Mother-Daughter Friendships - FamilyEducation

Mothers and Adult Daughters: Is It Possible to Have a Friendship?

Learn about the process of mothers becoming friends with their adult daughters.

Don't worry if you and your daughter aren't friends now. Therapist Dr. Susan Gordon works mostly with women trying to negotiate relationships with important people in their lives, and she says, "Any relationship can be negotiated if you have the skills." That includes friendships with other women, a spouse, your mother, or your daughter.

What this process involves, Gordon feels, is…

  1. Loving and accepting one another.
  2. Respecting each other's boundaries.
  3. Discussing and negotiating boundaries.
  4. Showing respect for boundaries.
  5. Not intruding upon private areas that are not comfortable to share.
  6. Accepting that you have the option to stand back when either mother or daughter wants you to be closer or more revealing and you don't want to.
  7. Finding a degree of closeness as friends that is comfortable for both.
  8. Allowing the space that each other needs.
  9. Providing room for others to enter one another's life.

While all of these nine points are equally important, the final one requires further explanation.

Making Room for Other Friendships

One of the primary tenants of friendship, Gordon notes, is allowing each other the freedom to broaden their circle of friends. Demanding exclusivity can damage an otherwise satisfying friendship. This is particularly critical for mother and daughter.

Their friendship is too tight and too close if there isn't room for anyone else, says Dr. Gordon. "A mother or a daughter should not feel threatened by the other bringing new people into their lives who create loving relationships."

This includes a daughter's spouse, her in-laws, or Mom's new husband.

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