Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mother Nature

Sunshine, pink peonies, soft white bunnies and baby chicks. A true Hallmark mother and daughter moment. What? You don’t skip hand in hand along the grassy knoll with your mother? That’s odd, you must be different. Ok, so neither do I, but I am grateful to have a solid relationship with my mum which I am told makes me a very lucky person.

I am surrounded by a number of friends whose relationship with their mums is fraught with dissension, anger, bitterness and disappointment. These women may have been betrayed by others, but the dysfunction they experience in their mother-daughter relationship carries the most damage of all, and, as a result the price for this rage is paid for by other un-suspecting relationships in their life.

This is nothing new. And, what is confronting for most women is the fact we are all daughters. Our mothers were once on the other end of the stick and if she isn’t living up to our expectations, you can’t help but wonder what did our mothers envisage their relationship to be like with their own daughters?

It is unlikely a mother holding a newborn daughter thinks “gee, I can’t wait to screw you up and have the most volatile relationship with you in the future.” No, likely a mother holding a newborn ponders how much she loves and wants to protect this new little vulnerable life, and if you’re anything like me, think upon future tea parties, tiny pink dresses and patent leather shoes.

So where does it go wrong? That’s a question no one can definitively answer, but chances are if your mother sustained dysfunction in the relationship with her own mother, un-dealt with, those insecurities and hurts often get carried through to the next generation. It is also probable that a daughter of a good mother-daughter relationship can take for granted the work that goes into building an enduring friendship with her own daughter.

If you are sailing the boat of mother dissatisfaction, you might want to know a few facts. Paula Caplan, author of Mother Blaming writes:

If you’re busy blaming your mother or wishing you could “divorce” her, you are caught in a psychological prison. You can’t get free, and you can’t really grow up. Mother-blame limits your freedom: you can’t be an adult who freely considers all of life’s possibilities. You restrict yourself to certain activities, interests, and friends to prove how different from Mother you are.

You can’t look honestly at who you are, because you might discover ways that you are like her! Frantic to avoid what you consider her failures, you overreact, throwing out the good with the bad: you grow tough because you think she’s sentimental, or you become a doormat because she wasn’t warm enough. All that reaction against her, that desperate drive to prove your difference, restricts and damages your relationships with the other people you love—your mate, your children, your other relatives, and your friends. You offer them only a part of your true self, a caricature.
Nothing stellar comes without solid planning and hard work. The good news is you have the power to ensure YOUR relationship with YOUR daughter is nothing less than the best. So....may I ask what does your relationship look like with your daughter presently and in the future? What are you plans and strategies to work towards this and to keep on track? If you’re harbouring resentment towards your own mother, what are doing to unload that? Friends, we have the opportunity for a wonderful life, live it to the fullest.


  1. Amy this is profound. Thank you. Personally I have had to nurture and restore the relationship with my Mum. She was a v bitter lady and due to many incredible circumstances chose to remain that way. Thank God, literally, for His grace towards me thus showing me to do the same to others, and in this case my Mum.

    I have always been able to see the "gold" within my Mum and now after many years she calls me her "best friend". She confides in me and we share many happy, private, special moments.

    Restoration won't happen overnight, but it can happen as you chose to respond differently to your Mum and continue to offer the hand of love and grace. And I'm sure the same happens with your own daughters (of which I have none - just sons)

    Oh that reminds me of a fabulous John Mayer song. Lyrics: "Girls become lovers who turn into mothers. So mothers, be good to your daughters too :o)

  2. Anonymous06 May, 2010

    Thanks - what an awesome article!!!