The Core of the Mother-Daughter Dilemma

Learn about the three basic theories behind the mother-daughter dilemma.

The Core of the Mother-Daughter Dilemma

There are three basic theories that I want to offer up for your consideration. Each researcher assumes the answer to finding the core of the mother-daughter dilemma. Victoria Secunda, author of When You and Your Mother Can't Be Friends and feminist theorist S. Ruddick each talk about an inherent conflict in the mother-daughter relationship. Dr. Charney Hearst focuses more on a theme she found pervasive throughout most mother-daughter relationships. All three theories, in my estimation, offer valuable points that warrant our attention and merit the fame to blame!

Woman to Woman

How sad! When mothers and daughters get wrapped up in blaming each other for ill feelings or a conflict between them—wrong decisions, unhappiness, or any other possible conceivable problem—hostility arises that blocks the release of love. And love is the bond that puts everything else into its proper perspective.

Behind Theory Number 1

Ruddick points out two primary factors that in her opinion form the basis of the conflict:

  1. The simple fact that a mother and her daughter are and should be two separate persons.
  2. What fosters growth or happiness in one does not always do the same for the other.

Behind Theory Number 2

Secunda thinks the problem lies more in the fact that mothers and daughters have an inherent position of being allies and enemies. Here is what she means:

  1. Mothers and daughters share some aspects of their identities. However, there is just as much of a need to be different as there is to be similar.
  2. There is "a built-in and unavoidable tension that goes with being someone's child."
  3. There is a competition that mothers and daughters feel that encourages daughters to do things as well as or better than their moms.
  4. Daughters frequently feel that survival without their mothers would be impossible, despite the feelings that put moms and daughters at odds.

Behind Theory Number 3

Psychotherapist and author of For Mothers of Difficult Daughters (Villard, 1998), Dr. Charney Hearts claims that all mother-daughter relationships are set up for misunderstanding due to each participant's expectations. Mothers expect a reincarnation of self and an imitation of their behaviors. Daughters expect encouragement for individuality, approval of everything and all decisions, and lifetime nurturing. Both mothers and daughters feel disappointment in each other for not living up to these impossible expectations, Hearst concludes.

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