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The Structure of the Mother-Daughter Relationship

by Carrie Cross, studioD

Every mother and daughter understands the ups and downs of their relationship. It is a structure of love, dislike and sometimes hate. It goes through its different seasons as each grows older. It has its own rhythm – sometimes wonderful – sometimes not. The structure of the mother daughter relationship is caring, convoluted and complicated. Yet it is simplistic in that it is based upon two people trying to come to terms with each other.


The first moment you see your baby girl there is a bond that is the basis for maternal love and nurture. This first attachment between you and your daughter is the primary model a she will use as a basis for intimate relationships and positive self-esteem, according to Kid’sHealth. Everything about how she develops -- physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally -- depends on the nature of this bonding. But it is your cooing, kissing and cuddling that brings a sense of security to your baby girl.


During childhood you act as a role model for your daughters and sons. But early in childhood boys break away sooner than their sisters to identify with dad, according to Virginia Tech’s scholarly journal, "The Allan Review." This leaves your daughter to identify so closely with you that it may be difficult for her to develop her own sense of identity as she reaches adolescence. She plays with dolls, imitates what you do and responds to your positive reinforcement.


For some mothers and daughters the teen years can be the most challenging of their relationship. Your little lady is growing into a woman with her own mind and way of doing things; in other words – independence and individuality are blooming. This means more freedom, less constraints and less communication with you, according to an article by Dr. Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D. published in "Psychology Today." He adds that because mom and daughter are sexually similar and connected from before birth, the ties are hard to break for both and lead to some interesting, if not heated, confrontations and dilemmas.


As parent and child age and mature, the structure of the mother daughter relationship matures. It is at this time that your daughter begins to see you as a person, not just her mother. There is a shared value and investment in family. If tension, however, still exists between the two of you it could be because your daughter bugs you as much as you bug her, states Penn State research published in the 1997 winter issue of "Psychology and Aging." Often the daughter wants to care for mom -- who doesn’t see herself in need of care -- and mom wants to continue to care for her now-grown daughter who sees this as an intrusion. Often each side has a hard time accepting each other for the way they are.

About the Author

Carrie Cross has been writing for profit and pleasure for more than 35 years. Her background includes business, real estate, entrepreneurship, management, health and nutrition. A registered nurse, she has published various pieces, including web content, numerous newspaper and magazine articles and columns and six books.

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