rediscovering what is authentic & what works

Why Mothers & Daughters Fight

Mothers & daughters fight the most of any parenting pair. Fathers usually have no idea what to do about it and feel helpless or disgusted.

What are Teen girls so unhappy about with their mothers? I hear the same refrain; “She doesn’t understand me.” “She doesn’t have a clue who I really am!” “She just doesn’t listen!” “Why is she so judgemental?” “She is so hypocritical!” These are all very ordinary complaints. It is by fighting with Mom that teens are able to make themselves known.

Terri Apter is a brilliant psychologist who has done a lot of research on mother-daughter relationships. She has written a terrific book to help mothers navigate the confusing territory of adolescence. The book is aptly titled: You Don’t Really Know Me.Mothers & Daughters Fighting, Angry adolescent girls, Misunderstood Teens

Apter makes wonderful points, too numerous to tally. Here are just five:

1. “A teenage daughter maintains a critical watchfulness over her own identity & locates herself carefully by being ‘not my mother’. pg.22

2. A teen perceives Mom outlining faults & mentioning past mistakes as being shamed. Humiliation is never a good thing. pg.55

3. Teens are “insulted by parental concerns.” pg.60

4. Absence of conflict is not evidence of a good relationship. The Teen lies to get along. pg.151

5. These relationships improve in part because “a girl’s experience of her new powers in hurting her mother can actually offer the recognition she        is seeking.” pg.226

These are just a sampling of the insights her book offers. If you are exhausted by the pain of fighting with your adolescent daughter this book offers a very valuable paradigm shift. Instead of just being so tuned in to your daughters’ complete lack of respect for you, it will help you to flip that point of view by recognizing, that she doesn’t feel respected either.

One of the things I repeat over & over on both the blog and the website is how a lack of respect dooms relationships.

The only bad thing about this book is that it wasn’t published until 2004 and I needed it in 2001. There is no doubt in my mind I would have been a better mom to my daughter if I had known about it even in 2004.

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9 Responses »

  1. My Mother and I have been at it for years, she keeps telling any man I am with all of my secrets and saying things that they dont need to hear. I keep asking her not to do this and she kepps on and on and on and on and on. I blow up at her and this lat time I told her to stay out of my life and go fuck herself.

  2. my mom hates me.

    • Just because you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s true. She may hate how you act not who you are. You could be brave & ask her what is difficult about you to take? You could also ask her what she appreciates…..most people experience both sides of who you are. Rhoda

  3. My daughter is 33, married and pregnant..first time. She was a type I diabetic from the age of 14 months. So, we had to do lots of bonding. She used to be funny and have fun, but now married, she finds something wrong with me, I’ve had too much to drink…haven’t in at least 8 months, but then it’s what I say to someone, what I wear, just anything! No matter what I do, there is just something wrong. My house is too cluttered…well, I agree there, but anything and everything is wrong. It’s upsetting because she’s a high risk pregnancy and I really want to know all the details. She’s not answering me. Her father, who lives with his secretary, and leaves his Scotch at her place to drink when he’s there, gets all the news. My daughter, her husband, and my X all have the same jobs..all actuaries and the secretary knows all the same people…I’m just on the outside…What the heck is this? I just wrote to her today to ask what she wants me to do other than drop dead. Any ideas??? We were better when she was a teen!! This is just crazy and hurtful!!

    • As the blog post says your daughter is trying to get you to understand her. While it is hard to be left out,telling her she wants you to drop dead is dramatic instead of problem solving. I would ask her to write you a letter about what she is so angry with you about so you can learn more about what’s a problem from her point of view. Ask her to join you in therapy to work on repairing the relationship. Ask her to bring the letter in to therapy to discuss with you & be open to learning more about who she is. Rhoda

  4. i and my mom fight daily.after collage when i come to home she say i am busy i will talk to u later can u please give me any suggestions .

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  1. Call me, “mommy”, tell me, “baby” | dawn's song

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