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Are You As Good As Your Mom?


WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

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by Hagar Scher

Are you a good mother? As good as your mom? Or are you even better?

 

We asked American women that question-now read their surprising answers. Plus, mother-daughter look-alikes and celeb memories of Mom. What's your image of the 21st-century mom? Many people might profile her this way: hardworking but harried; loving and indulgent; seeking support from friends rather than family; and feeling guilty, guilty, guilty about not doing a better job at home. That may be the conventional wisdom-but a very different picture emerged from a national survey just conducted by Good Housekeeping in partnership with ABC News Good Morning America

We interviewed 585 mothers with at least one child under age 18 at home, and the women's message was loud and clear: Parenting is hard work, but most think they're doing a good job. Many even feel they're doing better with their kids than their own moms did with them. And working-mother guilt? Save it for your seventies scrapbook-mothers with jobs, full-time or part-time, are no more likely than their at-home counterparts to feel guilty about not always being the perfect parent. Check out our findings-starting with perhaps the biggest surprise of all.

The new mother-daughter team

Of the women we polled, more than half describe their current relationship with their mother as excellent-while only a third remember being on such good terms when they were growing up. In fact, for many women, Mom has become more than just family: Half the women say they now consider her a friend.

Maybe even a best friend. Joanne Linehan, 34, a high school teacher in Warrensburg, New York, with a two-year-old and a baby on the way, was a typical teenager who wouldn't be caught dead at the mall with Mom. But at 26, she accepted an invitation to be her mother's golf league partner. "We'd hang out afterward at the bar and talk," she recalls. "That was the first time I saw my mom as more than the lady who lived at our house and took care of us kids. I have friends from school and college, but they're just as busy as I am with family and work. So my mom is now the person I share the most with."

"Daughters seeing their mothers as confidantes and best friends is a development that's unusual in the history of humankind," says Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and the author of the best-selling You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation.

Why are we seeing this new closeness right now? When women entered the workplace in force in the seventies, some experts say, they ended up living very differently than their mothers had, and a big generation gap opened up. Not so for the women we surveyed-they may find it easier to relate to their mothers as equals because 59 percent of their moms worked outside the home. Tannen believes that today's mother-daughter teams benefit from a cultural bias that values youth over age, creating a two-way street in which moms need their daughters' advice as much as the daughters need theirs.

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