Millennial daughters want to grow up. Their Baby Boomer mothers don’t want to grow old. That sets up a dance of ambivalence and resentment that can last for years, leaving the relationship in tatters. So, what can mothers do to promote a healthier adult mother-daughter relationship? Better communication is one important key.
Here are ten DOs and DON’Ts that can help improve communication between mothers and their adult daughters:
DO find ways to change the way you speak. Does your so-called “advice” to your daughter consist mostly of criticism? Do you constantly notice ways she could improve her appearance, her home, her hair? If so, you are pushing her away. If she wants your advice, she’ll ask for it. And even when she does, be careful what you say. She is probably seeking validation, not a recommendation for change.
DO listen with empathy. Ask probing, open-ended questions to better understand her point of view. Try to imagine what it is like seeing the world through her eyes, the eyes of a 20- or 30-something dealing with circumstances and conditions that are different from those you faced when you were her age.
DO be the bearer of good news as well as bad. It’s ok to share bad news, but don’t let it dominate every conversation. Find ways to let your daughter know that your life is positive and fulfilling so that she’ll have one less thing to worry about. If your life isn’t positive and fulfilling, find ways to make it so.
DO ask directly for what you want or need. Indirect communication may be effective when you want a diamond bracelet from your husband for your anniversary, but it puts an unnecessary burden on the mother-adult relationship when she has to find the hidden message in everything you say. [Read more…]