When Mother-Daughter Relationships Get Complicated and How To Strengthen Your Bond

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There’s no bond quite like that of a mother and a daughter. Outside of the obvious fact that women go through unique experiences that men physically cannot, mothers and daughters share a complex relationship that requires its own careful form of nurturing. 

“As women we identify with our mothers more than our fathers. We look to our moms to learn how to handle things and who we should be in this world. They are our first role models,” explained clinical psychologist Dr. Jamie Wernsman to The Zoe Report in 2018. 

Begin the Healing Process With a Conversation 

It’s this exact reasoning that can make it all the more difficult when we don’t feel close or connected to our mothers — which can obviously happen for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps your mother raised you under unusual or distinctive circumstances. Maybe she did so by herself. Maybe she’s not a particularly open person. Whatever the situation, Wersnman suggests that the best way to mend or better a weakened mother-daughter relationship can be by simply having a conversation.

“This can be very helpful in terms of healing,” says Dr. Wernsman. “The individual needs to think about what her mother did or did not do and how to communicate this to her… “It’s good to understand that your mother is only human and probably did her very best, but it’s also important for her to acknowledge the hurt you’re feeling.”

Learn To Identify Toxicity 

Having a healthy relationship with your mother — a relationship identified as one “that demonstrates love, even in the face of conflict” by MindIsTheMaster.com — is often much easier to see than having a dysfunctional one, meaning you may not even know there’s something that needs fixing or can be fixed. Bustle defines a “toxic” mother-daughter relationship as having a mom who dismisses your negative feelings, doesn’t respect boundaries, is cruel, among other things; so, how do you mend a relationship built on such animosity? 

Lean on Support 

Therapist Heidi McBain LMFT told Bustle that she suggests therapy as it “can be a great place to process your feelings surrounding the home life you grew up in, come to terms with your mom’s possible mental health issues, and learn to not blame yourself for someone else’s unhealthy behaviors."

The Bottom Line

If communicating on your own or via a therapist is still not working for you, other tools we’d recommend include seeking out common interests your mom or daughter share, setting boundaries, and working on listening — a hearing — what the other is saying. 

Tags: Communication, Motherhood, parenting

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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