The longer any relationship lasts, the more likely it is to be defined by recurring patterns of behavior. This is especially true of the relationship between mothers and daughters. It is easy to get caught up in the same issues over and over, but it is possible to change the situation.
Why It Happens
Mothers never stop worrying about their children regardless of their age, and some mothers try to control that anxiety by questioning the choices their children make. According to a study by psychologists from the University of Michigan, this is especially true of the relationship between mothers and their adult daughters. To change the relationship dynamic, recognize when the two of you are acting out a script rather than responding appropriately to a situation.
Many conflicts start off as insignificant disagreements which then escalate. Both you and your mother have developed patterns of behavior that are triggered when you have a certain type of interaction. These patterns trigger you both to act out the script. Your mother questions one of your choices, offers a suggestion or says something you interpret as critical. You respond with an angry outburst, which hurts your mother's feelings and makes her angry. Before you know it, the two of you are fighting. The only way to change the pattern is to handle the situation differently from the beginning.
Changing the Script
Teenagers rebel against their parents because the parent has power. That's no longer the situation. If you handle criticism by acting rebellious or resentful, you are playing into a narrative in which you are the defiant child and your mother is the authority. When your mother questions a decision you've made, calmly tell her that you appreciate her advice but you have made your choice. If you don't want to talk about it anymore, calmly tell her you'd like to change the topic. Avoid escalating the situation. Don't get defensive. You have the power to make your own decisions and no one can take that away from you.
Handling Your Feelings
It is not easy to control your reactions when you feel criticized. If you can see it coming, you can prevent an explosion. Rather than lashing out, let your mother know that you cannot continue the conversation. You will call her back or come over again when you feel calm. When you open the conversation up again, let her know how it made you feel when she criticized you or questioned your decisions. It may be easier for her to hear you if you can explain your feelings calmly and without blame. If you can avoid setting off the familiar patterns of escalation, your mother might do the same.
Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.