15 Insights on Improving Mother-Daughter Relationships

3. Have realistic expectations.

Both moms and daughters often have idealistic expectations about their relationship. For instance, kids commonly think their mom will be nurturing and present — always. This idea can develop from an early age. When her kids were young, Mintle found herself setting up this unrealistic belief during their nightly reading time. She’d read a book about a mama bunny who rescued her son every time he ventured out and tried a risky activity, such as sailing or mountain-climbing.Relationships Relationships Relationships Relationships Relationships

4. Communicate.

Lack of communication is a common challenge with moms and daughters. “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,” Cohen-Sandler said. “What happens as a result is they don’t communicate.” Or they communicate harshly, in ways they’d never “dare speak to everyone else,” which causes hurt feelings that “don’t go away so easily,” she said.

Because moms and daughters aren’t mind readers, be clear and calmly state how you’re feeling. Also, speak your “mind in a very heartfelt but gentle manner.” Is your mom treating you like a child? Simply say, “Mom, you’re not treating me like an adult.”Relationships Relationships Relationships Relationships Relationships

5. Be an active listener.

Active listening is “reflecting back what the other person is saying,” instead of assuming you already know, Cohen-Sandler said. When you reflect back what your mom or daughter is saying, you’re telling her that she’s being heard and that you understand.Relationships Relationships Relationships Relationships Relationships

Also, listen “to the feelings underlying the message,” which is often the real message, she said. If “mom says, ‘you’re acting like a doormat,’ the daughter hears that as being horribly critical [and that she’s not good enough], but what the mom is really saying is, ‘I feel so protective of you because you’re not protecting yourself.’”

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