No words are enough to describe the delicate relationship between a mother and her daughter. A healthy mother-daughter relationship is a powerful bond based on empathy, love, and trust.
Unfortunately, conflicts can develop in this relationship for a number of different reasons. The escalation of these disagreements may lead to serious issues, such as face-to-face confrontation and emotional disconnection.
In this guide, we’ll look at the top relationship therapy services for mothers and daughters. We’ll also look at mother-daughter relationship psychology in more detail, to help explain some of the common causes of mother-daughter conflict, and how they can be resolved.
Want to skip right to the suggestions for mother-daughter counseling? Here is our recommended therapy solution:
Mother-daughter counseling service
If you’re looking for accessible counseling for mothers and daughters, there is a service that stands out.
Below, we’ve explained more about the best counseling service for moms and daughters to get help together at the moment.
Tailored for individuals and couples navigating relationship or marital issues – ReGain is your online relationship therapy solution. Starting at $65/week, you can schedule one weekly live session and message your therapist anytime. Start your path to healthier connections with ReGain – fill out their online assessment form.
ReGain is an online therapy platform with a range of counselors who have experience mending and improving mother-daughter relationships.
To sign up to the platform, you first have to fill out a questionnaire, where you can provide some details about yourself and your mother/daughter, and the conflict you’re going through. You can also specify your preferences in a counselor, such as their gender or religion.
At this point, you’ll be matched with a counselor. Each mental health professional on ReGain is a licensed relationship counselor, with a minimum of a thousand hours of counseling experience.
With ReGain, you get one counseling session each week at a time that works for you, either over a video call, phone call, or live chat. It’s also possible to message your counselor in between each weekly therapy session.
The great thing about ReGain is it’s designed specifically for this type of relationship counseling. If you live separately from your mother/daughter, it’s easy for them to join in the video calls using the ReGain app on their phone or laptop.
It’s also easy to invite the person you’re looking to get help with to the platform. You don’t have to do this immediately if you don’t want to, allowing you to speak with your counselor individually at first if you’d prefer.
Overall, the only downside to ReGain is it can’t connect you with a counselor face-to-face. However, even if you do not live near your mother or daughter, you might find it more convenient to connect with a counselor online, for this type of therapy.
Using ReGain, you don’t have to spend time traveling to a therapist’s office, and it’s much easier to coordinate the timing of counseling sessions with your family member.
Is it worth using online mother-daughter therapy?
Studies have shown that online counseling can be just as effective as in-person treatment for many people. If you feel that online therapy suits your needs, for example, if it will make it easier for you to get help, then it is definitely worth exploring and may be more effective than getting help in person.
However, if using an online service, you need to ensure that you’re getting counseling sessions from a licensed mental health professional. This is why it’s important to use a service with a network of licensed counselors and psychologists, such as ReGain.
Types of mother-daughter relationships
Mother-daughter relationships can evolve into many different types due to differences in personalities, interests, and socio-cultural aspects.
Your relationship with your daughter or mother may fit into one or more of the following classifications.
1. Ideal and healthy
Ideal mother-daughter relationships demonstrate trust, love, compromise, and respect.
In a healthy relationship, both the mother and daughter should exhibit the following behaviors:
- Setting practical expectations of each other.
- Accepting the mistakes and failures of one another.
- Showing care for each other even in the face of conflict.
- Sharing and listening to inner thoughts with one another.
- Spending enough time with each other (but not becoming overly attached).
- Building trust in each other.
- Creating and respecting healthy and flexible boundaries.
In this type of relationship, typically a mom tries to control the relationship. Although this commonly occurs due to the mother’s protective nature, too much control can disrupt the relationship, especially if you have a young adult daughter.
A daughter might try to do everything to please her mom, while the mother doesn’t always respect the desires and freedom of her daughter. This can lead to disputes between the parent and her child.
Due to repeated disagreements and unresolved conflicts, hostility can develop between a mother and daughter. This is called a competitive relationship.
Instead of love, trust, and understanding, rivalry develops. Just like men, women sometimes become overly competitive with other women in their surroundings. This practice can result in the souring of existing relationships.
According to Freud, childhood development also plays a vital role in defining the type of bond that might develop between a mother and her child. However, these complex relationship issues are beyond the scope of this article.
4. Role reversal
Role reversal refers to a difficult mother-daughter relationship where an adult daughter has to support her mother financially and/or emotionally. As a result, a daughter’s life is restricted due to the increased dependence of her mom on her. This type of relationship typically occurs in the latter stages of the parent’s life.
When either a mother or daughter distances herself from the other, it creates a gap between them.
This sometimes happens when women’s emotional needs are not met, for instance, if a mother has divorced or married someone else. In the outcome, the daughter tries to find someone else from her own family members (or elsewhere) for emotional dependence.
Root causes of conflicts in a mother-daughter relationship
Many factors can become the root causes of conflicts between mothers and their daughters.
Some of the most common causes are:
- Neglectful behavior of either a mother or a daughter.
- Unrealistic expectations and hopes of the other.
- Controlling rather than supportive behavior.
- A mom’s attempts to live her dreams through her daughter.
- A daughter becoming overly attached to her mother.
- A disregard for the other one’s self-esteem and self-worth.
- Introversion as a response to mild conflicts, rather than sharing thoughts and feelings in an attempt to resolve the issue.
- Emotional gaps between a mother and her daughter due to external determinants, such as societal views.
Before resolving conflicts between a mother and daughter, the root causes of these issues must be uncovered. This is what professional counselors will help you with in their initial sessions.
What can be done to resolve mother-daughter conflicts?
Many steps can be taken to resolve issues in a difficult mother-daughter relationship, such as:
1. Building trust in each other
Trust is the essential ingredient in fostering a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
Many of the social factors that could potentially hurt a relationship can be managed if mothers and daughters have complete trust. A mother has to be transparent and trustworthy towards her daughter. Similarly, a daughter must be able to trust her mother enough to share her thoughts and feelings, especially when conflict occurs. If the two parties do not communicate, these issues may become more serious over time.
2. Set appropriate and flexible boundaries
It is necessary for parents and their children to set appropriate boundaries for each other, especially to do with each other’s expectations. For instance, a newlywed daughter may want to discuss setting boundaries about how often she will call and meet her mom.
These boundaries have to be flexible to the other party’s needs in order to minimize conflict, within reason of course. For example, if after getting married the child moves to another state, her mom might want to get in touch more often due to the physical distance between the two women.
3. Establish an emotional connection
Mothers and daughters should try to build a connection emotionally, through care for one another, love, trust, and empathy. A mother takes care of her daughter’s feelings in such a relationship, and a daughter considers her mother’s emotions at the same time.
This connection is key to the relationship, and when it’s gone, conflicts can occur. Although the dynamics of the relationship will evolve over time, it’s still important to maintain this connection no matter how young or old the parents or daughters are.
4. Effective communication in conflict
If a disagreement arises, a mother should listen to her daughter’s complaints and suggestions, show understanding towards her decisions, and speak about her concerns. Similarly, a daughter should also listen to the mother’s advice and learn from her experiences. To avoid the escalation of an existing relationship conflict, this discussion should occur as early as possible.
5. Spend enough time together
A mother and daughter should spend time with each other because it helps to ensure a healthy relationship. Instead of distancing and ignoring each other, both people should try to spend quality moments to develop a stronger relationship.
Of course, it is also possible for mothers and their daughters to spend too much time together. This can occur when one party has a higher level of attachment. If this occurs and creates issues, counseling is worth considering to help establish a balance.
How can counseling help in resolving mother-daughter conflict?
Expert-level counseling provided by licensed counselors and psychologists can help in resolving these conflicts.
Here’s how therapists help many women work through some of the issues we discussed above.
1. Assessing the root causes of relationship issues
First of all, a therapist assesses the basic cause or causes behind the conflict. They will closely investigate the relationship, and try to address the root cause, which can be related to time, emotional headspace, different expectations, family dynamics, or behavioral issues.
2. Ensure acceptance of responsibility
This refers to helping both people get a clearer understanding of their responsibilities in the relationship, in order to create a healthier bond.
This step is especially important because a mother and daughter are not just friends, so each typically expects more of the other than in a regular friendship. Relationship problems occur when one expects more than is reasonable from the other, or when one person does not engage with their responsibilities in the relationship.
3. Exploring complex mental traumas
Trauma can lead people to internalize feelings of love, empathy, and compassion. Consequently, these feelings are not expressed as strongly as they once were.
Different patterns of mental trauma may exist in different people. A counselor helps to explore complex issues from the past and overcome these issues through psychological therapies.
4. Promoting behavior change
Through psychological therapy, a mental health specialist may promote behavior changes. This is used when it is found that different behavior is needed from one or more participants in order to improve the strength of the relationship.
Behavior changes occur through five different stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
5. Setting practical goals
A counselor will identify practical goals and checkpoints of therapy. A good therapist will promote short-term and easy-to-follow objectives, instead of impractical long-term goals. This helps to show progression towards improving the relationship.