I was recently invited to write an article for Wave Magazine, Northern Beaches Mums monthly magazine, on daughters who seek approval from their mothers. Some of the topics covered in the article are below, with a link to the article.
If you care about people’s approval, you will be their prisoner ~ Lao Tzu
In her memoir, Things I’ve Been Silent About, Azar Nafisi writes about her complicated relationship with her mother. Often seeking approval from her mother on the one hand, yet desiring distance from her as Azar grew, she desperately wanted her mother’s approval for Azar’s life choices, yet struggled to be seen by her mum and be accepted by her unconditionally.
This pursuing/distancing relationship is not uncommon for daughters of mothers down the generational line who have unfulfilled dreams and been invisible and unheard in their own families. The wounded mother, the wounded child.
Daughters will comment that they love their mother and realise their mothers’ sacrifice for them to achieve a good education in the hope of a good job. Difficulties arise, though, when daughters seek more independence and voice their own thoughts and opinions.
Author, Peg Streep, said “This most intricate of all relationships – and most formative – has many variations. No other early connection shapes a daughter’s perceptions and her very being more, since her mother’s face is the first mirror in which a daughter catches a glimpse of herself. Motherhood in all of its aspects – the good and the bad – is what we turn to here. The stresses, the trials, the difficulty and, yes, the crucial nature of mothering comes into focus.”
A Mother’s Needs Being Met
Daughters want to be held in their mother’s warm embrace, hear their mother’s soft voice, encouraging them in their own goals and dreams. If a mother is getting her needs met, she will meet her daughter’s needs. A mother will not withhold her loving connection from her daughter if the mother is connected to a community where she is loved for being her faithful true self, for being real, being authentic.
Mothers who see, hear and understand their child, and accept and respect their daughter’s growing autonomy, then their daughter will return to the family as a mature, loving adult.
I‘ve seen many adult daughters in my practice who felt that whatever they did, it was never enough for their mother.
Many daughters realise that they would never get her approval and had to stop pursuing the goal of mother’s approval. I’ve been there myself and wrote about it in How To Survive Mothers Day With A Difficult Mother.
Daughters arrive at a point where they realise that their mum will not change – unless mum chooses to change. Many daughters wait years for their mother to make that choice but eventually the daughter has to let go of seeking her mother’s approval.
Click or tap the link for the article, Letting Go of Mothers Approval, in Wave magazine.
Janice Williams is a Certified Mother-Daughter Relationship Specialist.
Janice offers in-person and online appointments. Online sessions are available across Australia and worldwide.