by Cheri Fuller There are lots of positive things about being good friends with your daughter. But when Mom sees her daughter as her main confidante or they become overly close, it can hinder a healthy transition to adulthood. She appreciated and loved her mom, but during the college years she wanted a little distance to grow. She was dependent on her daughter’s dependency, which fostered insecurity in Julie.I’ve talked to moms who say their adult daughter is their very closest, best friend. This sweet, caring mother had done even through her daughter’s twenties (her taxes, reconciling her checkbook, and doing her laundry, all of which Julie was capable of doing herself).
Mom’s hyper-involvement eventually not only hurt Julie’s ability to feel good about herself and live her own life, it also hurt their relationship.
Consequently, while her greatest wish was for her daughter to get married, Julie’s mother didn’t realize her overinvolvement was a big part of the reason her daughter wasn’t developing a relationship with a guy.
Yet from high school on, her biggest struggle was that her mom was so involved in her life it was suffocating.
“You’re so busy; come home this weekend and I’ll get it all done.” Her mom did all this with the best of intentions, and she expected from her daughter in return.
Being mom’s main emotional support felt spiritual and noble, especially when she had to sacrifice some of her own fun times with friends, but it was actually detrimental to the process of Julie’s learning to grow up and live her own life.
When she started pulling away in small steps during college, like spending the weekend on campus for an activity with friends, her mom asked guilt-producing questions like, “Why aren’t you coming home more? ” Being a compliant people pleaser, Julie got sucked into an enmeshed relationship with her mother.
My life is awesome and you’re doing something wrong. So what can you do to put some of the wonder and magic back in your relationships with your daughters? One on one, mommy and me, the skies the limit kind of date? Just one morning go about your normal day with the exception of you both just blew off your day. My girls get a guaranteed hooky day for their birthday but I try to not make it ON their birthday so there’s an element of surprise to it.
Let’s recycle some of your old “toddler” dates into newer versions that are so awesome that they will never say no: Play Hooky: Yep. Sleep in, stay in your PJs all day, eat cupcakes for breakfast and brownies for lunch. It’s a great way to reconnect and make it just about them. It’s still as fun as when they did your makeup when they were little but with much better results.
Then they are free to return on their own timetable.
Just as Julie and her mom experienced from establishing boundaries, our relationships with our own daughters will actually be much healthier and the time we do spend together more enjoyable if we do the same.
Let her know you’re there for her when she needs someone to talk to, and then listen well when she takes you up on the offer.