Lets talk about the mother-daughter relationship. This coming Sunday is Mothers Day in Mauritius and in France, and it’s the day our family celebrates my mum, my mother-in-law and me. I know it is nowhere near Mothers Day in the UK (where my mum lives) but it’s easier for me to just have one date to remember, and it means my mum gets an impromptu celebration of her as well as on the actual UK Mothers Day. That’s the benefit of having 5 children!
I want to take the opportunity of it being Mothers Day (well for some of us) to look at the mother-daughter relationship as it can be such a fraught one.
Do you think that your mum was the best mother in the world, and you do your best to emulate her parenting with your own kids? Are you terrified of becoming your mum and parenting like her so you are in a constant battle to do things differently? Or are you somewhere in between?
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been born to a woman who I found to be the most amazing mum. Here I am with her as a newborn back in 1976 🙂
Things can’t have been easy for my mum raising 5 children in the 70s and 80s. I love my brothers and sisters to death but bloody hell we were a handful. Let’s say that we are all pretty strong-willed or “spirited” and that our house was very noisy. Something that was completely normal to me growing up, but as I look back as a mum of two I wonder how on earth my mum escaped these child-rearing years with her sanity intact. I think I would have ended up a roaring alcoholic to be honest.
I was always very close to my mum growing up as I have two older sisters and two younger brothers; age and gender meant that they naturally paired off into two separate teams. My sisters are 4 and 5 years older than me so I was rarely allowed to play with them. Understandably. And my brothers always welcomed me to play but I was never interested in playing Action Man or the A-Team. Inevitably I would hunt my mum out, often in the kitchen, listening to Radio 4, as she prepared dinner or did another of the eleventy billion chores that a mum of five always had to do.
We would chat for a bit before she sent me on my way to play, leaving her to listen to The Archers or another of her favourite programmes in peace.
People always say that mums and daughters grow apart during the teenage years, but again I was lucky in that aspect because we grew closer together.
Mum had a knack of getting me to open up to her and share what was going on in my life with absolutely zero judgement. I would come home from parties as a 15 year old and tell her about the rum I’d tried:
Mum: “Did you like it?”
Me: “It was weird, it felt all burn-ey as it went down.”
Or even about the time I tried a joint, at the age of 15, at a house party:
Mum: “How did it make you feel?”
Me: “It didn’t really do anything. I don’t think I’ll bother again.”
It was very clever of her, whether it was a strategy or not, as I kept wanting to tell her everything. I didn’t get told off, I didn’t get judged, but I knew that if I did something “unsafe” she would find a way to make me understand it was dangerous.
And so we made it through the wilderness of my teenage years with barely a slammed door or a raised voice.
Mum also taught me that adults / parents can be wrong and she always apologised first if she felt she was in the wrong, which made it easier for me to do the same. And we had a very mature, respectful relationship.
As a nurse who was always open with me about the human body and sex, I had no problems ever asking my mum any questions about anything, and my friends over the years would often come to me saying “ask your mum if…I might be pregnant / it’s normal that my period is like this / I might have an STD” and so on.
My mum has continued to be there for me over the years, when I lived in France, when they were just an hour down the road from us in London, when we shared a house with them and a continent away in Mauritius. She was even in the delivery room with me when I had Clémence, getting my head back in the game when I started to lose it at the end.
Now as a mum to two girls myself I draw a huge amount on how she was with me to raise my daughters. Whilst I do some things differently (I’m not as strict but time has also moved on!) there is so much of Mum in me as I talk to them, as I guide them through life, as I teach them things. Especially Léna who will be a teenager at the end of this year.
I have a very close relationship with both my girls and as Léna heads towards full-on adolescence our bond grows stronger and stronger.
What have I learnt from my mother-daughter relationship that I use in my own parenting?
There is so much of my mum’s parenting that has got filtered down through me. I tell my girls that they can tell me anything, about anything. That they should never be ashamed or embarrassed and that I will always answer them honestly. I tell them that they can do or be whatever they want if they put their mind to it, and that I will love them no matter what they do and no matter who they end up with (as long as that person treats them well and they are happy).
I fully intend to practise the no-judgement approach on them as they get older, and hopefully they will confide in me in the same way I did with my mum nearly 30 years ago.
We can learn so much from our mums about the way we want to parent. Maybe we copy exactly what we grew up with. Maybe we run in the opposite direction. Maybe we take some bits onboard and reject others. The key to being a good mum, and harnessing that mother-daughter relationship, I find is to do it our way, the way we are comfortable, and to not let others judge us.
As you can see from the photo Léna has a slightly eccentric hairstyle. This is something she asked for and neither Ben nor I saw any harm in it. Having her hair like this makes her happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else, so it was a no-brainer for us.
We talk openly to Léna about sex, puberty, the human body, emotions, feelings and much more, so she is fully equipped to make her way through the craziness that is life.
No one but you knows the best way for YOU to parent your own children. If it feels right to YOU then it probably is the exact right way to be doing things. So don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. And if you are not close to your mum / if you don’t like the way she raised you, then you can do things a completely different way.
Lots of the women I work with in my Life Reboot Camp have some issue or other with their mums so the week beginning 3rd June I will be running a live workshop on how to deal with our own mother-daughter relationship. If this is something that could help you do consider joining Life Reboot Camp so you can attend this free live workshop (and many other live monthly workshops on various different topics that I run for my Life Reboot Campers). Find out more about Life Reboot Camp here
What is your mother-daughter relationship? Feel free to share anonymously in the comments below if this is a difficult subject for you.
And if Mothers Day is hard for you for whatever reason then be gentle to yourself when that day comes round for you.
Sending you so much love,
P.S. Mum – I know you’re probably reading this so THANK YOU for everything. I know you think you are nothing special but you are the most amazing mum, thank you for the last 43+ years. As your child I am one of very few people who can actually judge you on this one. If my mothering is even half as good as yours I’ll consider myself a success. Lots of love, can’t wait to see you very soon xxx
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