The relationship between a mother and daughter can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be very complicated too.
If you look around, you’ll see a wide variety of mother-daughter relationships in this world. There are some adult daughters who visit with their mom regularly, while others only do so on holidays. Some mom and daughter pairs talk like they’re best friends, and there are those who can’t have a conversation without getting into an argument. The list goes on and on.
Fortunately, there’s excellent advice for moms and daughters to help improve their relationship – regardless of the type they have. Psych Central compiled a list of tips from professionals that can help with communication and reducing conflict.
1. Makes your own changes.
Some believe the only chance of their relationship improving would be if their mom or daughter changed their behavior. But according to marriage and family therapist Dr. Linda Mintle, who’s also the author of the book, I Love My Mother, But… Practical Help to Get the Most Out of Your Relationship, you’re able to make changes to your own personal responses and reactions. A relationship can be altered by doing so. She suggests to picture it to be like a “dance.” If one party alters their dance-steps, the overall dance changes as well.
2. Practice communication.
A lot of mothers and daughters are lacking communication, which can be a struggle in their relationship. Psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D., who also co-authored I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You! A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict, explained:
“In some ways they can be so close or feel so close that they believe that each of them should know how the other one feels. What happens as a result is they don’t communicate.”
Or, another result is that the communication can be negative, where they’re speaking in harsh ways and unlike how they’d speak to others. This can lead to feelings being hurt which according to Dr. Cohen-Sandler “don’t go away so easily.”
Being that people aren’t able to read minds, moms and daughters should be open and communicate their feelings. Another suggestion is to do so “in a very heartfelt but gentle manner.”
3. Find it in yourself to forgive.
Another tip covered in Psych Central’s article has to do with forgiveness. According to Dr. Mintle, it’s “an individual act.” Reconciliation requires both parties (which isn’t possible all the time), so it’s different. Allowing yourself to forgive doesn’t mean that whatever took place is okay. She also said that it’s not pardoning, condoning, or making light of ‘the impact.’
Forgiveness is important for your health’s sake. Mintle shared:
“I’m constantly telling daughters you have to forgive your mom in order to be healthy … The power of forgiveness is really for the person who forgives.”
In addition, she pointed out:
“The better you can forgive, the better you can repair damage quickly.”
4. Concentrate on the present and not the past.
Dr. Cohen-Sandler said that daughters and their mothers can have “an old argument that runs like a broken record in the background.” So instead of “bringing up” and focusing on past arguments – both individuals should try and stay in the present.
5. Accept that you won’t always agree on everything.
There are numerous topics that mothers and daughters don’t always see eye to eye on – from parenting and relationships to careers. Dr. Cohen-Sandler said that they typically try and get the other person to switch their opinion. On one hand, a mom feels upset and ‘rejected’ that her daughter is making a different choice. Then on the other, a daughter believes her mother is disapproving of her, which leads to defensiveness.
It’s important to accept that you’re not going to agree on certain topics. That’s completely fine too. She said:
“…it’s really healthy for moms and daughters to have major disagreements.”
Another piece of advice from the psychologist is to not take “something personally that isn’t personal.” Dr. Cohen-Sandler also explained:
“The bottom line is that moms and daughters can be really close but they’re not the same people. [They’re] allowed to have different interests, goals and ways of handling things.”
6. The first move is one you should make.
You shouldn’t wait for your mom or daughter to ‘make the first move,’ which can leave a relationship in a halted position. Dr. Mintle provided the following advice.
“Think about how you feel in the relationship and what you can do to change.”
Hopefully, these useful tips will help lead you to a more positive and healthy relationship with your mom or daughter! You can find even more on Psych Central’s list as well.
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