A mother and daughter relationship is one of the most precious relationships in the world. However, it can be tricky and complicated to maneuver, especially as the daughter grows older and starts to have a life of her own. A mother’s love and protection for teaching her child how to be a better daughter can easily be misunderstood.
Luckily, there is expert advice we can take on how we can improve that mother-daughter bonding. Psych Central compiled a list of tips from professionals that can help strengthen a daughter-mother bond, especially in improving communication and reducing conflict.
Practice communication in a mother and daughter 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:
Many mothers and daughters lack communication, which can be a struggle in their relationship.
“In some ways, they can be so close or feel so close that they believe 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, unlike how they’d talk to others.
This can lead to feelings being hurt, which according to Dr. Cohen-Sandler, “don’t go away so easily.”
Since people can’t 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.”
Make your changes
Some believe the only chance of their mother-daughter 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 picturing it to be like a “dance.” If one party alters their dance steps, the overall dance changes.
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 it’s not pardoning, condoning, or making light of ‘the impact.’
Forgiveness is essential 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 that:
“The better you can forgive, the better you can repair the damage quickly.”
Accept that you won’t always agree on everything
There are numerous topics that a mommy and daughter don’t always see eye to eye on – from parenting and relationships to careers.
Dr. Cohen-Sandler said they typically try to 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 disapproves of her, which leads to defensiveness.
It’s important to accept that you’re not going to agree on certain topics, and 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 not to 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.”
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.
We hope these tips from professionals help strengthen most mother and daughter relationships out there. Your journey will not be perfect, but if you take time and exert effort for the people you love, your mother-daughter relationship will grow stronger each day.