Mother and Daughter Friendships: Can They Grow Sweeter Over Time?

By on May 12, 2013
a younger woman giving older woman flowers

By Margaret Bhola –

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I took the liberty of asking my two adult daughters questions about their relationship with me as their mother. As coauthor of Women I Want to Grow Old With, with Diane Gage Lofgren, I believe that mothers and daughters have a special bond. We may not be “friends” per se, but our woman-to-woman relationship can be as fulfilling as any friendship and also uniquely sacred.

At first, I was hesitant to reach out, thinking my girls might find it a bit strange that their mom was interviewing them, but my desire to have in-depth conversations with my daughters, women I want to grow old with, won out. I started by asking, “What do you find most important about your relationship with your mother?” It’s a seemingly innocent question and a great beginning to the conversation about mother-daughter relationships.

My youngest daughter, Marge, shared that she loved the “full self-expression” in our relationship because it gave her more confidence in showing her love for me and sharing her dreams and aspirations with me. You can imagine my delight in hearing my daughter also felt our openness with each other was very effective in resolving problems. A two-way street with mutual effort being put into our mother-daughter friendship was very satisfying to her.

With Marge’s response, I realize that having close, intimate relationships with my daughters has always been important to me. There’s so much that women can say and do “woman to woman,”  and that a commitment[D1]  to be honest and open takes on different expressions over time. Today there is a playfulness and enjoyment that I believe age and appreciation of each other allows for. As my daughter reminds me, “An additional bonus in our relationship is that you have good taste in shoes=)”.

When asking my daughters what is different today in our relationship compared to a decade ago, MargE shared that “Ten years ago I think I did things “because I had to”— Mom says I have to be home at 10pm. Now, I worry about how things affect my mom, and consider her as a person with feelings.”

My older daughter, Elizabeth, has gone through the ups and downs of being a step-mom. Walking in “mother shoes” has given her a new respect and ability to communicate in very honest ways with me. We’re able to laugh, cry, scream and philosophize about life and its twists and turns. How delicious—especially with a daughter.

When asking these two wonderful young women the question, “How do you and I grow together?” their responses were very touching and gave much pause for thought.

“We grow by evolving our conversations, such as not getting stuck in a ‘9-year-old child dynamic’ but  trying to address each other in the present, not the past,” says Elizabeth

“I think we also grow by updating our common interests. They are much different than 10 to15 years ago, and getting to know the person behind the ‘mother/daughter’ is helpful as well.” says MargE

We continue to share new and different parts of who we are while letting go of roles and stereotypes of the past. This is possibly the most fascinating opportunity in evolving and creating our relationships. Being able to enjoy each other in new ways, year after year, provides a richness and depth that has the future be even more exciting.

Not every woman has a biological daughter to grow and evolve with, but we can experience these moments of pleasure and depth in our woman-to-woman relationships especially with younger women. These may be your nieces, friends’ daughters, young women at work or professional mentees, I say, making the effort and commitment to be part of other young women’s lives allows for a wealth of blessings in our female relationships that aren’t attainable anywhere else.

On this Mother’s Day, we can all celebrate the many ways in which we “mother” and allow ourselves to be “mothered” in these special women-relationships. Honor each other and the paths chosen at this special time.

 

Diane Gage Lofgren and Margaret Bhola are the authors of Women I Want to Grow Old With http://womeniwanttogrowoldwith.com/book that sprang from Diane and Margaret’s mutual desire to foster their female friendships–and their friendship with each other. Diane is the author of nine books and the Chief Communication Officer for a national health organization. Margaret, a health advocate, effective leader and team coach, is a National Marketing Director for NSA International.


 

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Mother and Daughter Friendships: Can They Grow Sweeter Over Time?