Whether you are a mother, daughter or an innocent bystander – when sparks fly between a mother and a daughter – you better watch out.
Mothers and daughters know each other’s weakest spots; exactly which buttons to press and which comments will cut to the bone.
We also know how to make things right for each other, how to comfort each other and what to say and when not to say it.
But why is this relationship such a potential minefield?
I feel it’s because a mother often sees her daughter as an extension of herself. Maybe even her second chance do things again, better, with experience and hindsight.
A mother wants to protect her daughter from making the same mistakes she’s made. She wants to give her daughter opportunities she never had.
I certainly know from my upbringing – my mother would often say she wanted me to have what she didn’t have growing up.
I feel, a mother wants her daughter to like her and maybe be a little like her too, even though we don’t always admit to this.
The trouble with all that of course is daughters are not an extension of their mothers – they are their own person, with a unique mind-set and journey…
I was historically quite smug about my relationship with my daughter. Up to her 16th birthday, she was completely straightforward – no terrible twos, threes or twelves. We were close – ski weekends and trips to Rome – just the two of us.
But at 16, things changed dramatically. We disagreed A LOT. She seemed to actively push against things I would do or say. I knew she was becoming independent and carving out her own way of living, but I wondered why our charmed relationship had to change?
The last few years have been challenging at times. But now my daughter is 18 I could not be more proud. She is absolutely her own person. She is independent, opinionated, determined, committed, intelligent and vibrant.
Her life and outlook are in many ways completely different to mine – but quite right too.
I am sure we have more challenges coming our way. As a mother, well, actually as me, I find it almost impossible to keep my mouth shut sometimes. But after an unpredictable few years, our relationship is pretty great.
We are not in each others’ pockets as much as I would like (!) but we still understand each other in a way that is particular to us.
I feel mothers, sometimes subconsciously and unfairly expect too much from their girls – even though we say we don’t – maybe it is hardwired somewhere and won’t really change.
But – as mothers, we could be more mindful of this and as daughters we could cut our mothers a little slack.
For me as daughter, I still find it hard to go against something my mother has said even if I don’t agree with it and sometimes I end up resenting the situation.
My daughter, however, armed with her modern day voice and an arsenal of choices does not hesitate to shoot me down if need be.
I guess the last few years have been really eye opening with respect to my relationship with my daughter and how we move forwards. I have learnt that I can’t “make” her do or be anything she doesn’t want to be. And to be honest, I wouldn’t really want her to…. so I can’t really complain, can I?