Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

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!

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