My journey to being a mother-daughter relationship therapist began nearly thirty years ago when my daughter was born. When my midwife announced that I had a baby girl, the first thing I thought was that I needed to understand my mother and why my relationship with her was full of conflict. It was one of those moments when the truth comes crystal clear. I knew that my own survival as a mother and woman, and my daughter’s survival as a female, and the survival of my relationship with my daughter depended on me understanding my mother’s life and why she behaved the way she did.
This realization sparked a personal journey that led me to move from New Zealand, where I was born and lived, to graduating from Indiana University with a Masters’ degree in counseling. After graduation I set up a private practice specializing in the mother-daughter relationship.
Epidemic in Mother-Daughter Relationship Conflict
When I started searching for answers about what was causing my mother to stop speaking to me for no apparent reason or why my mother wasn’t able to listen to me or understand my point of view I was shocked to learn how common these issues are. As I embarked on some informal research, asking anyone and everyone I knew and didn’t know about their mother-daughter relationship, I started to learn that most mothers and daughters have some unresolved issues and areas of conflict in their relationship.
What started as a personal journey of understanding and emotional survival became a passion for understanding as to why so many mothers and daughters weren’t getting along. I wanted to understand what was going on in families and society that was causing so much conflict and misunderstanding. I wanted to learn about what mothers and daughters need in order to grow strong, emotionally connected relationships. And I wanted to understand why so many mothers and daughters harbor their relationship conflict like a guilty secret, believing that they alone are struggling and that somehow their relationship difficulties are a symptom of their personal failings.
I have since learned through my work with mothers and daughters of all ages and different cultures that mother-daughter conflict is not just a mother and teenage daughter issue. That the limited focus on the difficulties mothers and teenage daughters struggle with is a distraction from a much bigger problem, because mother-daughter relationship conflict is a world-wide epidemic. Mother-daughter relationship conflict can rear up during certain flash points in the mother-daughter relationship lifespan, especially during times when the daughter leaves home, the daughter gets married, and the daughter has a baby. During these times, unresolved issues that have been rumbling underneath the surface come roaring up to the surface demanding to be addressed. And I have found that mother-daughter couples who lack listening skills, and who aren’t differentiated enough to listen to and respect each other’s point of view and respective needs will typically have a more difficult time navigating these life stages.
______________________________________________________________________Rosjke Hasseldine is a mother-daughter relationship therapist, speaker, and author of The Silent Female Scream & The Mother-Daughter Puzzle. Rosjke teaches mental health professionals how to become a Certified Mother-Daughter Coach. www.rosjke.com