To maintain a healthy mother-daughter relationship, each party must be willing to put forth the effort and dedication required to keep the relationship going. Mother-daughter relationships come in all forms, says Psych Central associate editor Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., and range from very close friendships to distant relationships with limited interaction. Whether your mother-daughter relationship is strong or has waned over the years, certain tools can strengthen your bond with one of the most important and influential people in your life.
It's helpful when daughters can talk to their mothers about nearly anything. In many families, younger children - such as preschoolers - tend to be more open with their parents; they become more guarded as they get older, says clinical psychologist Laura Markham. Markham also says that the more children talk to their parents, the more comfortable conversation will be between them. When mothers set the tone for open communication early in the relationship, their daughters feel more comfortable discussing personal matters, such as romantic relationships and adversities in their lives.
Mother-daughter relationships can be difficult to manage when a mother or a daughter is uncertain about whether or not the other can be depended on. Mothers and daughters can strengthen their relationship by being responsible and showing integrity by doing what each party says she's going to do. For instance, mothers can show support for their daughter's extracurricular activities and attend recitals and games when they promise to do so. Daughters should be reliable, and can demonstrate this by meeting curfews, completing chores and keeping appointments.
Like dependability, trust is an important component of a good mother-daughter relationship. If a daughter shares a confidence with her mother, she needs the security of knowing that her mother won't be judgmental or overly critical of her. Daughters also need to trust that their mothers will be there for guidance, wisdom and other forms of tangible and intangible support. Mothers can reinforce this trust by keeping an open mind about things that their daughters share with them and offering helpful, constructive feedback if it's desired.
When adversity strikes, mothers can be there for their daughters to provide emotional and other forms of support. Depending on the nature of the mother-daughter relationship, mothers may call on their daughters for various forms of support. In a 2010 Psychology Today article, clinical and forensic psychologist and licensed private investigator Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D., details four forms of support that people need during difficult times: emotional, esteem or encouragement, tangible - such as helping with specific tasks - and informational support or advice. Mothers and daughters can keep a good relationship by continuously being supportive of one another.
Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies
Health professionals with Help Guide, a nonprofit mental health resource, state that "Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time." When conflicts arise between mothers and daughters, it's important for them to use effective conflict resolution strategies in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Techniques include compromise, effective communication during conflicts - including active and attentive listening - and the readiness to forgive and forget.