Navigating the mother-daughter relationship

Navigating the mother-daughter relationship

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Many mothers and daughters endure a fractious relationship without thinking about the active effort they could be making to improve it. All too often blame gets in the way and before you know it, you''re in a stand-off whether neither party will volunteer to back down. It''s important to remember that it isn''t about backing down though, it''s about understanding each other''s point of view and working out a way to compromise.

Mothers and daughters fight over all sorts of things. Perhaps one disapproves of the other''s lifestyle, or one feels the other is too critical of them. It''s a really tricky, delicate relationship to balance and if not nurtured, can be damaged beyond repair. That''s why it''s important that as soon as a problem arises, both parties take the time to sit down and discuss the issues.

As anyone who has attended family-specific counselling courses will tell you, there is often no substitute for communication. One involved party could be really angry about something, but it may be that the other person simply doesn''t realise what they have done to cause such anger. They could be emotionally unintelligent or insensitive, or they may just not be a very insightful person. In fact, if the aggrieved party has showed no external signs of being angry, how could the accused be expected to know there is something wrong?

The first step is to sit down (perhaps in a neutral setting) and just talk. The upset party should explain why they feel that way; what it is that triggered it and how they feel it could best be resolved. The accused could then say how the upset makes them feel and what their response is to the specific accusation. If they feel they can meet the terms of the proposed accusation then great; if not, they can think about what they would do to make the situation right.

Another thing both parties need to consider is how they can change themselves in order to benefit the situation. How can you change your attitude? Instead of focusing on what the other person is doing wrong, think about how best you could accommodate their needs via a change in your approach to your relationship. Don''t forget to keep listening, either. Don''t dismiss each other''s feelings as being silly or unfounded. A person cannot help the way they feel, so instead of saying "don''t be ridiculous", accept the feeling and try to understand how you can help adapt it.