Mother-daughter relationships are complex; from the moment an expecting mother hears the words “it’s a girl,” something inside her changes.
Sometimes for the better, often, not so much.
According to Rosjke Hasseldine, an experienced relationship counselor and author of “Uncovering the Root Cause of Mother-daughter Conflict,” the reason why many mother-daughter relationships are strained is because of the societal expectations surrounding women-to-girl interpersonal relationships and communication.
Hasseldine found women struggle with the relationship that they develop specifically towards their daughters because of the nearly impossible standards that the world places at the hem of girls’ feet.
The mother herself can impose these high standards to live vicariously through the child or by past traumas being transferred generationally via the womb.
Although it’s difficult to pinpoint where in history the first mother-daughter debacle took place, it’s safe to say that if this Mother’s Day brings up bad feelings that you have towards your mom, you fall into the category of what Hasseldine calls “the mother-daughter puzzle.”
But how exactly do we put the pieces back together?
Coming from someone who had somewhat of a strained relationship with their mom, I know firsthand of the frustrations that come with fixing a broken connection seemingly from birth.
As an adult daughter, I had to learn how to forgive my mother for what she took out on me. I had to learn how to sort out my feelings towards her by going to therapy, asking questions, and preparing myself to do the work, even if that meant doing it alone.
Motherhood is a sacrifice.
Whether we understand it or not, motherhood is a sacrifice.
There were things that she had to give up to raise you; for my mom, it was her independence as well as her education.
For other moms, it may have been their career, external interests, or relationships. Understanding that she was a girl just like you with big hopes and dreams puts things into perspective.
Healing through forgiveness
Practicing forgiveness helps us remain spiritually connected and allows us to rid ourselves of any resentment that we place on others, especially our mothers.
The first step in forgiveness is acknowledging what was done.
Often, we give loved ones a free pass to hurt us without acknowledging our own feelings. If you want to establish a healthy adult relationship with your mother or mother-like figure, start calling attention to previous transgressions.
If recalling history is too painful of a place to cite, try these additional steps to help you forgive:
- Repair the parts of the relationship that are broken
- Learn what forgiveness will look like for you moving forward
- Consider her side of the story
- Determine whether or not you are ready to forgive her today, next month, year, etc.
- Accept that you cannot change the past, but you can effectively work on your mom’s relationship with your mom moving forward.