The mother-daughter relationship-psychology

How a difficult relationship with her mother affects the life of an adult daughter

We grow up, mature, become independent, have our own families, but we are still children to our parents. What are the peculiarities of mother-daughter interaction after a child comes of age? We tell you what we take with us from childhood into independent life and why the relationship with mom is so important for adult daughters, both in the past and in the present.

Natalia Popova (@migwomen) is a psychologist, author of the MigLife female project, a speaker at Skolkovo, a mother of three and a teenager.

Natalia Popova is a psychologist, author of the MigLife women’s project, a speaker at Skolkovo, and a mother of triplets and a teenager with many children.

Mothers are the closest and dearest people, one sings songs about her love and devotes the warmest words to her. And to talk about the difficulties in the relationship with his mother, to be unhappy with her at least is not accepted.

Unspoken position in our society: the relationship with mom should be good, mom should be loved, accepted and respected as she is. And if you can’t, if you’re angry at your mother, if you get irritated, then you’re a bad daughter.

And many girls forbid themselves to feel what they feel, to block out negative emotions about their mother. All of this is reinforced by remorse and guilt.

To leave the situation as it is means to systematically destroy yourself.

All the unspoken and accumulated will one day burst out or corrode you from the inside.

This approach does not lead to a happy life.

The only way out here is to work through the situation with your mother, to get to the level of adult-adult relations. It is impossible to do this if psychologically the child’s position has been frozen, if for some reason the separation has not been passed.

It is also common to meet mothers with a complicated character, their own specifics in behavior and reactions, and it seems impossible to find an approach to such a person, the situation cannot be solved. But the mother-daughter relationship has its own keys to family well-being.

How to determine that the relationship with my mother is not in harmony

Check if any of these points fit the description of what is happening in your life?

In communication, you often feel guilty and think you are a bad daughter.

As a child, you were constantly compared to others, and not to your advantage.

Mom is still excessively controlling you, actively interferes in your life.

No matter what you did, mom will still nag that everything is wrong.

With others mom is always cheerful, joyful, and with you she is unhappy, stressed out.

Mom forces you to be actively involved in her life: drop your business and run to her at the first request.

In conversations, mom only talks about herself and her life.

You depend on her mood, you have to pick up the words, a hundred times to think before you say them. Try to predict the reactions.

Mom never understood and does not share your interests, does not support you in your endeavors.

You have to give up your plans and ideas, to make decisions to your detriment, so as not to upset and offend mom.

You do not understand yourself, your true desires, you do not know where to move forward.

And there can be many variations of such descriptions. How many items on this list are about you?

The presence of the described manifestations in your life indicates that the separation has not passed and there is no harmony, love and understanding in the mother-daughter relationship.

Why does an adult daughter hold grudges against her mother?

Even if your mother died or you were raised by your grandmother, the internal relationship with the maternal figure does not go anywhere. In the back of our minds, we still have a dialogue or hide the situation in the unconscious, if it’s painful for us. But the problem does not go away.

This perception is inherent in childhood. When a child doesn’t understand the situation, can’t deal with his feelings, doesn’t have enough internal resources to survive what’s happening painlessly, the psyche is forced to turn on its defense.

Insult is a mechanism that shields us from external events, allows us to hide from traumatic experiences.

Keeping emotions bottled up inside is a very energy-consuming process. We can pretend that all is well, that the situation does not affect us, but inside will boil anger, irritation, I want to cry, run away. The main thing is to be honest with yourself. Reactions suggest that something is wrong, the situation is tense, unpleasant. And here it’s important to understand why.

Resentment of my mother is one of the most difficult experiences.

It is both a connection with childhood, where there was a feeling of a defenseless little child, and a sense of guilt, because my mother can not be offended.

According to the decisive factor of resentment against mom can be divided into 4 categories:

  1. Disagreeing with the way mom lived her life: living on the job, not paying attention, abusing alcohol, and so on.

⠀ 2. Disagree with the kind of wife she was: scandals, quarrels, divorce, manipulation and provocation by mom. ⠀ 3. Disagree with her attitude towards you: how she showed love, tenderness, lack of support, and so on. ⠀ 4. Disagree with her attitude toward close relatives: injustice, humiliation, and so on.

Many do not seek to change, to improve the relationship with his mother, because they believe that it is impossible, that mom will always remain in the role of the mother, and you in the role of the little girl. And you just have to put up with it.

But by doing so you deprive yourself of the opportunity to live a rich life, to realize yourself in different spheres.

Unresolved issues imprint on all aspects of our lives.

How a difficult relationship with her mother affects the life of an adult daughter

1. Difficulties in the relationship with her partner

The most striking manifestations here are no relationship at all or it doesn’t work out the way we would like it to. The incomplete separation with the mother is transferred to the partner.

Disillusionment in men, dissatisfaction with their behavior can also be pronounced here.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we do not always choose as partners people similar in character to our parents.

Psychological transference works differently: we choose people who make us feel familiar.

By adulthood we have already formed a certain strategy of behavior in this world, we have learned reactions. And we choose what is familiar to us. We see our partner not as a separate independent person, but as a reflection of what is going on inside of us.

Expectations also fall under projections and transference: we unconsciously strive to receive what we did not receive in childhood: we demand love, care, become a little girl.

Or vice versa – we become a parent to our partner: we treat him/her as a child, scold him/her for not earning enough money, littering, going to bed late, not taking care of his/her food.

A person who has not undergone separation cannot build a partnership on an equal footing.

All the time there will be a bias to one side or the other.

Plus, without separating, without seeing ourselves as individuals, we copy the model of behavior of the family we grew up in. We transfer our resentments, fears, expectations and defense systems from my mother to my husband.

2. Problems in my relationship with my children

Are you familiar with the situation when you remember your childhood, some words and actions of your parents and mentally promise that you will never act that way toward your children?

And then the peak comes, emotions overflow, and it turns out that you swear just like your mother, using the same words, comparisons, expressions.

And at this point, we understand the feelings and condition of the child, but can not stop himself. And this vicious circle will be repeated over and over again, until we cut our own umbilical cord and enter the big world as a mature, self-sufficient individual.

Psychological maturity does not depend on age: you can be an elderly grandmother and still be an unseparated child – have childlike reactions, expectations, a way of interacting with the world.

Just because people got married, got married, became parents does not automatically make them adults. Only awareness of one’s own actions and serious inner workout.

3. Problems with Self-Realization, Career

Here two opposite sides meet:

One hundred percent concentration on career, achieving, and vice versa – a complete lack of self-realization.

In the first case, it does not matter whether this woman is married or not, whether she has children. All the same she is dependent on achievements, success. If there are children, then superimposed internal conflict: my mother feels guilty that he pays little attention to them, wants to give her children only the best, to fill the void, which, in fact, she herself experiences. But all the resources go into the career, and the experience remains to eat away at the inside.

The other extreme, when a woman completely rejects the idea of self-realization – left in the care of the house, the family, she is afraid to act, make decisions. She is constantly looking back at the opinion of loved ones, girlfriends. And if she still works, even a stern look from the head makes her very nervous.

She does not believe in themselves and their strength, trying to please everyone. But in the end she feels like a squeezed lemon: complete emptiness and no satisfaction with life.

4. The constant lack of money

The amount of money in our purse depends not so much on how many hours a day we work, but on our perception, our approach: how we feel in relation to this world.

To be stuck in a child’s position is to shut ourselves off from money. In a child’s world, there is no money, he doesn’t need it.

The same remains true as an adult.

Ask yourself, what word can you use to characterize your relationship with your mother? Does the same adjective apply to your relationship with money?

If you say you’re doing well with your mom, but still don’t have money, look at who you’re projecting to. Often we choose significant figures for this role: a husband/partner, a boss, a rescue friend.

When a mother-daughter relationship is like madness

What is more in them – love or aggression, understanding or codependency? A psychoanalyst talks about the underlying mechanisms of the unique mother-daughter bond.

The special relationship

Some people idealize their mother, while others confess that they hate her and cannot find common ground with her. Why is this relationship so special, why does it hurt us so much and cause such different reactions?

The mother is not just an important character in a child’s life. According to psychoanalysis, virtually the entire human psyche is formed in an early relationship with the mother. They are not comparable to any other.

The mother for the child, according to psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, is actually the environment in which his formation takes place. And when the relationship is not formed in a way that would be beneficial to the child, his development is distorted.

Practically speaking, the relationship with the mother determines everything in a person’s life. This places a great responsibility on the woman, because the mother never becomes a person for her adult child with whom she can build an equal relationship of trust. The mother is left with nothing and no one comparable figure in his life.

What does a healthy mother/adult daughter relationship look like?

It is a relationship in which adult women can communicate and negotiate with each other, live separate lives – each their own. They can be angry and disagree and displease each other, but the aggression does not destroy love and respect, and no one takes their children and grandchildren away from anyone.

But the daughter-mother relationship is the most complicated of the four possible combinations (father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, and mother-daughter). The fact is that the mother is the primary object of affection for the daughter. But then, at the age of 3-5, she needs to transfer her libidinous feelings to her father, and she begins to fantasize, “When I grow up, I will marry my father.

This is the same Oedipus complex that Freud discovered, and it is strange that nobody has done it before him, because the child’s attraction to the parent of the opposite sex has been evident at all times.

And so this obligatory stage of development is very difficult for a girl to go through. Because when you start to love daddy, mom becomes a rival, and you both have to share daddy’s love somehow. It is very difficult for a girl to compete with her mother, still loved and important to her. And mom, in turn, is often jealous of her husband for her daughter.

But this is only one line. There is a second. For a little girl, the mother is the object of affection, but then she needs to identify with her mother in order to grow and become a woman.

There is a certain contradiction here: the girl has to simultaneously love her mother, fight with her for her father’s attention and identify with her. And this is where a new difficulty arises. The fact is that mother and daughter are very similar, and it is very easy for them to identify with each other. It is easy for the girl to mix her own and the mother’s, and it is easy for the mother to see her daughter as an extension of herself.

Many women really don’t distinguish well between themselves and their daughters. It sounds like psychosis. If you ask them directly, they will rebel and say that they are fine discerning and doing everything for the good of their daughters. But on some deep level that line is blurred.

Is caring for your daughter also caring for yourself?

Through her daughter, the mother wants to realize something she hasn’t realized in life. Or something that she herself loves very much. She sincerely believes that her daughter should love what she loves, that she would enjoy doing what she herself does. Not only that, the mother simply does not distinguish between her and her needs, desires, and feelings.

You know jokes like “put your hat on, I’m cold”? She actually feels for her daughter. I’m reminded of an interview with the artist Yuri Kuklachev, who was asked, “How did you raise your children?” He says, “And it’s the same as with cats.

You can’t teach a cat any tricks. I can only notice what she’s prone to, what she likes. One jumps, the other plays with the ball. And I develop that inclination. It’s the same with the kids. I just look at how they are, what they do by themselves. And then I develop them in that direction.

That’s the sensible approach, when you look at a child as a separate being with its own personality traits.

And how many of us know mothers who seem to take care: take their children to circles, exhibitions, concerts of classical music, because they feel that this is what the child needs. And then they also blackmail them with phrases like, “I put my whole life on you,” which make the adult children feel enormous guilt. Again, this looks like psychosis.

In essence, psychosis is the failure to distinguish between what’s going on inside you and what’s outside. The mother is outside her daughter. And the daughter is outside of her. But when the mother thinks that the daughter likes the same things that she likes, she begins to lose that boundary between the inside and the outside. And the daughter has the same thing going on.

They are of the same sex, they really are very much alike. This is where the theme of divided madness arises, a kind of mutual psychosis that extends only to their relationship. If you don’t observe them together, you might not notice any disturbance at all. Their communication with other people will be quite normal. Although individual distortions are possible. For example, this daughter has with women of the maternal type – with female bosses, female teachers.

What is the reason for this psychosis?

Here it is necessary to remind of the father figure. One of his functions in the family is at some point to come between the mother and daughter. Thus a triangle appears, in which there is a relationship of the daughter with the mother, and the daughter with the father, and the mother with the father.

But very often the mother tries to arrange so that the daughter’s communication with the father goes through her. The triangle breaks down.

I’ve met families where several generations reproduce this model: there are only mothers and daughters, and fathers are removed, or they’re divorced, or they never existed, or they’re alcoholics and have no weight in the family. In this case, who will destroy their closeness and fusion? Who will help them separate and look somewhere else but at each other and “mirror” their craziness?

By the way, did you know that in almost all cases of Alzheimer’s or some other type of senile dementia, mothers refer to their daughters as “mothers”? In fact, in such a symbiotic relationship, there is no distinction as to who belongs to whom. Everything merges.

Does the daughter have to be “daddy’s”?

You know what they say? For a child to be happy, a girl has to look like her daddy, and a boy has to look like his mommy. And there is also a saying that fathers always want sons, but love daughters more. This folk wisdom is quite consistent with nature’s preordained mental relationship. I think it is especially hard for a girl who grows up to be a “mother’s daughter” to separate from her mother.

The girl grows up, enters childbearing age, and finds herself as if in the field of adult women, thereby pushing the mother into the field of older women. This is not necessarily happening at the moment, but the essence of the change is this. And many mothers, without realizing it, experience it very painfully. Which, by the way, is reflected in folk tales of the wicked stepmother and the young stepdaughter.

Indeed, it is difficult to bear that the girl, the daughter blossoms, and you grow old. The teenage daughter has her own tasks: she needs to separate from her parents. The idea is that the libido that awakens in her after a latent period of 12-13 years should be turned from the family outward, on the peers. And the child should go out of the family during this period.

If the girl’s connection to her mother is very close, it is difficult for her to break out. And she remains a “home girl”, which is perceived as a good sign: a calm, obedient child has grown up. In order to separate, to overcome the attraction in such a fusion situation, the girl must have a lot of protest and aggression, which is perceived as rebellion and depravity.

It is impossible to realize everything, but if the mother understands these peculiarities and nuances of the relationship, it will be easier for them. I was once asked this radical question, “Does a daughter have to love her mother?” In fact, a daughter can’t help but love her mother. But in a close relationship there is always both love and aggression, and in a mother-daughter relationship there is a lot of love and a lot of aggression. The only question is, what will win – love or hate?

We always want to believe that love will win. We all know such families, where everyone treats each other with respect, everyone sees in the other a personality, a separate person, and at the same time feels how native and close they are.

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