With Mother’s Day in just a few days, we can’t help but contemplatively think of mother-daughter relationships. Whether you have a Gilmore Girls-close relationship with your mom, or a waaaay more distant one, there are things you can do right now to strengthen your relationship with the woman who raised you.
After all, our moms influence us whether we like it or not. In some small way, they shaped our values and our characters, and even when we don’t realize it, we’re living out the things we learned under their roof. Of course, there are all kinds of moms out there, from single moms to coupled up ones, from ones we talk to daily to ones we talk to monthly. No matter what kind of you mom you have, Mother’s Day is the time to celebrate her.
Here are six things you can today that will strengthen your relationship with your mom.
1Communicate with her
Yes, we all know the old adage: “Communication is key.” And that’s because it’s true. HelloGiggles spoke with Kate Alcamo, licensed clinical marriage and family therapist (LCMFT) at her clinic, the Family Therapy Clinic of Bethesda, who agrees that mother-daughter relationships are challenging.
“Part of maintaining a healthy mother-daughter relationship is communicating with your mom. You don’t need to share all of your secrets, but letting her into your life can be so important,” Alcamo tells HG. “Initiate the connection yourself!”
We couldn’t agree more, even if it may be awkward at first. But, like anything else, the more we practice it, the easier it becomes.
2Change the ~way~ you communicate
Speaking of communication, Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction, thinks it’s all about the ~way~ we communicate with our moms. To strengthen our relationships with our maternal figures, we need to switch things up.
“Change your conversation to be more like the conversations you have with friends,” Dr. Tessina tells HG. “Don’t limit it strictly to family memories, gossip about family members, or questions about your personal life.”
Dr. Tessina recommends thinking about all the topics you would normally talk about with your buddies—work, politics, pop culture—and chat about it with your mom. You’ll find a lot more in common than you might expect.
3Act like an adult—and treat your mom like one, too
Yas for being adults and living on our own. However, sometimes when we no longer live with our parents, the dynamic changes.
“To change your relationship with your family — or mom — from that of a dependent child to a fully respected adult, you must first change the way you think of yourself in relationship to her,” Dr. Tessina says. “In other words, to stop being treated as you were when you were a child, you must stop behaving the way you did as a child.”
Similarly, treat your mom like an adult as well, and you’ll find that your relationship will get more mature in the blink of an eye.
4Offer her advice instead of always asking for it
“Don’t let your role slide into all giving or all receiving,” Dr. Tessina advises. “Try to keep the score even, as you probably do with your friends. And try not to ask your mother for advice—try offering your own expertise instead, as you would to a friend.”
This will making bonding a lot easier, since you won’t be falling back into the role of daughter while she has to play all-knowing mother.
Sure, maybe moms repeat the same thing again and again. Or maybe they forget what we told them five minutes ago. But before we lose it on them, we need to practice patience, even when it’s a challenge.
“Don’t react if your parent does or says something annoying,” Dr. Tessina tells HG. “Just ignore it, and change the subject. In general, treat your mother as if she were the mother of someone you care about, and not your own.”
We’re sure there will be a lot less fights between moms and daughters everywhere if we all put this into practice!
6Remember that moms are people, too
“Moms are people too,” Alcamo reminds us. “Sometimes we put our moms on pedestals and forget that they are people, too, with feelings, challenges, a past, and interests of their own.” When we think of them as just moms, it becomes harder to interact with them on a day-to-day basis.
Keep in mind your mom has good and bad days, just like you, and she deserves a break when she’s feeling overwhelmed. Put yourself in her shoes whenever you can so you understand where she’s coming from. This will help you practice forgiveness, help her when she needs it, and learn more about who she truly is.
The final word
In summation, Dr. Tessisa suggests, “Just relax and just be your adult self. You’ll find that mothers are more fun after you leave your old childhood behavior patterns and emotional leftovers behind.”
Okay, is it just us, or does anyone else feel like going and hugging their moms right now? #MotherDaughterGoals, here we come.