How to Improve Your Mother-Daughter Relationship with 7 Tips to Boost Connection.
The mother-daughter relationship is a complex one. Mothers and daughters are not perfect, each will make mistakes. You will misinterpret words and misunderstand the actions of each other. You will make errors of judgement and wonder if your relationship is worth the time and energy.
Your relationship is unique to you. Not every mother-daughter relationship will be close. Some are distant, yet many mothers and daughters want to remain connected.
It takes time to build a relationship. Here are seven tips to boost connection and improve your relationship with your mother or daughter.
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1. Talk openly and honestly with each other
Every mother and daughter has disagreements. There is discomfort, frustration, guilt, anger.
It’s important to have an open dialogue with each other to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings down the road. Don’t assume what the other person is thinking. Speak honestly and clearly in a gentle manner.
Mothers and daughters have much to learn from each other. Don’t discount generational differences. Each generation possesses insight and knowledge.
2. Have quality time together
Make an effort to spend quality time together – go for a coffee, take a walk in the park, have a video night in. Create a meal together, it could become a family recipe passed down to the next gen. Have a mother-daughter weekend away. If you don’t share similar interests, think of a new activity that you both could get involved in. My daughter and I took lessons in belly dancing. It was so much fun – and great exercise.
Share family stories. Many daughters have not heard their mother’s stories of growing up in another generation, in a different family. Mothers, share your story of who you were before becoming a mother. Daughters, share your story of growing up, attending school, your early work life. Listen to each other’s stories and life experience. This will help you understand how she views the world.
Reflective listening is crucial. Listen to the other person’s point of view. Reflect back to them what you heard. If some or all of it is incorrect, then the other person can respond with a warm correction.
Listen, not only to their words, not only to the tone of voice but listen to the underlying feelings. When a mother or daughter feels heard at a deep level, they also feel understood at their core. They feel the other person “gets me.” Therapist and author, Esther Perel, says: “Listen. Just listen. You don’t have to agree. Just see if you can understand that there’s another person who has a completely different experience of the same reality.”
Listening opens the door to powerful conversations. Listening encourages connection. If you want to develop your relationship, Listen.
Psychologist and author, Harriet Lerner, commented, “How we listen is perhaps the most important factor that determines how our relationships go and how successful we are in work, family, parenting, and friendship. Isn’t it interesting that we are so much more motivated to improve our talking skills, than in improving our listening skills? Can you imagine what our world would look like if our passion to listen and understand was as great as our passion to be heard and understood?”
4. Be respectful of each other’s opinions and feelings
This follows on from the previous point. You won’t always agree with one another all the time, that’s okay. Perhaps you want your mother or daughter to change, to think like yourself, act like yourself, and do what you want them to do. But that’s not how relationships work.
Here’s the thing: relationships aren’t about changing the other person. They’re about working together toward a common goal. If you find yourself trying to get your mother or daughter to change so that your relationship will improve, stop doing that! Instead, ask yourself what both of you can do to make your relationship better – and then, together figure out how to achieve it.
It’s okay for people not to agree with each other all the time; it doesn’t mean they love each other any less than if they did agree every time. It just means they have different opinions about things sometimes. And if you can learn how to accept those differences then hopefully you’ll both be happier and maybe even closer than ever before.
5. Be patient with each other
Remember that both of you are human beings with different backgrounds and experiences. Rules and expectations have changed with each generation. It’s important to be patient with each other as you navigate your complex relationship. Mothers are used to helping and advising their children since they were young. Daughters are used to mum being available since they were young. It can be difficult to step back and realise you each have your own independence. It can be frustrating and tiresome on both sides. Accept that you both are not perfect.
6. Always show love and support for each other
Therapist and author, Lori Gottlieb, has said that daughters want their mother to really see the best qualities in them, to have ‘their back’. A daughter wants her mother to be her ‘safe place’, and for mothers and daughters to be honest with each other in a gentle way. Mothers want to be acknowledged and appreciated. Let your mother know that you appreciate what she does for you. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
7. Have a connected relationship with yourself
To connect with your mother or daughter, and with others, you must have an understanding of yourself in order to have a deep connection with others. Researcher and author, Brene Brown, said “Our connection with other people is only as solid and deep as our connection to ourselves. For me to connect to you, I have to know who I am. I have to be connected to myself. When we’re lost and disconnected, we look externally.”
How you view others is influenced by your view of yourself. It forms a lens that we see others through. If the relationship with your mother or daughter is difficult, you will imagine what she thinks, and interpret what she says, viewed through your self-image, based on your prior judgement of your complicated relationship, and lack of trust within your relationship.
Understand yourself as being separate from your mother or daughter. Understanding what your triggers are, can change the pattern within your relationship.
Seek professional help if needed
If you are facing challenges in your relationship, it may be time to seek a professional who specialises in Mother-Daughter Relationships.
I can help you figure out what’s going on, to build a stronger, healthier relationship. Let me support you in your journey to move forward. I work with Mothers and Daughters either individually or as a pair.
Image: Kampus Production, Pexels
Janice Williams is the only Certified Mother-Daughter Relationship Specialist in Australia and the South Pacific region.
Sessions are available across Australia and worldwide.