Elinor: A princess does not raise her voice. Merida, this is what you’ve been preparing for your whole life.
Merida: No! What you’ve been preparing me for my whole life!
[Merida gets up in anger and starts to walk off]
Merida: I won’t go through with it! You can’t make me!
I am somewhat of an expert on the mother daughter thing. I am a daughter with a mother who is a daughter. I am a mother with five daughters, 2 who think they are mothers. There is no relationship as defining as mother and daughter. There is no other life-long connection as vital as daughter to mother. But man! There is no relationship struggle more difficult, tumultuous and damaging than mother and daughter.
It’s like serious atomic potential. Believe me. I know. I tried helping my daughter on a class project tonight and I’m having a PTSD episode as we speak.
The Bible says:
Like mother, like daughter. Ezk. 16:44
The daughter defies her mother. Micah 7:6
…mother against daughter and daughter against mother… Luke 12:53
In my life, here’s where I think it all went really wrong and here’s how I’m fixing it.
1. Your daughter isn’t your best friend.
Moms, please don’t treat your daughter like a friend. You are mother. In your daughter’s youth, she should obey you. In her adult life, she should honor you. Dumping your problems on your daughter, going TMI or kicking it with her like a pal doesn’t elevate you to either of those places. Equal billing is a no-no!
After my mom’s divorce we fell in that trap pretty quickly. We aligned ourselves as partners. It was just the two of us. When my rebellion hit full force there was no hierarchy established. I refused to submit to my mom’s authority. It took drastic measures to realign the order, like kicking me out of her house drastic. I eventually got the picture. Mom rules.
2. Your daughter isn’t an extension of you.
That washing of disappointment and frustration that happens when your daughter does something that heaps condemnation on you. Yeah, I’ve inflicted it and been inflicted by it. Mothers and daughters, we are separate entities. We do not move as one. We do not think as one. We do not have a “what’s true of me is true of you” contractual obligation.
I’ll be honest, the first time one of my girls told me she wanted to be a cheerleader, I all but disowned her. I was pretty much the antithesis of the cheerleader type and I suppose I probably still am. The idea of her becoming my arch nemesis induced a little panic. I wanted to shout, “Our kind aren’t cheerleaders!” But I sucked in some oxygen and said, “You are pretty amazing at flips!”
3. Stop blaming your mom.
I got seriously blamed tonight because my oldest daughter couldn’t possibly have ever found a moment to work on her big project that is due tomorrow because I was thwarting her at every step. I didn’t take her to the library. I didn’t help her research. I didn’t write the paper for her. She can’t. I wouldn’t. On and on.
I blamed all my psychological impairments and misdeeds on my mother well into my 30’s. She wasn’t a perfect mom. It took me a long time to realize no one is. It took me even longer to realize I was a pretty difficult daughter. It took longer still to realize her mom was even less perfect than she was so we were actually ahead in the game.
4. No boundaries.
Mother’s and daughters share a cosmic connection. There are times my mom knows what I am thinking and it freaks me out a little. That makes healthy boundaries even more important. Hashing out the details of your sex life and other private information is better left private. Griping about husbands polarizes you. Expecting things without asking reaps tension and guilt.
“Good boundaries mean the love is greater than etiquette or obligation but that love requires both—and that the rules for family life come from the heart as well as the head.” Amy Bloom; “Mothers and Daughters: Are You Overstepping Your Boundaries?”
5. You can’t draw a straight line from your daughter’s mistakes to your failures as a mom.
Mom, I know that you still carry weight and guilt from my wayward days. I want you to see that those years were less about you screwing up and more about both of us being under spiritual attack. Our family, your marriage, our relationship, it was all under attack. The devil did his best to take us all out. He shot a lot of arrows. We were wounded and left for dead. But we didn’t die.
Stop carrying guilt and start praising God we are still standing. God’s grace washed us both. He has lavished his love on us and given us both a second chance. Let’s live in the moment and do the best with what He has given us today.
I blame my mother for nothing, but forgive her for everything. -Mary J Blige