What to do to avoid mother-daughter conflicts?

What to do to avoid mother-daughter conflicts?

In childhood and adolescence, stubbornness with parents is considered normal and part of developmental stages. Although the mother-daughter relationship becomes partly cloudy from puberty, mothers often hope to get through this by accepting it as a part of puberty. However, there is still a conflict between mothers and daughters when they reach adulthood. “We argue a lot with my mother” Problems that are heard as “My daughter doesn’t listen to me” are also experienced in stages such as university age, marriage and even motherhood, and relationships are damaged. Mother-daughter bickering doesn’t listen to age or life experience.

Tensions between mothers and adult daughters are an almost universal problem and have been the subject of studies by scientists in America. In a joint research conducted by 3 universities in the USA, family relations and the situation of mothers and daughters getting along were discussed. According to the study examining the relationships of adult boys and girls between the ages of 22 and 49 with their parents; Although the problems experienced in the family vary according to gender, age and cultural origin, it has been determined that there is a visibly higher tension between mothers and daughters. It has also been determined that tensions disrupt the quality of the relationship and the spirit of solidarity between them.

One of the most important findings of the research is that such tensions affect people more than their personal problems… Tensions in mother-daughter relationships increase people’s feelings of being less supported. In addition, there is uncertainty and, accordingly, a constant uneasiness. A lower sense of emotional solidarity creates a brake on progress in life and undermines self-confidence.

The parent-child relationship is one of the longest-lasting and emotionally intense types of social relationships between two people. This relationship, which is expected to be supportive and positive, can become uncomfortable for both parties. In this type of relationship, especially when it comes to the child’s feelings towards the mother, ambivalence, that is, the coexistence of opposing feelings, can be seen frequently. Even in a relationship that is considered sacred, such as a mother-child relationship, love and hate can be intertwined. Of course, it is not easy to recognize and accept these feelings from the eyes of a child. As a result, the tensions are not good for anyone. Fighting with the mother or fighting with the daughter is disturbing for both parties, even as an idea.

  • The most basic problem in experiencing conflict is that the character structures that parents bring from their childhood continue into adulthood and even become permanent. It is possible to say that parents who approach their children repeat their own childhood and their relationships with their parents without realizing it.

  • After recognizing feelings, the task of transforming the relationship often falls to those in the role of son. While they continue to be responsible for their own life and, if any, their children, there are issues and tasks to consider for their aging parents. Women try to find a balance between being a child, a parent and an independent individual.

  • As the results of the research show, experiencing opposing feelings in a relationship that needs solidarity causes imbalance in people. The relationship between mother and daughter whose chemistry is broken; It can be dragged into a crisis during challenging periods such as marriage, childbirth and illness. If the mother-daughter in a close relationship is still experiencing fundamental disagreements, she may be injured in major life tests.

According to some scientific theories, these conflicts are inherent in the relationship and become inevitable because there are inconsistencies in the developmental needs of parents and children. One of the things that characterizes the parent-child bond is the child’s independence in their ability to care for themselves and the emphasis placed on the relationship. When the child claims his independence, it may be met with a reaction from the parent. Disobeying the parent’s word can also be perceived by the parent as not giving importance to the relationship. First of all, the parent has to accept that the person is now an adult, even if they have a child. In this sense, parents have a role to play. On the children’s side, protecting individual spaces seems necessary for an adult to claim their own life. Individual space is also needed to overcome conflict easily and stay calm.

In some cases, the tension of individuals is reflected in the relationship and creates the tension of the relationship itself. Relationship tensions often include unsolicited advice, frequent contact, personality differences, differences in parenting, and past relationship problems. Individual tensions include work/education issues, financial issues, household chores, lifestyle, bodily-spiritual needs, and health. Parents invest emotionally as well as financially in the relationship with their children. Therefore, their emotional expectations from their children, who become adults, are also revealed. But their children, who have become independent adults, struggle to meet their parents’ expectations that remain constant throughout their lives. When the individual needs and the needs of the relationship come together, it creates tension. Parental understanding is needed at this point.

George Washington University academician P. Lakshmin argues in his “family systems theory” that families have a balance and each person serves to keep the family system intact. She says that mothers often have conflicts with their children in order to preserve this family system. He states that adults, regardless of their position in their lives, encounter behaviors aimed at protecting this structure when they go to their parents’ house. There is a similar situation in the Turkish family structure. The subject draws attention as it is also on the agenda in different cultures. prof. Lakshmin has some suggestions for women who often have conflicts when reuniting with their mother;

  • When you are going to meet with your mother, be prepared in advance. If certain topics trigger discussion, have other news that will change the subject. For example, if something happens at the dinner table every time, do not repeat the same environment. If you are in a tense period, try to come together in different environments.

  • Although you expect your mother to show empathy, it can be hard to see. Try to empathize too. Your mother was once the child of a mother, and she set out with the motherhood she saw from her mother. Your time and the environment you lived in was very different from the environment in which your mother was born and raised. The most typical mother-daughter interaction includes this dynamic and it should be taken into account.

  • According to Lakshmin, the main problem is with the use of language. He advises grandparents to “bite your tongue” and adds: “The suggestion of even the most well-intentioned can be perceived as criticism. Adult girls, on the other hand, should express that the suggestions sound like criticism to them. Still, it can be comforting to remember that they received these suggestions because they were cared for. The grandmothers whose opinions I spoke to actually just want to help.”

  • Don’t expect big changes the first time you show a significant reaction to your mother. Expecting big changes in a short time can be disappointing. It is not a realistic expectation that the behavioral patterns in the relationship that have been knitted over the years will suddenly change. Communication is the key word though. The relationship between mother and daughter based on years includes both sincerity and distance due to the tensions experienced. The way to improve this is open and clear communication.

Even an ordinary question sentence of mothers can be perceived as criticism by adult daughters. “You wore it? Linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, author of “Understanding mother-daughter dialogues”, points out that mothers and daughters have conflicts, especially when it comes to raising children. Young mothers interviewed during the writing of the book state that they are open to anything but criticism about their mothering skills.

Mothers and daughters seem to always remain a topic of universal debate. Clinical psychologist Harriet Lerner, the author of the book “The Dance of Anger”, which has also been translated into Turkish, suggests small breaks to escape the anger that develops in the environment. Overcoming the anger wave and putting emotional distance with some measures that will create space for yourself, such as spending 10 minutes in the bathroom, is an example of a simple but useful method. Regardless of nationality and age group, mothers and daughters have difficulty balancing their relationships as much as they love each other. The solution again seems to be the language of understanding, empathy and love.

Compiled and translated by: Senem Tahmaz


Jessica Goose (2019). “Your mom is destined to annoy you”. Şuradan alındı: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/parenting/your-mom-is-destined-to-annoy-you.html

Kira S.Birditt (2019). “Tensions in the Parent and Adult Child Relationships: Link to Solidarity and Ambivalance”. Şuradan alındı: Psychol Aging. 2009 Jun; 24(2): 287–295.

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