How The Lost Daughter Examines mother-guilt and shame

This blog examines mother-guilt and shame of motherhood.


Have you seen the film The Lost Daughter? I found it fascinating and tense, sad and complex, yet honest in its portrayal of women who are at a crossroads in life. The film examines motherhood, the difficult choices a mother makes in the midst of regret.

Yet the film does not judge. It is left open to the viewer to consider what it means to be a mother, to witness the maternal experience.


Reflections and Regrets


Leda, the mother, reflects on her life as she becomes involved in the life of a young mum that she meets on a Greek island. Leda confesses that she abandoned her kids for three years as Leda pursued her career and romantic interests.


Leda declares she is an unnatural mother. She regrets not being a ‘better’ mother, yet also reflects that she is a selfish person.


When we see the younger Leda in flashback, in a few short minutes, we witness the tension of Leda juggling study at home, wanting to pursue her career and hearing her child crying.


It was hard to ignore the cries of her daughter while she crawled all over her mum seeking mum’s attention, not wanting to be invisible in mum’s presence. The frustration contained in this scene spoke volumes about the frustration of being a carer, a mother, a woman.


The Meaning of Motherhood 

The Lost Daughter on Netflix has created lots of discussion – the meaning of motherhood, leaving children in the care of others, juggling career and motherhood, placing a mother’s own longing above the needs of her children.


This film by Maggie Gyllenhaal invites women and men to openly discuss what being a mother is.

✔  Is motherhood really a natural experience for all women?

✔  How has patriarchal expectations affected women through generations?

✔  What does the ‘good mother’ mean?

✔  Can you be a ‘good mother’ and meet your own needs?

✔  How does the past generation of mothers influence current, and future, generations of mothers?


As a Mother-Daughter Coach, I hear many women talk about their relationship with their mother. Women can lose their identity caring for kids, partners, parents, and the expectation that it’s okay to constantly give out care to others, yet receiving only crumbs of attention and love in return.

A blog I wrote about women who lose their identity once they assume the role of carer. Tap the link, The Lost Woman, there’s tips on how you can find your way back.

Janice WIlliams Counselling


Janice Williams is the only Certified Mother-Daughter Relationship Specialist in Australia and the South Pacific region.

Janice offers in-person and online appointments. Online sessions are available across Australia and worldwide.

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