( mother/daughter relationship issues)
Let’s face it, mothers and daughters have a history.
Is it any wonder they have issues?
No other relationship is tasked with wrestling the competing urges of dependence and independence right from the get-go.
From labor’s first contractions, mothers are both holding on to and letting go of their children.
Let’s first bear witness to the struggle placed before mothers and daughters.
When you consider one of the duos started off in the other’s body you have begun to appreciate the journey from independence to independence.
First conceived of, then conceived, carried and finally labored over, a mother and daughter travel many an emotional and developmental mile.
One that is reiterated many times over during the time mothers and daughters relate to each other.
How it all begins
Once baby arrives, mom takes care of baby.. yes the helpless baby who can’t feed diaper or even hold up her head.
They bond or let’s be real here. They fall in love.
If all goes well, they look into one another’s eyes and find that they only have eyes for each other.
This bonding is neurologically programmed into our DNA to ensure survival! The early babyhood stage starts at dependence and vulnerability.
For mom – life as she knew it, is over. Her body is broken open, sore nipples and sleepless nights set the stage for a tremendous level of sacrifice.
Depending on whether mom is psychologically sound and has support will influence to a great degree how well she adapts to this very difficult role.
For baby- well baby is just being baby, laying down the psychological hard drive she will operate from the rest of her days.
Psychologists say it is the time you can never remember yet you never forget. It is that basic, that fundamental.
But this story has a trajectory.
Baby’s job is to grow from complete dependence to mastery and independence.
At about year one and a half…. just when mom says to herself,” I’ve got this! ”the game changes on mom.
Her job goes from being everything to the young fledgling, to learning how to let go.
She must increasingly relinquish control. Talk about a job description rewrite!
So it all begins. At best, baby and mom ally enough and delight at babies progress.
At best, mom knows instinctively that babies progress is a result of her good enough mothering. Then both mom and baby can feel good about their connection.
Mom keeps track of the developmental milestones- perhaps proudly reporting to the playgroup moms or perhaps to her own mom the progress being made.
Baby, well baby, just feels good or protests in more or less effective ways to let mom know when she doesn’t.
The hard drive of her experience of life is being laid down.
If all goes well or good enough, baby learns that life feels good and doing for self-feels even better.
And when it doesn’t all go swimmingly, mom’s arms or lap is the go-to place where she mommy makes it all better.
When in resonance this all feels good.
There are enough good feelings to go around. But in music, like life, there is the dark note playing in the background, the counterpoint.
Every step taken is a step away from mommy.
If all goes well, mom is working herself out of a job.
How mom copes with this reality and loss tells the tale about whether or not separation will go well.
For many mothers and daughters, this dance can get complicated and convoluted.
Particularly if mom has a narcissistic, borderline or histrionic personality disorder or if mom is depressed or addicted. If this is the case, moms mothering can be woefully impaired and daughters can have a lifetime of suffering because of it.
This already difficult dance becomes nearly impossible.
This is my focus at Counseling By Katherine.
Mother/Daughter relationship issues start very early on, are complex, and involve the psychological core of both mother and daughter.
Understanding and navigating a daughters recovery from being mothered by a difficult mother takes both experience and compassion.