The Road to Healing: How to Fix a Strained Mother-Daughter Relationship
While the relationship between a mother and her daughter is largely portrayed as being nourishing, loving, and understanding, many individuals have experiences that deviate from this rosy picture the media presents.
In reality, many women are deprived of a healthy motherhood/daughterhood experience.
Once the rosy glasses come off, people may see layers of abuse, trauma, and confusion. In her powerful and inspirational memoir, “Mirror Mirror: A Collection of Memoirs and Stories,” Stephanie Hart narrates her experience with her mother, who was alternately loving and verbally abusive at times making her feel unworthy and unintelligent during her childhood.
Hart’s mother would offer affection and praise, one moment, only to follow it up with harsh disapproval of her personality and physical appearance, undermining the loving comfort and care.
If you’ve been struggling to navigate your relationship with an abusive mother or daughter, we’ve rounded up some ways to embark on the journey toward healing without exposing yourself to continual trauma.
Determine Whether the Relationship Can Be Salvaged
The first step to fixing a strained mother-daughter relationship is determining whether the relationship can be salvaged. While you may feel compelled to immediately make things right, understanding whether the emotionally laborious process will be fruitful or not is essential.
If your mother/daughter tends to exhibit toxic traits like gaslighting, physical/emotional/mental abuse, and manipulation, you may be exhausting your efforts and exposing yourself to prolonged trauma that may never heal.
Determine whether the battle is worth fighting to prevent repeatedly picking at scabs with no chances of healing. Not only will you end up hurting yourself by trying too hard at something that’s beyond repair, but you’ll also develop feelings of resentment against your mother/daughter. This will prevent you from maintaining distance and forgiving them for your own peace of mind.
Instead, the volatility will consume your life and deepen the emotional and mental trauma caused over the years.
Understand That There Will Be Differences
Once you’ve determined that the relationship can be healed, it’s essential that you understand that there will be differences. Keep subjectivities and patterns of behavior in mind to establish that it’s very unlikely that the road will be smooth and argument-free.
These differences in opinion will very likely engender feelings of frustration and helplessness.
Acknowledge that things won’t run smoothly to prepare yourself ahead of time and consciously practice patience as the conversation proceeds.
Ensure Mutual Communication by Actively Listening and Explaining
The best way to engage in a healthy conversation with your mother/daughter is ensuring you listen as much as you explain. Losing sight of one or the other could cause volatility and result in a heated discussion that doesn’t reach a productive outcome.
We recommend patiently listening to the other side and expressing yourself once they’ve finished. In addition, absorb everything that’s being communicated by staying present and giving the conversation the respect it deserves.
Remember, this is a genuine and heartfelt attempt at making things right. Your respect, attention, and patience will go a long way in reaching a healthy outcome.
Don’t Leave Room for the Conversation to Derail
Ensure that the conversation is streamlined, focused, and comprehensive with regard to the issue(s) being resolved. While you may feel compelled to resolve external issues if things are running smoothly, it’s very likely that the situation will get out of hand.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Be grateful that there’s some common ground being established and save external matters for later. We also recommend addressing the matter at hand thoroughly to prevent miscommunication.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries is a great way to conclude the conversation while properly sealing the wounds. Failing to set boundaries is very likely to cause repeated trauma in the future.
If your mother/daughter has made comments about your weight that have affected you in the past, we recommend communicating that there’s no room for any such remarks in the future. Be clear and firm to prevent feeling triggered and revisiting your trauma in the future.
Similarly, if you’ve noticed manipulation or gaslighting habits, communicate your lack of tolerance for such actions or comments.
Expressing your needs and wants while taking theirs into account will result in a fruitful conversation that begins the healing process.
Gain more insights into grappling with years of parental abuse by reading Stephanie Hart’s inspirational and vulnerable memoir. By navigating a fragile mother-daughter relationship, Hart recounts her journey towards happiness, gratitude, and self-worth.
Browse through a compelling excerpt from the memoir for a glimpse of what the powerful book holds. Hart has produced a collection of memories and stories over the years.