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Health & Balance

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Mothers vs. Daughters: Why Can't We Just Get Along?


So how do you stop that spiral?
DT: The mother could call less frequently, and instead of saying she's lonely, she could emphasize things she's enjoyed. For her part, the daughter could help change the conversation by volunteering more information or inviting her mother into her life in ways that aren't sensitive-such as asking advice about what gift to buy for a friend's wedding. Who knows, she might find one of her mother's suggestions helpful!

Any other ideas for improving mother-daughter communication?
DT: Try spending less time talking and more time doing things. Go to a butterfly sanctuary or to a local festival or crafts fair. Almost any shared activity can be a source of pleasure. For more than one mother-daughter pair I talked to, it was attending Weight Watchers together. For others, it was getting their nails done.

What can a daughter do to make her mom feel appreciated...even if their lives are very different?
DT: Let's say you have a mother who's not crazy about your choice to work outside the home and raise kids at the same time. You might say "Mom, I couldn't do what I do if you hadn't shown me how to gracefully handle lots of things at once." You can reassure your mother that she's done a good job. Mothers crave this stamp of approval from their daughters.

Did working on this book change your relationship with your own mother?

DT: I had to think about things from her point of view, and that made me understand her better and resent her less. But the evolution of our relationship was gradual and took place over the last years of her life. We went out and did things, laughed more. Also, she became more physically needy. Just taking care of her made me feel more love for her.

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