What is a Healthy Mother Daughter Relationship

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Last updated on November 1st, 2021.

Healthy mother daughter relationships are defined by boundaries and qualities set forth by both the mother and daughter.  Both have a responsibility to one another, and the relationship should not be one-sided.  When correctly nurtured, the mother daughter relationship can be one of the best ones out there.

What is a healthy mother daughter relationship? A healthy mother daughter relationship is one that demonstrates love, even in the face of conflict.  It is one that establishes healthy boundaries and one in which neither party is self-seeking. 

The recipe for a healthy mother daughter relationship begins when the daughter is just a little girl.  It is important to maintain this relationship through adulthood.

In this article we are going to break the information up into six different topics as it relates to a healthy mother and daughter relationship:

  • The six traits of a healthy mother daughter relationship.
  • What is an enmeshed mother daughter relationship?
  • How do I have a good mother daughter relationship?
  • What are the qualities of a good mother?
  • Is it common that mothers are jealous of their daughters?
  • Why is a mother so important?

There are all types of mothers and daughters out there.  Unfortunately, not every relationship is the best.  Some mothers can become enmeshed in their daughters’ lives or jealous.  We will point out key traits possessed by these types of mothers.  

On the upside, there are many great mother daughter relationships out there, and we will also point out the qualities of these, not expanding as far as this article on what compassion means in a relationship but in enough depth to understand.   In healthy relationships, both mother and daughter hope for and foster personal growth in one another.

Check out some of our other related articles, such as how can I improve my father daughter relationship.

Article Topics

What is a Healthy Mother Daughter Relationship?

Healthy mother daughter relationships revolve around six particular traits, which we will discuss in detail throughout this section.

Six traits of a healthy mother daughter relationship:

  1. They spend the proper amount of time together
  2. They don’t engage in making each other feel guilty
  3. They don’t try to change each other into different versions of themselves
  4. They engage in positive conflict
  5. Both parties contribute to the relationship
  6. The mother allows the daughter to experience failure
What is a Healthy Mother Daughter Relationship - What is a Healthy Mother Daughter Relationship

1. They spend the proper amount of time together

All mother daughter relationships are different, and that is okay.  That being said, in a healthy relationship, the mother and daughter know the right amount of time to spend around one another to keep the relationship healthy.  This will look different for each mother daughter pair. 

Some mothers and daughters are best friends.  They are capable of spending loads of time together without creating conflict.  Others are not as close and need to limit the amount of time they spend together.

If being around your mom too much tends to strain the relationship or result in excessive arguing, you should probably dial back the amount of time you are spending together.  (Continue reading for advice related specifically to a mother and daughter relationship, however, check out are article on fixing a failing relationship for all relationships in general.)

Mothers and daughters are individual people.  Just like all relationships, this one has to be managed.  If you are spending the right amount of time around each other, then both of you leave encounters together feeling positive and uplifted by one another. 

2. They don’t engage in making each other feel guilty

Guilt is not a healthy tool to use in any relationship, including those between mothers and daughters.  Mothers and daughters who are overly critical of one another tend to experience worse relationships.  As with other relationships, mothers and daughters need to sense when it is time to forgive and move on from the past.

Continuously bringing up topics about which the other party feels guilty will only strain the relationship.  No one can be perfect, and no one wants to spend time around people who make them feel guilty.  Make the most of your relationship by moving past old hurts and eliminating “guilt speech” from your mother daughter relationship.

3. They don’t try to change each other into different versions of themselves

A mother and a daughter in a healthy relationship do not seek to change one another.  They accept each other for the people they are.  If a mother wishes her daughter was more like her, she needs to let this go. 

Likewise, if a daughter seeks to change her mother into a more status quo figure, this is not healthy either.  Appreciate one another for who you truly are.

In any positive relationship, people have to choose to ignore faults and accentuate the positive sometimes.  If your mother or daughter is not the person you think they should be, try honing in on the features your most appreciate or respect about them.  Focus on what makes the relationship good, not bad.

4. They engage in positive conflict

Conflict is natural in a mother daughter relationship.  It is important that both the mother and daughter know how to handle this conflict.  Sweeping it under the rug will only make things worse down the road. 

This allows for emotional build-up of anger.  One day, the dam will break and all of the old conflict will present itself.  Engage in conflict head-on, but do it in a positive way.

Never speak to each other in a demeaning or disrespectful way.  Present both sides of the argument, and take time to listen to the other person. Check out this article for more tips on how to handle arguments in a relationship

Never engage in name-calling.  If you cannot reach an agreement on an issue, sometimes it is best just to recognize that you have opposing viewpoints, and love each other anyway.

5. Both parties contribute to the relationship

Mother daughter relationships should not be one-sided.  Neither party should have to do all the work or make all the contributions to the relationship. 

Mothers should not have to fully support their grown daughters, and neither should a daughter have to be responsible for her mother.  Both mother and daughter should bring positive features to the relationship.

6. The mother allows the daughter to experience failure

Everyone needs help at times.  It is important that both mother and daughter are there for each other to lean on when times are hard.  This goes both ways.  If one of you is having a hard time right now, it may be that you can support the other when she is struggling down the road.

If a mother always comes to the rescue for her daughter, the relationship will never be healthy.  Wise mothers know that they have to let their daughters experience failure sometimes, so that they can grow and learn.  This is a balancing act, but in a healthy relationship, the mother does not always intervene when the daughter is struggling.

What is a Healthy Mother Daughter Relationship - The mother allows the daughter to experience failure

What Is An Enmeshed Mother Daughter Relationship?

In an enmeshed relationship, the roles of mother and daughter become too intertwined.  This is when the mother begins to live vicariously through her daughter.

Enmeshment affects the mother and daughter, both in negative ways.

  • What enmeshment looks like from the mother’s standpoint
  • What enmeshment looks like from the daughter’s standpoint

An enmeshed mother can best be described as one who does not adhere to boundaries in her relationship with her daughter.  She depends on her daughter for validation, entertainment, and companionship. 

This is not the role her daughter is supposed to serve.  The enmeshed mother may struggle with her own identity, and this is what propagates the problem.  In the case of extreme validation the mother may inadvertently emotionally abuse the daughter, wavering in between loving and jealous.  If this has been the case there are great narcissistic recovery programs available to help the victim learn to set boundaries, establish resilience and live their own lives independently.  

Enmeshed mothers tend to become over-involved in their daughter’s lives.  The enmeshed mother will want to become friends with her daughter’s friends.  She will not want to allow her daughter time to explore her own identity. 

This type of mother is basically living her life through her daughter.  She wants to be so involved, because she wants to absorb aspects of her daughter’s identity.

Daughters in enmeshed relationships often become resentful toward their mothers.  They may not mature as they should, because the relationship boundaries have been so blurry, and they have essentially been bound to their mothers’ sides. 

Typically the mother is drawing something from the enmeshed relationship, but the daughter is not.

Independence is not fostered in these relationships, and a daughter may have trouble assuming her own identity.  She may have spent lots of time trying to be the person her mother thinks she is or wants her to be.

How Do I Have a Good Mother Daughter Relationship?

There is a basic recipe for cultivating a good mother daughter relationship, as outlined in the list down below.

Aspects of having a good mother daughter relationship:

  • Foster trust
  • Set appropriate boundaries
  • Show respect
  • Fight fair

Trust is essential to any good relationship, particularly those between mothers and daughters.  Trust can often be a big issue during the daughter’s adolescence, but as daughters mature, they should work hard to gain their mother’s trust. 

Likewise, mothers should be transparent and trustworthy with their daughters.  If you make commitments to one another, keep them!

Trust involves honesty.  Both parties have to obligation to be honest with one another, even if the truth hurts!  Even after daughters have grown up, they should be in the habit of telling their mothers the truth. In an open and trustworthy relationship, both mother and daughter can flourish and enjoy each other’s company.

To avoid enmeshment, boundaries must be set.  When a daughter is still living at home, it is the mother’s responsibility to set boundaries for appropriate behavior, clothing, etc.  The daughter should follow these boundaries and talk through any conflict they may present respectfully.

Boundaries are also necessary once a daughter leaves the nest.  For instance, a newlywed daughter may need to set boundaries with her mother on how often she visits, or whether or not she calls before she arrives. 

It is important that both mother and daughter are allowed to be their own entities, and setting boundaries provides for this.

Healthy mother daughter relationships take into consideration the way they speak to one another.  It is important that both parties show respect, even when they disagree.  Disrespectful words should not be used to belittle either mother or daughter.

There’s a workshop that facilitates relationships by teaching individuals to break old relationship patters and form new ways of communication and teamwork! 

Mothers and daughters hold positions of vast importance in each other’s lives, and they should speak to each other as such. When conflict arises, if you want to maintain a good mother daughter relationship, you will pay close attention to how you handle it.  Keep the channels of communication open.  Do not shut down on one another. 

Even when there is seemingly no solution to an argument, continue to tell each other about your love for one another and demonstrate that love to each other.

Willow Tree Close to Me - Sculpted and Hand Painted Figure

What Are The Qualities of a Good Mother?

There are several qualities that can help make up any good relationship, but there are eight specific qualities which make up a good mother.

Eight qualities of a good mother:

  • Patience
  • Strength
  • Empathy
  • Humility
  • Understanding
  • Forgiveness
  • Faithfulness
  • Love

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Patience is a virtue,” but very few people in the world demonstrate as much patience as a mother.  From the baby years, all the way to adulthood, a mother has to deal with the most difficult aspects of having a child.

A good mother takes the trials of motherhood in stride and is patient with her daughter, realizing she is the anchor put in place to hold her daughter steady.

It takes a lot of strength to be a good mother.  Some mothers have to raise their children on their own.  Some go through sickness or other unforeseen circumstances, yet they have to stay the course when it comes to raising their children. 

A good mother prioritizes her children above herself, and she is strong for them, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Good mothers can empathize with their children.  It brings to mind the picture of a mother counseling a grown daughter who may be having relationship problems.

The mother’s heart hurts for her daughter, and she is able to put herself in her daughter’s shoes.  Empathy is part of the reason mothers are known for giving the best advice.

Good mothers stay humble and model this attribute for their children.  An arrogant or self-absorbed mother can make it difficult for a daughter to find her own place in the world. 

A humble mother provides an example of maturity for her daughter and teaches her that sometimes it is appropriate to serve others.

Understanding mothers are able to offer support to their children, even when they disagree with their actions.  Understanding mothers realize that everyone makes mistakes, and they do not blow the mistakes of their children out of proportion or humiliate them.

Good mothers readily extend forgiveness to their children.  They do not hold grudges.  Once an action has past, it is over.  The good mother does not repeatedly bring up a mistake in order to guilt her children. 

She continues to demonstrate her love, despite their actions.  From this, children learn to readily forgive others and walk through life with an even temper.

Faithfulness is right up there at the top of the recipe for what makes a good mother.  Good mothers are faithful to be there for their children when they are needed. 

Even adult daughters know they can depend on a mother who has been faithful to be there for them.  Faithfulness means showing up time and again, even when you don’t feel like it.

That is why mothers across the country can be found cheering at sporting events year after year for the special people they helped create.

Love seems like an obvious quality of a good mother, but it is not always easy to love.  Consider the mother whose child has turned her back on her.  Likely, that mother still loves her child and hopes for reconciliation one day. 

A good mother loves her child from the day he or she is born until the end of her life.

Now we’ll address a topic that often comes up either as a cause or simply a perception regarding mother and daughter relationships: Jealousy.  

 

Doing Life With Your Adult Children

Is it Common that Mothers are Jealous of Their Daughters?

Of course, not all mothers are jealous of their daughters, but unfortunately some are.  This can be onset by a number of factors but also can be overcome through therapy and an improvement in the relationship.  What’s important is that the jealousy is recognized and gently and compassionately handled.  

Here are four traits of jealousy within a mother and daughter relationship:

  • They are competitive
  • They are uninterested in their daughter’s lives
  • They become enmeshed
  • They humiliate or disrespect their daughters

It does not seem natural for a mother to be competitive with her daughter, but some are.  Some mothers feel the need to validate themselves by upstaging their daughters. 

This may mean they struggle to look younger, gain the attention of younger men, or become popular with their daughter’s friends.  Self-questioning fuels this dysfunctional way of living.

Jealous mothers will not seem interested when their daughters begin to tell them about their dreams and successes.  If your mother seems disengaged when you begin to talk, it may be that she is jealous of the person you have become.  She may be disregarding your success and dwelling on her own perceived shortcomings.

Jealous mothers often become enmeshed with their daughters in an attempt to “live through them”.  Jealous mothers may feel they were never permitted to live out their own lives fully because motherhood got in the way. 

They may even revert to acting childish or attempting to dress and carry themselves like a much younger woman.

Some mothers attempt to build themselves up by putting their daughters down.  They may humiliate or disrespect their daughters in public in an attempt to make themselves look better.  These types of mothers are often very critical, and it is hard to have a healthy relationship with them.

With that said on jealousy, let’s get back to something that has to be revisited as we discuss the topic of mother and daughter relationships: the importance of a mother!

Why a Mother Is So Important

It is very true that no one can replace a mother.  In fact, our lives would not be the same without them.

Here are some of the reasons mothers are so important to us:

  • They provide emotional support
  • They help us heal
  • They sacrifice for their children
  • They model how to be a functional adult

Mothers are often the backbone of the family.  They provide for and foster emotional growth in their children.  Even as adults, many of us rely on the support of our mother.  She is our first call when we are feeling low. 

Think of little children when their feelings have been hurt.  Who do they most often run to?  Their mother!

Mothers clean and doctor our physical wounds when we are children, and they also help to heal our emotional and mental wounds as adults.  Many a mother has walked her daughter through a rough spot in the wake of a bad break-up.  Mothers are there to heal hearts as well as boo-boos.

There is not a more sacrificial being than a mother.  Mothers work hard, whether it is in the home or outside the home or both.  They are responsible for getting their children from infancy to adulthood, and they take this job seriously. 

Mothers never stop sacrificing so that their children can have better lives.

Mothers are the ultimate role model.  They shape who we become as women.  Little girls watch and seek to emulate their mothers from a young age.  This is a huge burden to bear!  Mothers are responsible for the women their daughters become!

Of course mothers are important.  There is no one quite like them.  Relationships between mothers and daughters can all look a little different.  It is important to engage in a relationship built on trust, love, and respect.  When this happens, mothers and daughters can truly become best friends.

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