When Jane Roberts, a lawyer with 2 little girls, married 10 years ago, she felt a new type of freedom. It was the beginning of following the dreams of her heart. Jane said she no longer had to live up to parental expectations that had held her back from enjoying who she was deep inside.
Jane explains, “As a young girl, it was difficult for my parents to accept me as the vivacious person I am. They wanted me to be the quiet studious girl with glasses. My Mother would constantly point out other conservative girls I should emulate. No privilege was given to me being myself, particularly by my Father. He stifled the character of me and my elder sister. He was very controlling and more often than not, he was always in a domineering mood. I remember being very quiet, reserved and watchful through much of my schooling. He thought he was making me into a decent girl. Emotionally, he abused all of us. Not being the strongest of characters, my mother was unable to form her own opinion on things. My Dad considered me unruly. She followed suit in his perception of me.”
“The night after my wedding party, my husband and I walked into the hotel. It was as though I was walking on air. Something heavy had been lifted off me. I didn’t even stop to think about the heaviness. I was consumed in the freeness. I never had the worse of upbringings but I never felt as if my parents knew how to let me be myself within safe boundaries. Now married, I had none of that to worry about.”
During her youth, Jane sought to be herself through the only way she knew how. From the age of 13, she led a promiscuous life, did class A drugs and drank heavily. In 1997 she was left destitute. In her mind there were only one of two ways to go – to God, or, to feed her drug and alcohol abuse through prostitution. Her parents had brought her up well enough not to make the wrong decision. At a time when Jane describes there being a fork in the road she was walking, she decided to give her life to Christ. 5 years later she got married.
“I remember I was so happy for the first few years of marriage. I still am. But it being so fresh, many people would have thought I was flaunting it. Maybe I was. Certainly, I was in a happy place. I finished a law degree, and then my kids came along. I have a fantastic relationship with them and my husband and I really enjoy our time together. Through the Grace of God, we have the type of relationship many would crave. My home is a joyful home. I Thank God for that. “
Whilst Jane’s home was filled with joy, her relationship with her mum began to break down.
“My Mum is one of the loveliest people you could meet. She is very hardworking and I may even be like her in that sense. When I was younger my friends would say, “You are lucky to get on well with your mum.” On the whole we did get on well. But, she was heavily influenced by my Dad’s behaviour. My Dad was the typical man who never showed emotions. Never encouraged happiness or playing. He was very controlling of everything and everyone. Because of his attitude towards me, I think my Mother could never make up her mind as to whether I was good or bad. Whilst I could be relaxed with her, deep down she viewed me as troublesome. My Dad had painted this impression.
“As early as four or five years old, I remember he labelled me dubious. Our home life was dull. Here was I, this fun-loving character and the only way he know how to manage me was to shut me down. Being extrovert was seen mainly by my Dad as bad. In my late teens, early twenties, my way of getting back at my Dad was to truly shut down. I cut him out of every part of my personality. I gave him nothing. I suppose I was the typical rebellious teenager. My Mum observed the way I had shut him out. Admittedly, I was making a bad situation worse. The drugs I got involved with were showing me to be everything my Dad had ever said I was.”
“Once I got married my Dad changed a little. He certainly never made known any dissatisfaction towards me. Almost instantly I knew he wasn’t going to treat me as a little girl anymore. My mum on the other hand, became extremely critical. She wanted to tell me off all the time. And, told me I had to accept it. There were snide remarks at the way I was so happy with my husband and that I had never been that way with her. It was all my fault. She was asking why I had never come and cuddled her the way my kids did to me. No longer was our fairly relaxed mother-daughter relationship good anymore. She also wanted me to treat her in the reverential way my husband did because that was the way good girls did it.”
“Nothing I said or did was right. I was treading on eggshells – which worsened the situation. For me, I wanted to enjoy my Mum. I wanted her even more as a friend. It seemed she wanted to prove something. Prove, that she had done all her best in raising me and I had been an issue. Her behaviour towards me became confusing, and what was worse, my Mother used her position, and pleasing character to find solace and support in my husband. It caused rifts. I felt betrayed, confused and angry. Then I became bitter and began making my own comparisons. Every time she pointed out how different I was with my family, the angrier I became with the way she had not managed to make a happy home. It was becoming obvious in my mind why I had had that feeling of freedom when I got married.”
“Finally, I no longer wanted a friendship. I realised I had to learn to love my Mother in a new way that did not harm my relationship with my husband but allowed me to honour her as the women who had given birth to me.”
The Mother and Daughter relationship can be a tumultuous one. The female sexes have strong emotions and a natural mothering instinct. The clashes Jane faced with her Mother are classic. Mothers find it difficult to truly see their daughters as Mothers who don’t need, and in Jane’s case want, to be mothered. This sort of relationship can also be seen between mother-in-laws and daughters, where the daughter-in-law can never do anything right. When offspring get married, Mothers need to learn to let go and recognise the role reversal. It’s time to build on the relationship with your husband, find new interests and develop new hobbies. Instead of trying to nurture your daughter, nuture your grandchildren.
Commonly Mother’s can be very critical. Criticism does nothing more than cause the recipient to be defensive. It hardly ever causes change, only friction. If you think your married child is making mistakes, if you have not done so before, then this is the time to sit back and let them learn from them.
You may feel you are trying to find your identity now your daughter is making a family of her own. You don’t have to scream for respect, let it come naturally. It is time to ease off and enjoy the children you have brought up.
Daughters finding it difficult to get along with their Mother, should not take things to heart. Remember she has always been needed and it may not be easy for her to make the transition from being the protector. Train your mind to always see the good in her. Love is a gift and if there is one person who deserves it more than many, it’s her. Treat her with the love and respect she craves but learn how to draw a line between your mum and your new family. Set boundaries. Your priorities will be your husband, children and everything that supports them. Your mother may not be able to easily understand this change in focus but there needs to be a divine order. Bite your tongue. Unless your mother has realised where she now fits in your life, she’ll not see things your way. Quietly and gently show her where she can come in. It may mean that you don’t share so much of yourself, until you can find a happy medium. Do not allow her to come between you and your family, but give her your love.Leave a comment