We frequently get calls for family therapy, specifically regarding troubled mother/daughter relationships. These include young parents with school- or preschool-aged children, middle-aged women with their teenage/young adult daughters, and even up to elderly women who still struggle with having a proper relationship with their adult daughters.
Why does this particular relationship so often run into trouble? The truth is, there is probably just as much opportunity for conflict with fathers and with sons. However, since our culture frowns upon men expressing emotion (apart from the emotion of anger) and expects women to be more “emotional,” the conflict between a mother and daughter is usually much more out in the open. (Men are more likely to go silent and bury their feelings and resentments.) Furthermore, it is considered acceptable for women to go to a therapist and discuss their feelings and relationships; for two men to seek professional help to speak about how they feel about each other runs counter to cultural messages about manhood.
Although these cultural messages are slowly changing, it is still most common to hear people talk about their fathers as stoic, distant, even cold, whereas mothers are more often described as emotionally expressive. Some children experience this in a positive way; others experience an extreme version of it, such as significant anxiety, depression, or hysterical behavior. Because of this male/female distinction, relationships between women are more likely to develop high levels of conflict, while relationships involving men are more likely to turn into a cold war.
That said, family relationships of all stripes are liable to go sour if not cared for. And even those that are reasonably solid go through periods of struggle in difficult times, and especially in times of transition. Many parent-child dyads experience conflict when the son starts school, when the daughter has her own children, when the parent retires, and during other similar life transitions.
We’re here to help with these difficult periods in your life. Contact us today to find out how our family therapy services can help you!