Hot Topic Tuesday - Mother/Daughter Relationships

When I was about 13, my mom picked me up from school one day and said, "Do you notice anything different about me?"

I said, "You're smiling?"

"No!" she said, trying to hide her hurt feelings. "I got my ears pierced."

That story has become a family joke, but I think it says a lot about how I saw my mom back then. I grew up in a relatively happy, in-tact family, but I remember stretches when everybody was pretty grumpy--especially Mom. Now that I'm a mother, I can understand why. She worked full-time, helped maintain a household with all of the stresses that that entails, and she had to deal with my sister and me--and we weren't a walk in the park as teens.

None of that takes into consideration her deeper, inner life. If my mom had hopes, dreams and secrets, I didn't know or particularly care. She was just Mom.

This week, Sarah Ockler's new book, FIXING DELILAH, comes out. It's about uncovering family secrets, about how mothers assume they know everything about their teens, know what's best for them, and sometimes even lie to protect them. And it's about how teens don't always look at their mothers as real people, but just as "mom." Teens (and all daughters, really) often forget that Mom had an entire life before we came along.

My daughters are young enough that I feel fairly safe in assuming things about them--I know pretty much all there is to know about their lives. (That's me, btw, in the photo with my oldest, back when she would let me hold her on my lap.) But the time is coming when I won't know as much, and I know that assuming can be dangerous. I also wonder whether I'll have the courage to share the parts of myself and my past that could help them better understand me as they--and I--grow older.

If you're a teen, how would you describe your relationship with your mom? What kinds of assumptions do you find yourself making about her? What do you wish you knew about her? And what do you wish she knew about you?

For moms, what do you wish your daughter knew about your life now and/or before she was born? What assumptions do you make about her that may or may not be justified? And how do you think she'd react if she knew some of your secrets?


hopejunkie said...

My relationship with my mom is really strong. Despite this, I hide a lot from her, not because I don't want her to know, but rather because I'm a private person. Now that I'm in college (but still 17 and having to depend on parents for everything, like getting ibuprofen from the clinic), being 3000 miles from home has made me appreciate the ease of sharing a lot more. There would be times at home where I'd be stressed and crying from holding things in, and when Mom was there, she would learn about my life. That doesn't happen across the country.

Ginny said...

My relationship with my mother is a strong one, and it used to be too strong -like, sickly strong- for most part of my life, and if I had let it, it still would be.
Me and my sister was everything my mom had, and when we wrenched away from her, she felt like sinking into the icy water.
We -especially me and my mom- talk about pretty much everything mostly because we're so much alike. We understand each other and used to depend on each other. Last year, there was some major crash when I announced my total independence, because I wanted to be free. My mom was hurt, she cried a lot, when I told her I didn't want to tell her everything anymore. That I had things I want to hide from her.
It was a rough time, but now we're okay. Our relationship is good, and it's healthy. We're both happy in our own ways and she knows now that she should be the center of her life, not her children.

Sarah Darer Littman said...

I wrote in the previous post about how I've been pretty open with my daughter. Although it's had some drawbacks - like her being able to throw in my face that I was such a bad teenager whenever we argue - I think overall it's been the right move. I'm always amazed by how open she is willing to be with me about what is going on - SO much more than I would ever have been with my mom at her age. I think maybe because I trusted her, she trusts me?

Sarah Laurence said...

Funny story and cute photo! My mom went with me to get our ears pierced when I was maybe 11 and then she chickened out. She still wears clip-ons. My daughter got her ears pierced at 11 too, but she went with her best friend and the moms.

Part of being a teen is breaking away from your parents. It’s necessary to become an adult. I don’t ask my now 13-year-old daughter for her secrets, but I’m there if she wants to share. I also answer her questions about my past honestly, but she usually wants to talk about herself. We are closer than I was with my mom at her age. My 16-year-old son is more reserved. I respect his privacy and his judgment, although I’m not letting him drive on his own yet. We set limits.

I’m still “the mom,” but writing YA has helped me see the world from my kids’ perspective and probably made me a better parent for it. It's empowering for my daughter to give me advice on how to write for teens. She's the reason I started reading and writing YA.

I don’t think children can really see it both ways until they have kids of their own. I certainly didn’t get my mom until I became one.

Interesting questions and responses!

Lisa Schroeder said...

You girls are adorable!!!

I love my two boys, but every once in a while, I feel a little longing for a daughter. It can be hard at times, I know, but I also think you can end up being really good friends. At least a lot of my friends are really good friends with their moms now.

Micol Ostow said...

Oooh, mother/daughter relationships. My relationship with my mother was complicated for a long time, mainly because I was a VERY emotional, very volatile teen. I'm not sure when the switch flipped, but as a thirty-something, my mother and I have grown very close. We rent a house together every August and spend the month reading, writing, taking walks with the dogs, and talking about nothing and everything. And while I wish maybe that it had always been like this, I think having had such a tense time for so long makes our current bond so much stronger.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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