Mothers And Daughters – The Untold Story

difficult relationship with mother brightonWhat is it with mothers and daughters? Why does this particular relationship so often appear complicated and full of misunderstanding, resentment and emotional pain – especially at the time when young women begin to struggle for independence from their family-of-origin? I’m not even going to attempt to answer these questions, but here are a few thoughts on the subject that might spark some debate.
Recently, I have discovered the American writer, Elizabeth Strout. I read a review of her Pulitzer prize-winning novel ‘Olive Kitteridge’ in one of the Sunday papers and having devoured that in more-or-less one sitting, decided to try some of her other, earlier work. That led me to her novel, ‘Amy and Isabelle’, the story of a single mother and her only daughter and what happened to them one hot summer in a small US town. I won’t give the plot away here, but suffice to say as a study of a mother and daughter struggling to understand and separate from each other, I found the novel engrossing and insightful.
In contrast to an abundance of tales about young men going out into the world, there aren’t many stories around about healthy ways for daughters to separate themselves from their mothers (and I include here mother figures) – and, at the same time, for mothers to let their daughters go. I believe that both of these actions are required if each party is to feel comfortable enough moving from their old relationship of parent and dependent child, to a new one as two interdependent adults with differing experiences, ambitions and values. Both mother and daughter have to shift their position in terms of influence and power to achieve this.
Exploring our thoughts and feelings about important relationships with a trusted therapist can go some way to increasing our understanding of the other, maybe healing old resentments and even casting a whole new meaning over what it is to be a mother, father, daughter or son.
Postscript 1: For more thoughts on this subject, see my later post ‘How To Deal With A ‘Difficult’ Mother’ (1st November 2014)
Postscript 2: If you live outside of the Brighton area, see my page on Mother & Daughter Relationships for information regarding finding a therapist to help with difficulties between mothers and daughters.
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at