Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


Making Mother and Daughter Relationships the Best

posted by Linda Mintle

One of the common areas of tension between mothers and daughters involves boundaries. Boundaries are important because mothers and daughters often have different expectations about their relationship. Mothers tend to want more time and attention than their adults daughters can or are willing to give. Therefore, boundaries need to be negotiated and set.

Establish a time to have a conversation with your mom that begins like this, “Mom, let’s talk about what you expect from me and what I expect from you, given our lives and all that is in them.” Try to come to an agreement and then work on putting that agreement into practice.

Instead of becoming angry and defensive when the agreement is broken, revisit it.  For example, “Mom, remember, you weren’t going to do that.” Then, when the agreement works, positively note the change and willingness to work together. It takes time and intention to change family behaviors and patterns.

When an expectation seems unrealistic, you will need to be assertive and clarify the expectation. Keep in mind that daughters often have unrealistic expectations of their mothers. Daughters want moms to be all-knowing, all nurturing and meet every need. When moms fall short (and they will because these are impossible tasks), daughters become upset and irritable. But rather than complain and feel bad, ask yourself, are you expecting too much? It may be that only God can meet your expectation of complete unconditional love, anticipating your needs and knowing what you need every day.

Clarifying expectations and setting boundaries go a long way to establishing a healthy mother-daughter relationship. It takes conversation and negotiating but is so worth the effort. When the mother-daughter relationship is healthy, it can be one of the most enjoyable relationships in your life!



  • Linda Mintle

    These are serious issues that should be dealt with in professional therapy. If she is harming herself and the baby, she needs to be reported and social services involved. She needs help and no amount of you telling her that you love her is going to fix the destructive things she is doing to herself. Right now, she needs to be in therapy.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Debbie

    My daughter is very troubled. She has Borderline Personality disorder, has left her husband and children, lives with her lover and is pregnant with his baby. She states that all of her bad decisions are because I am over-involved (helped when she cries or whines to me that she needs/wants my help ~ can’t make it without my help), and that I am controlling and domineering. The destructive patterns that she is evidencing now make having any relationship with her impossible. She accuses me of not loving her unconditionally. I see it as allowing her for the first time in her life to face the full consequences of her decisions. Is it even possible to have any kind of constructive relationship with her? She insists that every friend and family member is guilty of not loving her unconditionally. Her final volley at her husband was to insist that the only way she could be happy was if her lover had full access to the home she and her husband shared, that the lover would be at every baby appt and the delivery and be involved in the everyday life of the baby, and wanted to maintain her children and husband as they were before the lover was found out. She said that she could never give up her lover. She starved and poisoned her lovers first baby in the womb (anorexia and over dosing on diet pills….. until it miscarried …. this is the second baby she has lost like this and she admitted to trying to kill her youngest son the same way through anorexia. He almost didn’t make it and she was dangerously close to death just before delivery and struggled afterward too. We are grieving the woman that she could be and that we thought she was becoming and for the devastation of seeing her betray the Lord so blatantly. Her children are struggling emotionally, and in many other ways. What’s next for my relationship with this middle daughter who says that her siblings are perfect and she is nothing?

  • Pingback: Making Mother and Daughter Relationships the Best | Dr. Linda Mintle

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