When a daughter is born, there is always the question of how much she will be like her mother. Mothers usually expect boys to be different from them and at unconscious levels, expect their daughters to be like them. However, when the daughters are different, it may be necessary to let go of pre-existing expectations in order to get to know the child they have to see her as she really is, as a person in her own right. Once they are grown, mothers have to let go of their daughters.
Mothers watch their daughters with dread. They worry about their daughter`s survival physically, their sexual survival, social survival, personal survival, and relationship survival. Mothers watch their daughters with high hopes that daughters will overcome any difficulties they themselves experienced and hope that their daughters will be more successful. They also hope that they will be able to follow-through with creating a next generation and the survival of the species and family traditions.
The dread of growing up to be like one`s mother has long been so common among women that it has a name. But rather than being true in reality, this primary care giver of our childhood will be very a different to the woman emerging from girl of childhood. The nature and dynamic of mother-daughter relationships will change as two maturing women face each other. Of course the small girl who has now become a woman in her own right will be always younger, maybe because of youthfulness, more attractive, with life still ahead of her. The mother, with her wealth of experience can offer wise insight and knowledge, and providing they both enter maturity together, they will gain so much from one another.
One of the most powerful themes in accounts of mother-daughter relationships in western culture has been that of connection and loss. Typically, a daughter`s marriage (or desire for a man) threatens the primary and intense bond between her mother and herself. Saying one thing about sex and motherhood, feeling contrary emotions about both at the same time, mother presents an enigmatic picture to her daughter. The first lie - the denial that a woman`s sexuality may be in conflict with her role as a mother - is so upsetting to traditional ideas of femininity that it cannot be talked about.
However, a mother does teach her daughter to be dependent. Mothers are seen to teach their daughter to meet men`s needs and suppress their own. Girls are taught to be attractive and caring, not to outshine men intellectually and to look for approval. Thus, each mother has to transmit the rules of femininity to her daughter to help them survive in the world, as she knows it. Most mothers are encouraging of their daughters within their mother-daughter relationships, they want to be helpful to their daughters, and feel very bewildered by them. One of the things observed quite regularly is that the mother knows so very little about her own self, that she is giving too much importance on how her daughter turns out to be.
Understanding the mother-daughter relationship is critical to young adult girls because a daughter bonds with her mother in a complex, interdependent association that often inhibits a daughter from establishing her own identity. Many theories have focused on the uniqueness of the mother-daughter relationship. Some of the sociological literature describes the strong bond between mother and daughter as one inhibiting the daughter from establishing her own identity. The first bonding in infancy is with the mother. Although this initial bonding is true for both sexes, boys break away at an early age to identify with their fathers.
The mother is the early caregiver and primary source of identification for all children, however, a daughter continues to identify with the mother. And since a mother and daughter identified with each other, a daughter struggles all her life to separate from her mother. The mother-daughter relationship undergoes added conflict and strain in the adolescent years because the mother is the primary role model and teacher of cultural values.
Their relationship is often conflicting, particularly during their daughter`s adolescence, and manifests many of the ambiguities and confusions about the social meanings of womanhood and motherhood. Research also show that an adolescent daughter often holds the most negative attitudes toward their mother and that the daughter`s quest for autonomy, often manifested sexually, is not commended by their mothers.
The mother-daughter relationship may become a focus because of a family response to an outside conflict, or the daughter`s rebellion against the values of society or, more specifically, against her mother`s lifestyle. Although the relationship is complex, young adults often need to understand their mothers in order to understand themselves.
It might be surprising but even daughters have great expectations of their mothers! Mothers serve as role models for their daughters. Daughters watch their mothers and learn about work, career, marriage, family relationships, sexuality, mothering and maternal instincts, love, punishment, control, social friendships, how to network, how to be supportive, and what they can expect from men. Daughters have high expectations for mothers and often base their self-esteem and sense of self-worth on Mom`s perception of herself. If daughters feel their mother`s lack of confidence, it may weaken their own sense of self-confidence.
Within mother-daughter relationships, mothers and daughters are not always the finest of friends. Difficulties in the adult mother daughter relationship most often occur over one very critical question. Allowing daughters be their own woman is a universal problem for mothers emerging out of mother daughter relationships. Mothers and daughters, who have difficulty with their mother-daughter relationships as adults, often duplicate the old patterns of control and upheaval from childhood. They still cannot hear each other.
The mother-daughter bond is fragile but unbreakable. Most daughters love their mothers more than they can acknowledge consciously. The bonds are strong and separation is painful. At the beginning of those mother-daughter relationships when you are just a child, you think your mother is a goddess and you desire to be just like your mum. Whereas in the rough and tough teen years of mother-daughter relationships, the main form of communication for the next five years or so will be a few words, "No way mum!" And then, somewhere amid your twenties and thirties, if you are fortunate, she becomes your greatest buddy again. Throughout their lives, they must come together and then leave each other. This is difficult but inevitable and healthy for each.
Sometimes, when it is difficult to let go, a little conflict helps to create the emotional distance necessary to let go. For this reason, mothers and daughters often find themselves in disagreement or conflict just before saying good-bye. At some level, it makes the separation possible. When damaged, Mother-daughter relationships can be repaired through listening and flexibility. Both need each other`s support and encouragement, and courage as they fight their own individual battles to survive well and be safe, to be healthy and happy and to feel fulfilled as women.