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Family Matters

About this Blog

Linda Mintle, Ph.D. is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author of 16 books, a national expert on family issues and the psychology of food and weight. She's an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a national speaker, writer, and news contributor.

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I Love My Mother, But…


My new book, which released this week, addresses the sometimes complex mother-daughter relationship. But before getting into what I found, tell me, how would you finish this sentence, “I love my mother, but…”?

I asked women to email me their responses and what I found did not surprise me. I received everything from “but…she is controlling, critical, abusive, never there for me, self-absorbed, hard to deal with, always in my business,” to “she is an example of grace, my best friend, my true supporter and friend.” Let’s face it. When it comes to mother-daughter relationships, it gets complicated.

You can love your mom and still have issues with her. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you normal! We love to fantasize about having a more Brady-like family, in which we sit around a cup of coffee, sharing stories. There will be great talks, intimate times and fabulous memories. The acceptance and approval we long for will be given. Then, this momentary dreamlike trance is broken by her familiar voice, "Are you ever going to settle down with a real job and be like your sister?"

If you want to work on your relationship, you have to let go of idealistic pictures of family life. Mothers aren't all-knowing, all-powerful, or all-accepting. They don't anticipate your every need and make heroic efforts to meet them every time. This doesn't make them bad, evil, or even dysfunctional. It makes them human. I know this because I am a mother and had a mother! And I've learned, after 20-plus years of conducting therapy with mother-daughter pairs, that "change" has more to do with me than her.

It's too easy to blame mothers for all our problems and harder to change our own behavior. We know that mom can't be the perfect nurturer, but that rarely stops us from trying to make it true.

Maybe we daughters should practice a little more patience, forgiveness, and self-control when it comes to our moms. Perhaps we should revisit the biblical concept of honor. Even in the worst of situations, we should respect our mothers for giving us a chance to walk this Earth.

Next time you and mom butt heads, talk about it and see if you can work it out. The mother-daughter relationship is too important to ignore or cut off. Do what you can to improve your connection. You cannot change her, but you can change how you react to her and that will change the relationship. My hope for you is that after reading my new book, you will finish the sentence, “I love my mother, but we have issues we are working on and want to make this the best relationship possible.”



Promo: For practical help to get the most out of your relationship, get a copy of Dr. Linda’s I Love My Mother But…. Or enter to win a copy! To enter, just finish the title of the book in 50 words or less and submit your thoughts to drlindahelps@gmail.com to win. Hurry, the contest ends March 15, 2011.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Thursday, March 03, 2011 3:44 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: I Love My Mother, But…My mother didnot uderstand me but she did try to love. She was an example of God's love in many ways

My mother love me but did have trouble understanding me. She showed me God's love and prayed for me and talke to me. She encouraged me gave me advise that I did not hate but did not always understand at the time. She always encourage me to know God. At an early age I read the bible because she was frustrated with me and I felt awful about myself. When I read the bible I learn to understand my mother and people in general. I still made many mistakes but I knew was loved by my mother. She pointed me toward God which was where I learned to know myself and love myself as God does.
Left by talkinhan on Mar 04, 2011 2:31 PM

# RE: I Love My Mother, But…

Of course I love her, but just do not often agree. She did the best she knew how and always loves me, however her encouragement of my dating a 25 year old when I was 15, and getting into the whole "hope chest" picking out china and crystal when I was 17, double dating with parents thru my high school years, caused me to skip over that part of my growing up life which I have resented. I never spoke up as I was afraid of losing someone or their love. Now at age 68 I can see all these things, and allow myself to have feelings about much that I stifled in the past. I am now caregiver for my 90 year old mom, who is actually healthier than I am, but with God's grace He is guiding us and keeping us strong. Dad passed on a few months ago at 91 so life keeps changing, and I am still blessed to have my mom. I ask God for understanding and mostly patience! And now I can smile about what used to upset. I have learned how "not" to make my own daughter feel, and trust in the Lord to guide us
Left by spiritkindness on Mar 04, 2011 7:52 PM

# RE: I Love My Mother, But…

What about I love my daughter but...comment? Recently widowed at age 52. Adult daughter age 32 remains at home to help with minor children. I love her but need direction as to how to reinvent life after the death of my spouse of 33 years, Combined with the loss of a 25 year ministry I need direction as to how to fit all the pieces back together--any suggestions on finding a new direction to serve God--without an income? Added bonus--one child is Asperger Syndrome and needs routine..
Left by mercyseat on Mar 04, 2011 10:52 PM

# RE: I Love My Mother, But…

i love ma mum. she's not perfect so ill just learn to understnd her and she her as God sees her. ill build maself to learn from her. Dats love lookin byond peoples imperfection
Left by Jyeesmuis on Mar 07, 2011 8:08 AM

# RE: I Love My Mother, But…

... she'll be 79 next week and though still the talk of the town in her impeccable dress and heels (though 95% blind), she is getting more fragile .. by the day, it seems. The more I realize how close I am to losing her the less all the "buts" really matter, especially since I feel time is running out and she's not yet saved. So .. I love my mother AND still have her, so no more buts!
Left by Brigitte on Mar 08, 2011 2:40 PM

# I love my daughter but...

I was a single mom & struggled to keep a roof over our heads. After remarriage to a wonderful man my teen daughter decided to be rebellious, made life at home hell for my new husband. She left home at 18 then wanted to come back when her dad threw her out. She spent 21 months in Teen Challenge & came home & got pregnant. I supported her & her child 4 yrs. My husband died 10 yrs ago, 2 yrs ago I lost my job & after 6 months my daughter graciously paid for me to move to her state & live with them. Almost immediately everything I did to help around the house was wrong or not good enough. I am a quite, praying woman so I didn't interfere with their parenting or criticize. Since I have been here they lock up the food, leave me & go out to eat, shun & barely talk to me, & now after searching for a job they are throwing me out on the streets because they don't want to support me forever. Forgiveness has a daily exercise for me & I am free and peaceful and happy in the Lord!
Left by kamsinger on Mar 11, 2011 11:06 PM