and supporter is there, encouraging you to get back on your feet…listens as you go over what you “did wrong,” and offers more support in the next endeavor! That’s what we want!
A cheer-leader, a best-friend, a non-judgmental confidante, and supporter. A person who knows the *whole* story, and is therefore (almost) as excited as you are to watch your life unfold. These are the qualities that are most important to a child as she leaves the nest and begin her own life journey.
Making the relationship better. What would you like your mother to know?
(with input from readers)
- I would love for my mother to believe in me, my decisions, and offer her support (even if I end up being “wrong”).
- It would be great if my mother could come over, break bread with my little family, pretend to like our friends, enjoy our company, support our event, all with a smile and positive energy.
- Here’s a plea from all the good kids out there to their preoccupied mothers: please stop focusing on the bad seed and appreciate the wonderful gift you have in us. Are we not enough? We are worthy of time, attention and resources and should not be overlooked or taken for granted simply because we played the game by the rules, and are doing well for ourselves.
- I wish she’d be less judgmental and simply be with us, enjoy our company, and focus on the spirit behind the gathering. I’m not really interested in hearing her unsolicited negative opinion about my life (anymore). I would enjoy her more if she were able to just observe and celebrate life with me, and abstain from giving a critique on every occasion.
- I do not like it when she talks negatively about marriage, about babies, or about family. I do not like it when she criticizes the way I’m raising my children. I do not like her passing judgment on us. I do not like her acting like a jealous bitch. I feel sad, and angry by her actions and her attitude.
- I would have loved to have a cheering section for me at my major life events – even still. So it was worth working out the complexities of the trip to be there in support.
- If she did like me, and enjoyed my company, appreciated my efforts, and wanted to be near me…I wish she would have told me.
- It would have been such an outstanding show of support if my mother were able to offer reassurance and wish me happiness at this point on my life journey.
- If she could give me reassurance, and objective advice without ulterior motives, or manipulation.
- I don’t understand why my mother wasn’t more interested in protecting me and my little family. It would have been nice if she were able to see each of her children as individuals, and not as a “class or people” or as a ‘group.’ If she could pause, and see my unique situation among my siblings as a married woman with children, and appreciate my concerns, my desire to make my family work, and support us in the future I’m trying to build independent of her and my siblings, I would have been very grateful.
- It is not fair for mothers to take from the children that are doing well, or otherwise not support them in the same way, just because they aren’t as needy…and give more resources to the others who didn’t finish their homework, or otherwise decide to contribute less to the family pot.
- I think mothers should be less obsessed with the perception of abject “fairness” and realize what is “fair” cannot be objectified in a single point in time, since each person is in a different stage in life in that moment.
- Even if she really feels we are “overdoing” it with our children…it would have been nice if she would have kept her negative judgments to herself.
- Why can’t my mom be a well adjusted, positive, supportive, HAPPY, person who has her own life…and is honest with everyone about her motivations, desires, and expectations? If she possessed these qualities, our relationship would be much more pleasant for both of us.
- It’s just her passive/aggressiveness that bothers me. And the fact that nothing I do is consistent with anything that “she would do”.
- It would be so nice to believe that she really does have my back, even if I make a mistake in not following her recommendations.
- It would be helpful if my mother would realize that she is not always right, and verbally acknowledge this fact before she gets on her soapbox.
- It doesn’t feel good to think that your mother’s support is so conditional. I would like to believe that I’ll have her support as long as I stay within the very broad boundaries of what is socially acceptable (i.e. legal, ethical).
- It kind of saddens me that my mom can't just be a friend. Can't just be supportive...a cheerleader. I'm realizing that there does come a time when our job as "mother"...is actually over. And that 'relationship' changes as your role in the lives of your children change. I think that when "mother" cannot transition to "friend"...problems ensue.
- The thing I wish she’d understand is, I am also just trying to “do my thing” and provide the best of everything for my own little family.
- I do wish I felt more appreciated, loved, and interesting to her. I do wish she were more willing to really participate in my life in a positive way.
- I DON'T understand, however, how you have a child like me...and say those things to me...for the reasons she's doing it.
- I often sit and think, how could a mother essentially disown her child because that child is successfully living her own life? I hear about it all the time. Gay children, young mothers, children who decide to marry outside of their race, religion, have a different political view-point, or otherwise question the “traditions” of their family are too often ostracized. Ostracized simply for realizing their own Divine path in life. This is wrong, and should be avoided.