1. Parenting

Readers Respond: My Mother-Daughter Conflict

Responses: 15


Mothers and daughters should be close, for they have so much in common. In reality, however, mother-daughter conflicts are heartrendingly common and often negatively impact grandparents' relationships with their grandchildren. Readers are invited to tell about their mother-daughter conflict and any insights to be gained from it. We'd prefer a happy ending, but if your story doesn't have one, perhaps others can still learn from it.

Happy Birthday, Nanna's Angel

Today, my granddaughter Tahlia, turns 5. It is nearly 2 years since I have seen her or my grandson Lochlan. My daughter did the one thing to me that she knew would break my heart, and that was to remove the kids from my life. She achieved what she set out to do. As long as I have breath in my body, I will never know peace. Happy birthday - Nanna loves you xxxxx Today, my angel, Tahlia, turns 5. It is nearly 2 years since I have seen her or my grandson Lochlan. My daughter did the one thing to me that she knew would truly break my heart. She removed the kids from my life. She achieved what she set out to do and as long as I have breath in my body, I will never know peace.
—Guest Mummysnanna

Mother-Daughter Conflict

I have a terrible relationship with my only daughter, my only child. Yes, she is a adult now, but makes so many mistakes at age 40. She is unable to sustain a relationhip with men, and frankly is not a good mother at all. I don't say anything to her on a constant basis but when I do ask her a question she perceives it as a critique and blows up. My husband feels that she is jealous of me. He feels she resents my mothering nuturing skills becaue he feels she knows she has none. Of course, he has not said a word to her about his feelings. I do spend all my time looking after her children and they love me which I think she resents. We are going to begin family therapy soon which I hope will help.
—Guest Patricia

Tina at DoubleScoop.net

I am sorry about this situation. I am speaking as a mom, and thought I would add my two cents. When I had my first child, I also worked full time. It was so challenging emotionally and logistically, and I felt and saw myself becoming extremely protective of my child. Maybe it was because I felt guilty I couldn't be with her. I have no idea. In any case, my mother in law handled it beautifully. She did not jump in and tell me what mistakes I was making, nor did she pipe in with advice. Instead, she stood back, and asked me what worked for me. Even though I probably was wrong, she did whatever I thought was right. End result: I trust her with my kids, and can even laugh at some of the things I did with my kids when they were younger. Chances are, this isn't about you. Your daughter is right on that. I really think it is important to remember that, and think about the challenges they are facing, rather than criticizing their parenting. With luck, you'll all be chuckling about it one day.
—Guest tina marquis

It's Not Easy being a MOM

My daughter and I ride a current that ebbs and flows, creates tidal waves and settles into still calm waters. At our most stormy time, someone suggested that I go into her room and lie on her bed and try to imagine what it is like to be her. An avalanche of tears followed and changed the way I saw her from then on. The greatest time we shared was when she asked me to spend the night in the hospital after her first baby was born so that her husband could go home and get some sleep. At 3:00 they brought my grandchild to her and I witnessed the miracle of her mothering, which has become a sacred memory. Now I try to love her through her children, and I take every chance to build her up in her own eyes and in the eyes of her children. It's like having a second chance to repair the damage I unknowingly did as a young inexperienced mom. It's not an easy job, being a mom, but we have each other to learn from, laugh with and lean on.
—Guest Gwen Bullock

Stronger Bond After My Baby

My mother and I had always experienced clashes (some more serious than others). But after my son was born, she and I became close in a new way I hadn't expected or imagined. Today, 10 years later, we understand each other in a new way that hadn't been there before I became a mother myself.
—Guest Katherine

Moving Forward

My mother and me had the biggest conflict when she started dating a man of MY age. That was hard to digest, but doable. The situation exploded when I was invited to spend a summer at her place (I live abroad) and she 'forgot' to tell me that they were living together. That time was a hell and we spent a whole year without talking after that. Now we feign that it never happened and avoid certain topics. We try to respect each other's lives and limits and enjoy what we can share.

I'm Old and Could Die Tomorrow

I work from a home office, but it's still work with a real schedule to keep and real clients who expect to get what they pay for. My retired mother doesn't seem to "get" that fact. She calls daily and spends an average of 2 hours complaining about my dad, grown siblings, all the grandkids, etc. When she's bored and wants to go out, I'm supposed to drop everything and go get her immediately. (She drives, it's just "more fun" if I do the driving.) If I tell her I can't, I get the "I'm old and could die tomorrow. Then you won't have to be bothered with me wanting to go to lunch, shopping or on a trip" speech. After 6 years of this, I started responding with, "I know, but if I get fired, we'll have to move in with you. Four extra people underfoot (2 being teenage girls) would probably kill you off a lot sooner!"
—Guest Mary

She's My Child - Not Yours!

When my 17-year-old daughter wanted a tattoo, she thought it out and created a design that had meaning (and looked elegant). My husband & I agreed to match her funds and took her to an artist we know/trust. My mom hit the ceiling! For a week, I got daily phone calls ripping apart our decision. Pointing out the obvious--she was 21 days away from turning 18 and being legal, she could jump in the car and drive 20 minutes to a neighboring state with a "letter of permission" from parents (not notarized & could be signed by anyone) and get it--had no bearing. I finally got tired of the daily verbal beatings and snapped, pointing out that I am the 45-year-old mother and I am the one who gets to make the decision - NOT her! The real kicker? My brother's daughter is 9 days older than mine. Her 18th b-day gift from her parents? A tattoo! My mom's response? Fawning over my brother for his wise decision to make her wait until she was old enough to choose. Oh yeah! 21 days makes a huge difference in maturity!
—Guest Kathy

Oversentimentalizing the Relationship

Mothers and daughters are just like any other people. Some you like, some you don't. The two of us couldn't have been more different -- and there was no love on either side.


I have always had a wonderful relationship with both my mother and my mother-in-law. I believe this is because both of them have complete respect for my right and my husband's to make our own decisions. They may hint at advice, but mostly only give advice when asked. Whatever we decide with the kids, they stick to it 100% no questions asked. Because of this, we are more likely to ask their advice or grant whatever requests they may have. (Like my father-in-law's desire to "sneak" the kids a handful of candy on the way out the door every time we visit.)
—Guest CB

Won't Do That Again

When my husband and I moved back to my hometown, we gave my mother a key in case we ever locked ourselves out. Little did we know she'd decide that I had been electrocuted or fallen and been knocked out if I didn't answer the phone on the 2nd ring. After weeks of Mom suddenly bursting in the house while I was washing my hair, taking a shower, or vacuuming, she apparently tried to call while I was at the grocery store and my husband was home alone. She burst into the house as he walked out of the bathroom from taking a shower...and had no towel on. Yeah, won't do that again.
—Guest MarionL

Dead in a Ditch

My grandmother was ill and my mom stressed out from driving 4-hour round trips a couple times a week to help care for her. During this time I didn't call her often because she called me EVERY single morning. At some point this apparently morphed to I never called her because one day when mom was particularly stressed out, she started in on me about never checking in on her. When I protested that we talked every day, she fumed a while longer and then commented. "I could be dead in a ditch for a week and you'd never know it . . . and that's what I tell everybody too!"
—Guest Wilma

All This Over One Word

When I was a junior or senior in high school, I wrote down a letter dictated by a handicapped friend. In the letter was the word "shit." At some point during the week my mother combed through my room and found this letter. Sunday morning as my friends and I were walking out the door to go to church, mom cornered me with a very loud rant (without telling me she had found the letter). "I thought you were a good Christian child! Maybe you should stay home from church and read your Bible!" Of course my friends bolted out the door before they started laughing as I stood there in shock, trying to figure out what was going on, and trying not to laugh. A couple decades later mom still thinks her response was appropriate.
—Guest Alana

You Want Me to Take the Phone WHERE?

When I first started working from home (in the same town as my mother), my mother apparently took this as the same thing as moving back into her house. Instantly she was in every facet of my life every minute of the day. At one point she lectured me very angrily because I didn't take the phone into the bathroom with me . . . because if someone called it "might be an emergency."
—Guest JessieM

Accepting My Daughter As A Grown-Up

It took me a long time to realize that my daughter was all grown-up and didn't need my constant advice. Once I did, she became eager to spend time with me adult-to-adult, and we have enjoyed this relationship immensely.
—Guest Elizabeth

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