Why are mothers so good

Mothers and Daughters: Unconditional Love or Limitless Conflict?

For 15 years I have been writing journalistic articles on parenting and family issues. The topic "Mother-daughter relationship" was not there yet. I am a daughter myself (logically). And mother of a daughter for the past year and a half. I should have something to say on this subject. Or?

Is the father-son relationship really that different?

Admittedly, I did not fully understand the scope of the topic at first. Is the mother-daughter relationship really so different from that? Father daughter relationship? Or the relationship between parents and son? With these questions I open my conversation with the psychotherapist Claudia Haarmann. And admit to her directly: "It is the first time that I deal with it." An audible sigh slips from my interview partner. Then a laugh. This is followed by the sentence: "Where should I start?"

For a long time the mother is the daughter's only role model

The expert first makes one thing clear: "These relationships are absolutely not comparable. The son, like the daughter, develops from the bond with the mother. However, by the age of three, four or five years at the latest, he or she is oriented towards the father." In other words: the son is offered a completely new identity structure early in life. For the daughter, the mother's female role model remains unchallenged for a long time. As a baby, as a little girl, as a young child. Then comes puberty: "An individualization process begins," explains Claudia Haarmann, "the daughter is looking for one own identity. She wants to find out for herself: 'Who am I if I'm not mom? How do I differ from her? '"

During this process, the daughters often distance themselves so much that they now rate the once beloved mummy role model as a negative example and "embarrassing". "I don't even want to imagine that one day my daughter will see me like that too!" "And I wish you that exactly that happens," says Claudia Haarmann calmly. "Because it is so important for your daughter's personal development."

A good relationship needs closeness and distance

Both sides must be able to endure this phase of self-discovery. Which is all the more difficult when the relationship is biased. "The first years of a child's life shape the ability to have relationships throughout life," explains Claudia Haarmann. The bond shouldn't be overly tight in the first few years: "If I don't give my child any freedom, independence and autonomy will fall by the wayside."

According to the expert, this begins with toddlers whose parents cannot move a meter from the side of their offspring. Or the opposite is the case: "I keep getting to know women who are completely alien to cuddling or even just hugging their own mother from their childhood. There is of course a great lack of closeness."

What if the mother-daughter relationship is disturbed?

Veronika from Bergheim describes her childhood exactly according to this pattern: "I had a roof over my head, always a full fridge. But love, closeness, just a hug - something like that was completely missing." Her parents separated when she was twelve years old. Veronika moved in with her boyfriend at the age of 17 - and was happy about the distance. Your mother not: "From then on, I only got accusations. That I don't get in touch too often, that I never come to visit." When the allegations and insults became too much, Veronika stopped contact. After two or three years there was an attempt to get closer. But it was less than two weeks before the same accusations came up as then: "What kind of daughter I am anyway, she asked, and that I was never there for her." Veronika's cell phone came back with new reproachful messages at any time of the day or night. Until she made a decision - for the second time in her life: "I blocked the number. Told myself: Until here and no further." Veronika is 38 years old today and a mother herself. She sees her experience as a warning negative example of how one should definitely not fulfill this role.

Laura from Leipzig tells me her story during her lunch break. Her parents separated when she was 13 - and required their children to make a quick decision. It was easy for Laura: She went to see Papa. Her mother previously referred to her as a 'block on the leg'. "She told me she finally got her Life I wanted to live. "In this life Laura only played a role because she went to the same school in which her mother worked. This went on until she was 18. Then Laura also started an approach. Unsuccessful.

"My mother is a very calculative person. She never allowed feelings of motherhood," Laura is sure. Laura experiences a key event when she is in psychosomatic treatment for depression: her therapists initiate a discussion with parents, her mother appears - and loses control during the conversation: "She screamed: 'There are no feelings, just don't imagine that there are is something! 'And then she said that I was just as crazy as my father. " Since then, there has been radio silence between her and her mother - also on the advice of the experts. Laura is 23 years old today and is studying veterinary medicine: "Working with animals gives me a lot, they don't judge like humans do." Laura still wants to wait with her own children. When the time comes, she too wants to do better than her mother.

How can I defuse conflicts before they escalate?

But how exactly do you do it better? Can you see extreme developments in the relationship recognize them with their own daughter in good time - and even prevent them before they escalate, I ask the expert. "Difficult," admits Claudia Haarmann. To do this, mother and child must first of all recognize for themselves that they are in a conflict-ridden relationship: "What may seem obviously difficult from the outside is initially normality for the women involved." Until small problems turn into massive conflicts. As is so often the case in life, a healthy gut feeling helps here: "Anyone who has an unfulfilled longing for their own child feels that she should be vigilant as a mother, "advises Claudia Haarmann." If my daughter is very hostile towards me and I become quick-tempered myself, then that is a clear sign: Something is not vibrating properly here. "

Veronika and Laura answered a call from me: I looked online for women who had broken off contact with their mother and wanted to talk about their difficult mother-daughter relationship. So many women contacted me within 24 hours that I have not yet been able to answer all of them. My mother also reads the appeal - and writes me troubled lines in the middle of the night: "No contact with daughter? I can't imagine that! "She sends the message without a laughing smiley face or other emojis, as usual. I have a little bit of that feeling, just the thought that her daughter is dealing with this subject depresses her. The next morning I ask: "For five generations, from my grandma to my granddaughters, breaking off contact would be unthinkable for me," she states. When I ask her how our family is doing it, she doesn't have to think long: "We talk! Always! About everything!"

Talking is the first step

I have to laugh quietly. My mother is a communication trainer. Talking is her job. Most of the time she even talks abouthow you really talk to each other. I guess I was born with a small home advantage. In my interview, the expert confirms that the first step is always a mutual discussion. "If it doesn't work one-to-one, you can have the help of an expert," says Claudia Haarmann. Her advice to all mothers: "Make your daughter feel:I'm there. And you are great the way you are! That is what makes a healthy relationship ”. I briefly remember a phone call nine years ago.

I had just quit my agency job - with no new job in prospect. I had carefully worked out my words for the conversation with my parents. When I finished, there wasn't even the slightest hint of a break on the phone. My mother immediately shot out: "I'm proud of you! It takes courage. We'll help you when you need us." A reaction that, in retrospect, I give her even more credit than I did back then. Because I know that even in this phase of life she would never have turned down a secure, well-paid job. The expert Claudia Haarmann also emphasizes in our conversation that mothers cannot expect their daughters to do everything exactly as they do: "There can be differences, no harmony."

If you manage to respect that, you will find a healthy one at the end of the exhausting phase of puberty Mother-daughter relationship - in which two women of different generations can have a loving, good relationship at eye level. I have now internalized that this is something very special. Thanks, mummy.

Our expert

Claudia Haarmann, psychotherapeutic alternative practitioner, journalist and author (see book tips on this page). Her therapeutic practice is in Essen. Current seminars and readings (throughout Germany) at claudia-haarmann.de