I like to think I’m a fairly accomplished woman. Not over the top accomplished, but I’ve done a few things I’m proud of. I’ve raised four children to become healthy, contributing members of society. I’m a published writer. I have a degree and a job I love as an e-communications analyst. My husband and I run two businesses that pay the mortgage and then some. I volunteer for a couple of non-profit organizations where my contributions are valued. My opinions are respected and often sought after.
But not by my daughters.
What is it about mothers and daughters I ask you? It is the nature of women to share their experiences and they learn from each other this way. When I hear Deb’s experiences about raising her boys, for instance, I put that information together with what I know from my own experiences, plus what I’ve read or heard others speak about. I look for patterns and calculate odds and then file everything away for future reference.
But lord help me if I try to share my experience with either of my daughters. Even when I frame my story with qualifiers such as “in my experience” and “this may not be true of you,” I still get a stinging retort from one or a cold shoulder from the other and I’m left shaking my head in hurt confusion.
I love my daughters fiercely and decided one day to figure this out in the name of close and loving relationships. I want them in my life in a healthy, vibrant way darn it, and am determined to make that happen!
In the journey of figuring out the mystery I examined my own relationship with my mother. How do I feel when she offers her experience with me? No answers there, though. My mom is quite self-absorbed and I tend to be the one acting in the parental role with her. When she does tell her stories they are about specific events in her life. Aside from the obligatory, “How are the kids? How’s Tom?” she doesn’t seem to really notice what’s going on in my life. I’m sure she couldn’t even tell me what I do or where I work. That’s just mom and she has her own challenges.
Next, I went online. I brought up Google and typed in strained relationships between mothers and daughters. The very first article that displayed was a pretty good one and offered a fair amount of insight. Here are a few key points:
- Mothers want to help their daughters avoid painful experiences they endured so they offer their wisdom in an effort to share insight.
- Daughters perceive this to be meddling and become greatly annoyed (“She thinks I’m too stupid to handle this”).
- Mothers should offer more encouragement than advice.
- Daughters should not assume meddling when mom offers her experience. Besides wanting to help avoid pitfalls, mom also really wishes to feel needed.
Personally, I think communication is key; and although we may be the very best communicators with the rest of the world, family dynamics can sometimes make it difficult to express ourselves honestly with each other. Instead of backing off feeling hurt, I think I need to start calling my girls on how they react sometimes and get a dialogue going instead.
And I’ll back off with the “wisdom” just a little…