By the time a woman realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong.Author unknown, but thank you
For many of us, Mother’s Day is a time to feel grateful and blessed and to cherish, love, and respect our relationship with our mother. For others it is a time of sadness to grieve for a mom who is no longer here. And for others it is a time of regret for a relationship that never was.
If your relationship with your mom isn’t the best, though, it’s never too late to forge a new relationship or improve the one that you have. (This article is written from the perspective that your relationship with your mother isn’t irreconcilable and that she is not a person with whom you have strong reasons for no longer speaking – i.e. emotional or physical abuse, substance issues, etc.).
Transitioning from that tumultuous adolescent relationship with mom:
As an adolescent, did you fight your mother? Did you rebel against everything your mother tried to instill in you? Did you think that she was a royal pain in the neck and so uncool? Did you believe that your mother’s only purpose in life was to make you feel miserable? Did you feel that she didn’t know what she was talking about?
We can explore:
- How do we transition from what was once an oppositional relationship in our adolescence to an adult mother / daughter relationship?
- How do we move from thinking of mom as someone who doesn’t know anything to realizing that mom has a lot of life experience and wisdom to share with us?
Transitioning into these new roles may be a slow yet natural progression that occurs over time, but for others it can be work on both parts to shift this:
- As in any good relationship, it’s always nice to allow space and time to truly listen to your mother.
- Asking her about her own interests, what she’s doing now, how she spends her time, what she wants to do with her life, etc., may be very revealing and may also open the door to allow for more in her life.
Reflect back what the other person is saying, instead of assuming you already know.Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D, psychologist, author, and mom / daughter relationship expert
You may start to discover through this listening that your mom isn’t just a mom. One of the biggest parts of nurturing an adult relationship is realizing that your mom has dreams and needs of her own, separate and individual from the family. She may not be fully expressing these, or may have just started to, however anything you can do as her daughter to allow her to awaken old dreams and hobbies is beneficial. Perhaps even consider taking a class or a trip together?
Rewriting the old story:
Another area of work for most of us is in letting go of our old stories around what our parents did and didn’t do for us. We can explore:
- Are there things in your life that you blame mom for?
- Are there things that you wish she’d done, or ways that you’d wished she’d acted?
- How we might have written a story in our heads in which our moms were more loving, more considerate, more available, etc. But the truth of it is, that past can no longer be rewritten, and we have to work through and let go of any blame that we’ve given to mom (or dad) for our lives.
If we don’t work through these issues, then we stay stuck in this pattern that doesn’t serve us.
My wish for you today is that you can start to see all of the amazingness that you and your mom have to offer each other.
Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director.