Mother's Day mother daughter conflict

Mother’s Day Mother-Daughter Conflict. 

Welcome to Mother’s Day. The one day devoted to celebrating motherhood, a day captured in loving smiles, beautiful shared memories, breakfast in bed, chocolate, fresh flowers, warm fuzzy feelings.

For mothers and daughters with a complicated relationship, Mother’s Day is a difficult time, exposing deep hurts going back many years.

This day of ‘celebration’ is difficult to avoid. It’s ‘in your face’ with merchandise displayed in shops, social media, TV and other forms of marketing. It feeds into the adult child’s guilt, persuading them to buy for mum to show their love and appreciation.


Misunderstanding The Message

Mothers and daughters often feel they don’t understand each other, they feel criticised by the other, frustrated in their relationship, and don’t know how to move forward.

Daughters feel their mothers say the wrong thing, are critical towards them, their judgements are hurtful. They don’t feel listened to or understood by mother.

Mothers believe that what they say to their daughters is that of care and concern, wanting to be helpful and feel they get criticism in return.

This lack of communication in seeking to get a message across, is frustrating and tiresome on both sides.

When daughters seek help for their relationship, they often describe their mother as:

  • dismissive of them
  • critical towards them
  • emotionally unavailable
  • self-focussed, overly concerned with her own needs
  • lacks warmth
  • strong desire to be needed


Mother-Daughter Expectations

Putting boundaries in place is one way to help survive your fraught relationship. But it’s not the only way.

Many mothers and daughters do want to improve their relationship. They just don’t know how. It’s helpful to understand the reasons behind your difficulties.

Generational experience impacts relationships affecting the interactions between mothers and daughters. Different generations, a mother and daughter raised in different families. Rules and expectations have changed with each generation.

Social researcher, Brene Brown, said that “Disappointment is unmet expectations. The more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointments.”

When a daughter expects more from her mother than the mother is capable of giving, the daughter feels a huge disappointment. A daughter feels dismissed, her needs unimportant, she feels unseen within the family. A daughter can feel betrayed and let down by the person she expects unconditional love from.

Feelings of hurt are at her core.

You want to be seen by your mother, to be visible to her, for her to understand you at a deep level, you want to lean into your mother. To receive her unreserved love.


Imagining Another Life

Be aware of difficult feelings, particularly this day. Anger and grief, sadness and resentment, that your mother is not the cheerful, loving parent you see peering out from the Hallmark cards, or does not represent the words printed inside the card.

Mother’s Day was a significant day for my mother. She felt she deserved more than a mere card and gift. She couldn’t elaborate what she wanted specifically, but the decades-long pain of feeling pushed aside and not feeling heard and understood within her own family gave rise to anger. Her pain was thrust onto me. Her wounds punctured me.

It was exhausting living with someone who didn’t have a sense of who she was. She had a Jekyll and Hyde personality. An amusing, fun woman outside the home. Yet inside the confines of home, she was critical, resentful, unhappy.

For many years, I felt guilt that somehow it was my fault that she was sad. As a child, I tried to cheer her up, help her to become ‘happy mum’. It took me many years to realise that it wasn’t about me, it was her ‘stuff’.


Do you grieve for what you imagine life could have been like with an improved version of your mother?

Do you imagine how different your life may have been if your mother had soft eyes for you and a tender love in her heart?

With Mother-Daughter Coaching, I will unpack the dynamics between yourself and your mother and help you move forward in your relationship together.


Society Expectations

Many women wonder if they are the only one who is going through this difficult relationship with their mother. Daughters are ashamed of these feelings. Society tells women that mothers and daughters are to have close and loving relationship. But it’s not always the case.

Women who feel hurt or anger towards their mother are reluctant to discuss these difficult relationships, as it is not considered the right thing to do. It’s like a secret which no one talks about, yet many experience.


Tips to Help Navigate Mother’s Day

Many of my clients ask how to get through Mother’s Day when they have a challenging relationship with their mother.


  • If you decide to spend time with your mother, go to a park or beach. An outdoor venue makes it easy to leave. You can spend 1 ½ – 2 hours, then either you can go for a walk or leave.
  • More brands are offering the option to opt-out from Mother’s Day marketing. Turning off email notifications is helpful.
  • Stay away from social media. Give your phone to your partner or a friend to look after for the day.
  • Mother’s Day and the leadup to this day may be triggering. Let the day slip by and not celebrate or commemorate in any way.
  • If you feel the need to do something for your mother but are reluctant to see her, send a card, then celebrate with the cherished women in your life, the ones who have been a sister or a mother to you.
  • Get together with friends and engage in a creative activity. Writing, drawing, pottery, are some ideas. It would be a fun time together and a rest from the Mother’s Day hype.
  • Avoid shops or other places, if possible, where families will be celebrating Mother’s Day.
  • Spend the day with your kids, enjoying their company. Watch a movie, play games, do a craft activity.
  • Create a special tradition for Mother’s Day so your kids will learn to honour this special day with you. Breakfast in bed, pick a flower from the garden, create a Happy Box with photos and memories.
  • Book a room for yourself somewhere nice. Lie in for as long as you like, have breakfast wherever you like. It’s time to spend on you, just to chill.

If any of this blog resonates with you, click the button below to reach out to me.

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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