The mother-daughter relationship can be a complicated one—it’s the reason that it’s the central relationship in many popular television shows. Women can just relate to a complex, frustrating mother-daughter dynamic. Is it just me or, do men not have quite as confusing and infuriating relationships with their fathers? Perhaps fathers don’t see themselves in their sons as much as mothers see themselves in their daughters, and visa versa. Maybe the mirroring effect is just stronger between mother and daughter and so what a daughter does affects her mother greatly, and what a mother does touches her daughter deeply. All I know is that I see far more love-hate relationships between moms and daughters than I do between fathers and sons. It can be a very hot and cold one—the bond between two generations of women. But, here are some perspective changes that could improve your relationship with your mother.
She stressed for 18 years to keep you alive
Remember that for the first 18 years of your life, it was your mother’s full-time job to keep you alive and see to your health. You were under her roof and under her watch. For both legal and just strong biological/emotional reasons, she lived, 24/7, to make sure you lived and lived healthfully.
She can’t just quit stressing
With the last point in mind, can’t you see that it might be hard for your mom to just stop looking after your health once you’re over the age of 18? Just because she can’t tell you to eat healthier or quit cigarettes doesn’t mean that, in any way, it is easy for her to be silent when she watches you make unhealthy decisions. No—she can’t tell you how to live your life anymore. But understand that that change is very unnatural to her.
Your partner has to be the best caretaker
If she’s critical of your partner, it’s only because she sees him as taking over her role. Your partner will now be the one living with you, caring for you when you’re sick, and looking over your emotional wellbeing. That used to be your mom’s job. Anyone is critical of the person who takes over their role.
If he isn’t, she’ll gladly take over
Now that you know your mom holds your partner to the same standards of caretaking that she holds herself, then you know that if he drops the ball even for a second, she’s ready to swoop in and take over. That’s why she’s hard on your romantic partners. That’s why she watches them like a hawk. She just wants to make sure somebody steps in if they stop taking care of you.
When you lost a boss, she lost her world
The day you moved out of her home, you feel like you lost a boss. You no longer had someone breathing down your neck and monitoring your every move and decision. You felt liberated. But your mom—she felt lost. You lost a boss, but she lost her whole world.
So let her be the boss sometimes
Having your child become an adult—and an independent one who never needs her and barely calls all that often—is a big, difficult transition. It’s not one made overnight. So, just let your mom still tell you what to do sometimes. Wear the outfit she suggests for your interview. Who does it hurt when you do that? Nobody. But it does your mom a world of good.
Caring too much is better than the alternative
You may feel like your mom is too much in your business but imagine a world in which your mom did not care what you did. Imagine a world in which, sure, your mom didn’t try to coach you for a job interview, but she also didn’t comfort you when that interview didn’t go well because she overall doesn’t care. That’s a chilling thought, right?
Accept all sides of the care
If you want a mother who will comfort you after breakups and coddle you when you need it, then you need to accept all sides of the caring coin. And the other sides are when she tries to tell you who to date and what to wear. You can’t pick and choose when and how she cares.
Your distance is more painful than her critiques
Unfortunately, when mothers are too critical of their daughters, sometimes their daughters just pull away. It can be very damaging to the relationship. It would serve both individuals do know how the other feels and now, speaking to you the daughter, I’ll say that when you pull away from your mother, it hurts her 100 times more than any little criticism she gave ever hurt you.
So just let her make her comments
If you must choose between being in your mom’s life and accepting critique, or removing yourself from your mother’s life, stay in her life. Let her make her comments. Pulling away isn’t fair—the punishment to her doesn’t fit her crime of simply caring.
Everyone thinks they’re right
Just so you know, each of you feels like you are 100 percent correct. When your mom tries to instruct you on how to live your life, she feels totally justified in doing so—she’s your mother. When you tell her to back off because you’re an adult, you feel totally justified in saying so because, well, being told what to do sucks.
So maybe you’re both a little wrong
So, if you know both of you feel completely right all of the time then maybe you can be open to the possibility that both of you are a little wrong. Your mom probably could back off a little. But you could also probably recognize that she will always be your mom. She gave you life—she gets a say in how you live it.
You won’t have your mom forever
Whatever fight you keep having over and over again, just remember that you don’t even get to have that fight forever. One day, you won’t have your mother anymore. Maybe waste less time on fighting. Stop holding out for some agreement that isn’t coming. Maybe compromise a little so you can enjoy your time together.
When she’s gone, you’ll miss her—how she was
When your mom is gone, you’ll miss her so badly, that you’ll wish you could have her back just as she was. You’d gladly have her back for a day, even if she just criticized you the whole day.
How would you want your daughter to be?
Whenever you say or do anything to your mother, ask yourself how you’d feel if your daughter did or said that to you. It’s a very valuable exercise.