March - April 2008 - Volume 32
  Helping Children and Adolescents Succeed Socially!
The Social Skills Groups   Mother and Daughter Relationships

Social Skills Groups are held at:
The Social Skills Place, Inc.
310 S. Happ Rd, Suite 201
Northfield, Illinois 60093

Date and times:

Elementary School
Tuesday's 4:00PM-4:45PM
Thursday's 4:30PM-5:20PM

Middle School/Jr.High
Monday's 5:00PM-6:50PM
Thursday's 5:00PM-5:50PM

High School/College
Tuesday's 6:30PM-7:30PM

Parent Group
Wednesday's 1:00PM-2:15PM
Wednesday's 7:15PM-8:30PM

Susan Stern, MSW, LCSW


Visit us at:

Being a mother is the most noblest of jobs in this world. Our relationship with our daughters is one that has far reaching affects on the development and socialization of our daughters from birth to adulthood.

The mother and daughter relationship will affect your daughter’s ability to make and keep friends.  If she feels good about herself, and if she develops in a psychologically healthy way, she will attract friends into her life.  She will be able to give of herself to others. She will learn to express caring for others and will have fun growing up with friends and develop close relationships along the way.

Mothers and daughters have the biggest arguments in the family unit. Daughters often interrupt their mothers and can become highly emotional. In 2004, University of Cambridge (England) conducted a study and found that while arguments between mothers and sons occur on average every four days and last six minutes, mother-daughter fights happen every 2-1/2 days and go on for 15 minutes.

During the latency ages and years, 6-12 years old,  a daughter looks up to her mother as an idol and the perfect image of what she strives to be when she is older.  The Self Psychology Theory of Normal Child Development states that all children, at some point in their development, need validation and acknowledgment from parental figures. Over time, these lead to the child's capacity to feel pride and take pleasure in their accomplishments, and to feel a sense of competence.  It is important to know that a mother’s responses to her influence the development and maintenance of self-esteem and self-assertive ambitions in her. A mother’s response should mirror back to her child a sense of worth, which in turn creates the development of self-respect.

Children who are deprived of these essential responses or who instead are subjected to criticism, ridicule, or abuse for their efforts to achieve, their development could freeze (in a sense) at that stage in their life.   Yes they grow older, but that certain part of “self” stays at that stage in development and they continue to respond to people around them as a young needy child.  This will get in the way of forming healthy relationships with others.  (Friendships) As adults, they will always be looking to some outside source for approval or recognition (The positive mirroring they did not receive as a child.).  

Adolescence is a phase when relationships with peers slowly replace the relationship with parents. As your daughter grows and moves beyond her latency age years, it is normal for daughters to believe that their mother cannot possibly understand her or how she is feeling.  It is part of the development process.  It is generally short-term phenomenon and during these times, if moms can persevere through these few years there’s usually a regaining of closeness by the late teens/young adulthood.   Research tells us, that the mother-daughter bond is so enduring that despite continued bouts of conflict, that 80 to 90 percent of women at midlife rate their relationship with their mother as good. 

It’s important not to personally take the “I hate you” and “You’re so mean” messages. They are merely words of frustration and volatile emotion.  At these times stop yourself and do not stay in close proximity to her.  Let her anger calm and it may be best to let her unwind until she’s ready to come to you.  Remember you are the mature and understanding adult and need to act in that fashion.

Know that in each stage of development we have a psychological task. The psychological task of adolescence is the task of becoming one's own person.  While growing up children imitate parental and adult roles, but during this period of a person’s life it is a time for separating from the day-to-day influence and control of parents.  It is also a time when young people lesson their dependence upon parents for love, support, care, direction, and security. Adolescence is a phase when relationships with peers slowly replace the relationship with parents.  Your daughter is separating from you and learning to have an independent existence from her mother.  This process and period in young people and their parent’s lives is neither simple nor easy, and in many respects it is similar to a period of mourning, loss and grief.

The gift of independence is so important.  A mother should allow her daughter this as she goes through this process and stage of development.  Moms, give her permission to be herself and not another “you”.  The daughter should be who she wants to be.  (That is unless her mother is so insecure with her own self.)  It is not healthy for a mother to live vicariously through her daughter or to try to make her daughter be like her.  If a daughter is having trouble during adolescence, it is often because they don't know who they are. They are learning who they are and just trying to fit in.  Let her become her genuine self.  Let her learn who that self is.  Celebrate that special girl.

Tips for Mothers and Daughters to build everlasting close relationships.

  1. Don't stop loving her.  This goes both ways. Appreciate each other, even in the little things you do.
  2. Bite your tongue; Walk away sometimes.
  3. Use humor.
  4. See it from their point of view
  5. Use praise. Express confidence if your daughter and in her future.
  6. Teach her to believe in herself no matter what.
  7. Mothers and daughters should make it a point to express appreciation for each other every time they connect -- through words, actions and just spending time together.
  8. Start mother-daughter traditions.  These are the times that build your relationship.  Make a promise to keep the traditions alive every year. Traditions can include simple activities such as long walks, dinner at a favorite restaurant, getting a manicure together, going on a yearly trip together, going to lunch and shopping together.  Whatever you decide or enjoy together can become your tradition.  You will both look forward to these times.
  9.  Look into family therapy together to help resolve serious long-standing problems if needed.
  10. Realize that all relationships have downsides. Mothers and daughters should focus on the positive aspects of their relationship and invest time and energy in it.


  • Be sure your behavior provides a good example for her to follow. Be genuine.
  • Demonstrate and model your own family's values, from which she will build her own personal values.
  • Allow her to grow up. Let her earn privileges and responsibility by demonstrating her trustworthiness and abilities.
  • Help her care about others, and learn to give of herself without resentment.
  • Give her plenty of practice at making decisions -- start early in life with easy choices.
  • Show her how to "let go" of disappointments and unpleasant experiences, so she avoids bitterness.
  • Allow her to feel frustrated and angry, but insist that she control those feelings in way that helps her find a solution and learn from the experience. Be willing to listen and negotiate.
  • Teach your daughter patience.
  • Model how to remain calm under stress.
  • Let her disagree with you or others, but not in a disrespectful manner.
  • Give her the choice and ability to "question".
  • Give her tips on how to approach a person she needs to solve a problem with.
  • Make her apologize when she is wrong.
  • Teach her to be unassuming and not boast about being right.
  • Make rules clear. Insist that she accepts full responsibility for her decisions and behavior, but make sure the consequences are reasonable.
  • Don't take teenage behavior too personally. The adolescent years have enough challenges without having adults overreact to their hormonal imbalances. Be sensitive to when she wants you to interact with her, and when she does not. Ignore her moods. Don't bother to argue.  Walk away.
  • Accept her clothing preferences, her hair and her music without too much disapproval.  Choose wisely, what to accept and what to argue about.
  • Know where she is 24 hours a day.
  • Respect her as a human being.
  • Love her with all your heart.
  • Show you love her several times a day.  Tell her.
  • And remember to persevere.

Susan Stern, LCSW is the founder of The Social Skills Place, Inc.

The Social Skills Place, Inc. :: 310 S. Happ Rd, Suite 201 :: Northfield, Illinois 60093
Office 847 446-7430 :: Cell 847 507-8834 ::
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