Apr

26

2024

The Mother Relationship

We are delighted to present this new blog post, ahead of our upcoming online CPD: *Mothers and Daughters: A complex couple rooted in love & pain* with Victoria Settle on Friday 7th June, 10am to 4pm via Zoom, with catch-up available. 

The mother-daughter relationship can hold significant meaning in therapy due to its complexity and depth. The focus on this relationship in therapy offers a rich terrain for exploration, insight, and growth, providing an opportunity for individuals to understand themselves more deeply and cultivate healthier relationships with both their mothers and others

Watch the trailer for this workshop with Victoria Settle, former CEO at the Bowlby Centre.

The roots of the relationship

According to the Journal of Neuroscience, the mother-daughter relationship is known to be stronger than other parent-offspring relationship – one of the most profound and dynamic bonds in human society. It has been described as a labyrinth of complex emotions, shared experiences, mutual learning, and intense love.

The mother-daughter relationship serves as a foundational template for all future connections, making its dynamics intense and crucial. While some relationships develop healthily with trust, good communication and secure attachment, some mother and daughter bonds could be strained or unhealthy due to emotional disconnect or estrangement.

Here are a few examples of unhealthy mother and daughter relationship patterns

  1. Neglect and the Mother Wound: This concept refers to the psychological impact resulting from a troubled relationship with one’s mother, often due to neglect—both physical and emotional.
  2. Cold mother syndrome: this refers to a parenting style characterized by emotional distance, dismissiveness, and rejection. This type of mothering is often accompanied by a lack of emotional availability and neglect of a child’s emotional needs.
  3. Mother-Daughter Enmeshment: This occurs when the boundaries between mother and daughter become blurred, leading to the daughter’s decreased autonomy. Narcissistic tendencies in the mother can exacerbate this enmeshment.
  4. Unreliability: In some relationships, the mother’s behavior can be inconsistent, leaving the daughter uncertain about which version of her mother will show up. This inconsistency can lead to difficulties in forming healthy emotional connections.
  5. Control and Unhealthy Boundaries: Unhealthy boundaries may manifest in various forms, such as mothers relying too heavily on their daughters for emotional support or attempting to micromanage their lives. This can result in co-dependency and guilt trips when needs are not met.

Theoretical perspectives for therapists

Widening the range of perspectives can be incredibly valuable in understanding and addressing the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Therapists often draw from various theoretical frameworks to gain insights into these dynamics. Here are some perspectives therapists might consider:

Below are six types of perspectives to consider:

  1. Psychodynamic Perspective: This perspective views the mother-daughter relationship through the lens of unconscious dynamics, such as unresolved conflicts or patterns passed down through generations. Therapists may explore how early childhood experiences with the mother influence the daughter’s emotions, behaviors, and relationships later in life.
  2. Attachment Theory: Attachment theory emphasizes the importance of early relationships, particularly the mother-child bond, in shaping a person’s sense of security and ability to form healthy relationships. Therapists may assess the quality of attachment between the mother and daughter and work to repair any disruptions or insecure attachments that may be present.
  3. Family Systems Theory: Family systems theory considers the mother-daughter relationship within the broader context of the family system. Therapists may examine how interactions between the mother and daughter are influenced by family dynamics, roles, and communication patterns. Interventions may focus on improving communication and boundary-setting within the family system.
  4. Feminist Perspective: A feminist perspective on the mother-daughter relationship acknowledges the impact of gender socialization and power dynamics. Therapists may explore how societal expectations and stereotypes shape the roles and experiences of mothers and daughters, and empower clients to challenge traditional gender norms and assert their autonomy.
  5. Cultural Perspective: Cultural factors play a significant role in shaping mother-daughter relationships, influencing expectations, communication styles, and values. Therapists may consider how cultural norms and beliefs impact the dynamics between mothers and daughters and may tailor interventions to honor and respect cultural differences.
  6. Narrative Therapy: Narrative therapy focuses on the stories people tell about themselves and their relationships. Therapists may help mothers and daughters explore the narratives they hold about each other and co-construct new, more empowering narratives that promote understanding, empathy, and resilience.

By considering these various perspectives, therapists can offer more nuanced and holistic support to clients navigating the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Each perspective brings unique insights and tools for understanding and facilitating growth and healing.

Resources

Jasmin Lee Cori The Emotionally Absent Mother: How to Recognize and Cope with the Invisible Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect (The Experiment; 2nd edition, 2017)

Lindsay C Gibson Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents (New Harbinger, 2015)

Kelly McDaniel Mother Hunger: How Adult Daughters Can Understand and Heal from Lost Nurturance, Protection and Guidance (Hay House UK, 2021)

Rosjke Hasseldine The Mother-Daughter Puzzle: A New Generational Understanding of the Mother-Daughter Relationship (Women’s Bookshelf Publishing, 2017)

Upcoming Workshop with Victoria Settle

Want to explore more? Join us for our upcoming workshop – *Mothers and Daughters – A complex couple rooted in love & pain* with Victoria Settle on Friday 7th June, 10am to 4pm via Zoom, with catch-up available.

Beginning with Winnicott’s statement that “there is no such thing as a baby”, we will look at how we might explore the impact of the maternal on a daughter and the issues around the identification that each has to one another. We will consider potential projections, hopes, desires, fears, and over-identifications.

Join our Therapy Community on Facebook

We have recently created a private Facebook Group for therapists which might be of interest to you if you are on social media? You will need to answer all 3 Joining Questions and agree to the Group Rules to join the Group!

Click Here to Join *The Therapy Partnership* Facebook Group – Be Part of the Therapy Community!

* There are affiliate links in this post, if you buy a book using one of these affiliate links we will get a very small fee. It all helps! Thank you!

Latest Courses

Mothers and Daughters: A complex couple…

Fri June 7th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Friday 7th June 2024. ONLINE via Zoom and CATCH-UP for 28 days. Event Times: 10.00am – 4.00pm GMT (London)/ 11.00am – 5.00pm CET (Paris)/ 5.00am – 11.00am EST (New York).…

Working with Complexity in Grief

Fri October 18th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Friday 18th October 2024. ONLINE via Zoom and CATCH-UP for 28 days. Event Times: 10.00am – 4.00pm GMT (London)/ 11.00am – 5.00pm CET (Paris)/ 5.00am – 11.00am EST (New York).…

Internal Family Systems: An Introduction

Fri November 8th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Friday 8th November 2024. ONLINE via Zoom and CATCH-UP for 28 days. Event Times: 10.00am – 4.00pm GMT (London)/ 11.00am – 5.00pm CET (Paris)/ 5.00am – 11.00am EST (New York).…

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