Saturday, May 13, 2006

Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships

A few months ago, ABC’s 20/20 featured a show titled, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships. It discussed the most complex female relationship.

Here’s an excerpt:

Mothers and daughters have a special bond with all its complex emotions – anger, resentment, competition and of course, love. But every son will also hear echoes of his own life with mother.

Mothers and daughters – sometimes they’re enemies, sometimes best friends.

You love her, sometimes you hate her. Sometimes she’s the last person you want to see. But she’s the first one you call for advice. That is the seesaw of feelings between mothers and daughters.

I think every daughter can relate to this.

I’d like to think that I have a good relationship with my mother now. But it hasn’t been always like that.

I remember being labeled a Papa’s girl when I was growing up. I’m not really sure how it started. And by the way, my sister, who always wanted to contradict me back then, was a self-proclaimed Mama’s girl. So you see, the complication started early on. But as far as I’m concerned, I loved both my parents equally. And I’m sure that each one of them loved both me and sister just the same.

And then my parents separated. I can’t really understand why I became loyal to my father even though I chose to stay with my mother. I think my mother resented that because my father was abusive to her. But he was my father and nothing could change my love for him.

I experienced that seesaw of feelings with my mother. One minute I was telling her everything that was happening in my life, and the next minute, I was sneaking out and hiding the truth.

My father has long been gone and my mother and I get along pretty well now. I confide in her and run to her when I have problems. We see each other at least once a week. We go to mass together, that’s because my family doesn’t have a vehicle and she gives us a ride to church. And she insists. She wants to make sure that we go to church every Sunday.

Sometimes she would volunteer to give me a ride to the grocery store. But I have learned that my closeness to my mother should have boundaries. I know she meant well when she didn’t want me to buy those tomatoes because they were so expensive. And my “But Ma, I need these tomatoes for the dish I’m making” isn’t acceptable to her. When she asked me how much those Asian pears and guavas were, I just ignored her because I didn’t want to argue with her. When she asked me to call her the next time I do my groceries and give her the taxi fare instead, I almost did because I knew that she could use the extra money especially now that gas prices are skyrocketing. But thanks, no thanks. And no offense please Ma. I’d rather do the groceries myself.

Here’s some more excerpt from that 20/20 show, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships:

Deborah Tannen, author of the best-selling “You’re Wearing That?” explains why mother and daughter relationship is so complicated. She says, “Mothers and daughters talk more, talk about more personal topics. That means they may be closer but they also risk offending each other much more.”

There are four flashpoints in the mother and daughter relationship:

1. Appearance - Clothes, weight, hair. Women are judged by how they look and mothers are judged by how their daughters look.
2. Control – Mother sees daughter as a little girl.
3. (Motherly) Advice – Everytime mothers offer advice or suggestion for improvement, there’s an implied criticism. Mother sees it as caring. Daughter sees it as criticizing. If mothers can’t learn how to bite their tongue, daughters need to learn to use humour to diffuse tension.
4. Secrets – Daughters keep secrets from mom if they sense disapproval. Withholding information is a daughter’s way to gain power.

Tannen says that there is no magic formula to the perfect mother-daughter bond. But there are ways to make it work.

1. Bite your tongue.
2. Use humour.
3. See it from their point of view
4. Use praise. It’s also a form of power.

Read more at ABC News Love Her or Hate Her- She’s Still Your Mom.


Ann said...

The heart of a mom, knows no boundaries...
No limits..Just endless love and care!
Happy mother's Day!

noemi said...

My daughters and I have that "love-hate" relationship. We might not agree on a lot of things btu we know at the end of the day, we love each other

Mmy-Lei said...

You love her, sometimes you hate her. Sometimes she’s the last person you want to see. But she’s the first one you call for advice. That is the seesaw of feelings between mothers and daughters.

This is so true. I was the least favorite daughter of my mom since my sisters tag me as daddy's girl. Although i really could feel my mom's rejection, i still love her no matter what.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

bing said...

Kay and I used to be enemies, and i say enemies. she is a stubborn kid, she always wants her way out. but for now, i can say that we have an open relationship. she had developed trust and confidence towards me and i am very, very glad about it. although it is obvious that she is very fond of her father, i like the way she is now better when she was a difficult child before.

i hope we will be friends til i grow old and til she finds herself to be a mother, too.

btw, i am also a papa's girl.

myepinoy said...

Happy Mother's Day!. God Bless you.

j said...

happy mothers' day! god bless you :)

Joy said...

I like your post today. So true.

Happy Mother's Day!
Hope you had a great one.

niceheart said...

Thanks for the greetings everyone. And Happy Mother's Day also to all of you.

Hsin said...

My sister and I have a great relationship with my mom and I hope I can have that with Sara and any other daughter I may have. I realize looking at friends that what my mom and I have is quite rare and I'm grateful for it. She's one of my best friends.

domestic rat said...

Those four flashpoints are so true! I remember the time when it became fashionable to wear camisoles on the outside, paired off with jeans. Mom saw me in one and went,' That's too revealing' and instantly dug out a tee for me to don. Needless to say, I went out wearing that grubby over-sized tee but leaving a mother beaming with approval. I can't say I love my mother the way some daughters do but I know that I won't want anything bad to happen to her. Is that considered love?

Toe said...

I notice that all the things I didn't like about my Mom when I was a kid... I'm exactly the same way now that I'm older. :) How ironic! Happy Mother's Day Niceheart!

niceheart said...

Hsin, I think it's great if moms and daughters can be bestfriends.

DR, I think that's considered love.

Toe, do you also find yourself saying, "I've become my mother?" :)

Sidney said...

Happy Mother's Day !

PhilippinesPhil said...

Mom's always have the advantage I think. After all, she carries us around for 9 tormentous months. If a kid ever owes any parent anything, its to mom!

All this mother-daughter stuff is as mysterious to me as anything that has to do with the fairer sex. I think I will never understand women. Do I need to?

niceheart said...

I think you should try, Phil.

By the way, I've moved my site to

Dee said...

MY love for my daughters does not end but the behavior of my youngest is putting a strain on my relationship with my hubby. She is living with a guy. He does not approve. He does not understand what his actions are doing to my relationship with her. He wants her to dump the guy and move out and it has made my life a hell but he loves her and so do I. I am handling it differently though.

I send her messages and call her and reinforce the fact that I love her no matter what.

So I do get this mother daughter thing. I do not always understand it. I guess I never will. Who understands unconditional love anyway?

niceheart said...

Hi Dee,

I'm sorry to hear about your problems with your daughter. Mother-daughter relationships can be really complicated and no matter what, we do love each other unconditionally.

Anonymous said...

But thats ur mamma- i have one with a totally diff. personality- so i dont bite my tongue..not a good idea- with her i should be keeping secrets, but unfortunately i dont.The more I'm nice to her , the more she takes me for granted.I think for my mamma, I'll have to do everythg opposite of what u said lol..but sometimes i dont kno what would happen if I did that- i love and cherish my parents' relationship more than my life. Maybe they'll let go of me gracefully one day without them splitting up..until then I'm the bridge over troubled waters..the waters seem still and peaceful on top but I'm not sure of whats underneath.