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Worlds Apart: Mothers and Their Adult Daughters

How to bridge the gap

Mother's Day

— Photo by Alamy

1. Make friends with your mom. Grown women tend to revert to their teenage selves in their mothers’ presence, but moving to a peer relationship is a better alternative. Conduct an oral history, asking your mother questions about her past that give you a window into her world as a young mother. This will help move you toward a friendship instead of a domineering relationship.

2. Share your frustrations. Mothers don’t intend to seem judgmental. Letting your mother know, in a gentle way, how her words make you feel will help her become aware of the impact of her actions, allowing for improved communication.

3. Schedule a regular date with Mom. Adult daughters are so busy today that it’s tough to fit in time with their mothers. But mothers cherish that opportunity. So find time for her, even if it’s just for an hour after you’ve tucked in your children. She’ll appreciate the effort and the chance to reconnect with you.

4. Accept Mom’s help—or request it. It’s not a sign of weakness to need assistance, and mothers miss feeling needed. So take your mother up on her offer to baby-sit or help clean the house. And listen to what she has to say, just as you would a close friend—they can be a valuable resource. “Chill out,” and react like a peer, “not a touchy 12-year-old,” says psychiatrist Elizabeth Berger, M.D., author of Raising Kids With Character. There are times when Mom really does know best.

5. Say thanks. We often take our mothers for granted and rarely take the time to tell them how much they mean to us. Nothing makes a mother happier than to know she’s appreciated by her daughter. So tell your mother you love her often, so you can cherish your time with her.

Julie Halpert, who cowrote Making Up With Mom with sociologist Deborah Carr, lives in Michigan.

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