Sometimes You’re So Used To Your Relationship With Your Mom You Don’t Know If It’s OK

Let me preface this article with the information that this is not coming from a place of judgment. My mom and I had an incredibly unhealthy relationship for decades. We literally just finished a book about it. It’s called the Mother-Daughter Relationship Makeover and it’s our formula for recovering from an unhealthy relationship with your mother or daughter. So, know that. I have had a profoundly complicated relationship with my own mother, and we did not speak for four years at one point. The work we’ve done to repair and heal ourselves and each other is one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.

That being said, it does qualify me to write about this incredibly important relationship that sadly goes wrong for many of us. That’s the other piece to note, you are not alone if you have a mother who drives you crazy, maybe that you don’t even like. Right now, anyway.

The Question At Hand Though Is, Is Your Relationship With Your Mom Healthy

Let’s get into the basics of what a healthy mother-daughter relationship looks like

  1. Both mom and daughter implement and respect boundaries
  2. They spend time together doing healthy activities
  3. They accept each other and show up for each other

The other important marker of a healthy mother-daughter bond is healthy communication. That means they:

  1. Listen to each other
  2. Respond in appropriate ways
  3. They defend and lean on each other, especially in tough times
  4. They show each other unconditional love, warmth, and support

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Did you have it? We didn’t–my mother or I–and that’s been a point of great pain for both of us. This book is our attempt to stop generational mistakes in our family and help mothers and daughters find peace in their story if they didn’t get that storybook relationship either.

What Is Unhealthy? What Does It Look Like?

I won’t get too much into our story because that’s in the book. But, here are some common experiences of daughters who feel unloved or uncared for by their moms.

  1. Mom didn’t prioritize her daughter’s needs, she may have ignored them altogether
  2. Serious boundary issues like mom wants her daughter to be her best friend or party buddy
  3. Mom abandoned her daughter for romantic partners or friends
  4. Controlling Mom who had grand plans for her daughter whether those plans made sense to her daughter or not–think dance or sports moms
  5. Mom is devoutly religious and the daughter didn’t come out the same way

Then there are the egregious situations where the mom has serious problems like:

  1. Alcoholism/Addiction
  2. Abusive boyfriends
  3. Severe or untreated mental illness
  4. Poverty
  5. Other situations where the daughter is not only unloved but in grave danger a lot of the time

Sometimes Unhealthy Can Be More Tricky

It’s not always the egregious situations that cause trouble in relationships with your mom. Have you ever met a mom who simply can’t stay out of her adult daughter’s business? She calls, she meddles, she gossips, she doesn’t like the boyfriend or husband, and she guilts her daughter constantly about not spending enough time with her. Moms without boundaries are a dangerous thing. Moms who are cold and withholding can also create serious damage in the emotional worlds of their daughters. Daughters will go to great lengths to please moms who can’t be pleased, which leads us to the critical moms. The moms who pick at every little thing. It’s death by a thousand pricks as the years pass.

It’s not always all bad too. Moms who take financial responsibility for their daughters can infantilize them without realizing it and create feelings of incompetence or resentment over time. Many moms adore their daughters but lack the ability to know what’s appropriate and that is the cause of discomfort. This is why having good communication, and also being able to hear what’s being said to you without freaking out is so important. Both my mom and I have held our tongues at times fearful of the other’s reaction. Today, we can hear just about anything and be OK, but we didn’t used to be able to

You’re Not Looking For Perfection But Openness and Willingness In Your Relationship With Your Mom

It’s important to consider that no one is perfect and we all have good and bad in us. The question to think about here is, does this relationship make me healthier and support me in who I am and what I’m trying to do with my life? If it does not, don’t worry. There are a million ways to get on the same page. We share them in the new book. Today, all I want you to think about is, whether this relationship is healthy. That’s it.

Click the image to pre-order from Simon and Schuster!

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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