I am a daughter. Like many others, a devoted and loving daughter for my mom. Unfortunately life is not that simple. Despite the love women share for their moms, they also have tension, struggles and painful experiences with the woman that gave them life. The life our mother gave to us is also the life she seems to affect almost forever. What is it that often makes the relationship between mother and daughter so difficult?
I would like to share my observations I had with various mom/daughter relationships, not to forget my own relationship with my mother which has no less conflict than in any other.
Let’s look back when we were teenagers. We often saw in our mother our best but older friend. We knew that we had to respect her, but at the same time we felt free to fight and argue with her. What connected us was a deep and loving relationship. Of course, we didn’t want to be like our mother, because that would have been embarrassing. We were young, they seemed old and nothing could sell us the idea that we were like Mom. Instead we were struggling to find our own identity and build the emotional independence we needed to be prepared for life. Teenagers hate and love their moms, but in the end Mom is the one they need most.
After many years developing into a grown up woman or maybe into a mom, things change. Women often argue with their moms, because Mom interferes into their love affairs or marriages. Mom wants to tell us how we must raise our kids, she always seems to know better. Mom is our toughest critic and whatever we do, it is either not good enough or too good to be true. Whatever happens, somehow we do not manage to cut the cord. We are hooked and trapped in love and despair.
I have met successful business women who lost their balance as well as their leadership role the minute they entered their mom’s home. Although leaders in business, they were immediately demoted to just the daughter, and in that role they had to listen to what Mom had to say. I am afraid that I am one of them, and I often wonder how I can instantly diminish into someone small and obedient when my mom is around. I have been a managing director in well known advertising firms, but coming home always meant that Mom was the manager and I was at best the junior executive (if I got lucky and the service job was not vacant). I have usually overcome these situations with a healthy sense of humor, but I was still not happy about this transformation.
Many women have told me that they suffered from the influence of their strong moms all their lives. They struggled with the problem of not being good enough no matter what they did. This was a burden they carried around all their lives, and only a few managed to escape from that spell.
As a business coach and mentor for women, I want to encourage women to step out of the shadow of their mothers. I invite all you loving daughters to look at your mothers with compassion and love and be aware that it is not all about her. Remember: You are not obliged to please her. Live your own life and look at the positive gifts you have received from your mother. Trust me; there are gifts, and you will find them if you keep digging.
No matter if you are a mom yourself or a woman without any children, we are our mom’s daughters as long as our mothers live, and that is a wonderful thing. You are very lucky if you still have your mom when you are older, but that does not mean that she can rule your life. Setting boundaries to protect your personal space and the space of your family is very important. It can be a painful process to exclude the beloved person when it comes to certain topics, but it is very important for your well‑being and your family that you define areas that are none of Mom’s business.
Nowadays when I enter Mom’s house I take a deep breath and try to stay connected with myself. It would be a lie to say that I can manage it well, but I score much better than I used to do. And whenever I fail and find myself in the role of an obedient minor again, I am very gentle with myself. Rome was not built in a day, and the relationship with my mom is not a less complex project.
Our mothers are what they are. The older they get, the more they show this. Don’t even try to change them, because this will only lead to disappointment. It is your attitude that you can change, and that can make your relationship with your mom work much better.
Be a woman and act like one.
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Reprinted from “Hertha Wolff-Arend | Be a Woman and Act Like One” a blog written by Hertha Wolff-Arend. Subscribe at http://beawomanandactlikeone.com/ and receive Blog updates by email.
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