Mothers and Daughters – What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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.

mothers and daughtersAfter 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.

whats love got to do with itAs 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.

Permission to Reprint: You may reprint any items from “Mothers and Daughters – What’s Love Got To Do With It?” in your print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

Reprinted from “Hertha Wolff-Arend | Be a Woman and Act Like One” a blog  written by Hertha Wolff-Arend.  Subscribe at and receive Blog updates by email.

If you like these tips, please pass them on to your friends, clients and colleagues.

About Hertha Wolff-Arend

I am a business coach and writer located in Paso Robles, California. I am the author of the book Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life’’ and I write a blog for women with the same title. I give motivational speeches and offer leadership and personality trainings to women. I also work with business owners and managers to support them in their leadership skills and personal development. As a strategic consultant, I also help companies with their communication and marketing strategy. Born and raised in Germany, I spent most of my adult life in Europe. I have a German university degree in languages and economics and I worked for many years in the advertising industry as one of the few female managing directors in Germany for major international advertising agencies such as Young&Rubicam, TBWA and Bates. My client list consisted of mainly blue chip clients, where I was responsible for their communications strategies and the development and execution of the advertising concepts. Just to name a few clients: Lufthansa, Danone, Kraft Foods, Bosch, Singapore Airlines, Ericsson, Campbells etc. In 2004 I relocated with my husband and son to California. I graduated from New Venture West in San Francisco as a Certified Integral Coach and started my own coaching practice in 2007. I am fluent in German and English and have conversational skills in Spanish. Aside from my dedication to work and family, I am a passionate dressage rider. I am devoted to supporting women in business, with a focus on women in the lower and middle management who are aiming at a career in the higher ranks or who want to develop their own business.
This entry was posted in Hertha Wolff-Arend and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mothers and Daughters – What’s Love Got To Do With It?

  1. Monica F. Fischer says:

    Oh yes, I know this very conflict pretty well. When being confronted having to deal certain (often repetitive) conflictuous situations with my Mum (who I love very much) I tell myself: take a deep breath, stay calm, don’t let her irritate you and so on. Still I have to admit I’m not always good a avoiding certain traps and then I ask myself, which triggers are being pushed within myself? Very honestly, it’s the mirror of myself I’m recognizing in my Mums behaviour. That sometimes really can be frightening, “scary – because you don’t really want to be like your Mum”, yet enlightening if you are open-minded to reflect yourself. You might then little by little start experimenting to devirt your originally intended reaction – and if you succeed it is liberating, aliviating and you’re ultimately proud of yourself. Actually an approach which might help you in other conflictuous situations as well, I’ve tried, I try and keep on trying. It simply makes you feel good, don’t we all want to feel good?

  2. Hertha says:

    I love the distinction of the mirror. I guess it is scary for many of us to recognize that in many aspects our moms are the mirror of who we are. We see something we don’t want to see and we feel something we don’t want to feel. There is only one way out of this dilemma. Embrace what you see and who you are and don’t blame the mirror!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>