Mother daughter relationship

It takes effort on the part of both the mother and the daughter to strengthen the bond they share

The role of the daughter

  • To forgive her mother for the past parenting errors by seeing her as a fallible human who has hopefully learnt what not to do and who is a work-in-progress just as all human beings are.
  • To reflect on her mother’s background, upbringing, culture, experiences and circumstances as an empathy-building exercise in order to release your anger [if any] towards her behaviour by understanding that in the absence of higher wisdom she could not have done better.
  • To relate with her accepting her as an error-prone person who might never be perfect, but is acceptable as a person who tried to give her best shot at everything she did.
  • To give yourself the freedom to be the person who you are, to make conscious life decisions in the present based on ‘reason’, and to unconditionally love and accept yourself.
  • To see yourself as ‘OK’ and your mother as ‘OK’ too.
  • To free your mother from any guilt of her parenting errors by telling her that while you may have disapproved of many of her parenting ways and felt hurt too, you see her as a fallible human who could not have done any differently, and therefore genuinely forgive her, thus releasing the relationship from any residue pain in both.
  • To free yourself from any guilt and acknowledge that you too have made choices which she might have disapproved of and felt hurt about. Tell her that you too are a growing and evolving person and a humble learner of life and relationships. Ask her to forgive you if she can, and to be open to relate with you in a new mutually respectful way where both can be themselves, gracefully accepting each other for who they are, with both growing and learning about each other all the time.

The road to mutual love and respect

This original bond of a mother and daughter can be salvaged and is resilient. To nurture a mutually loving and respectful relationship:

  • Both could take turns in sharing some cherished memories of bonding from the past where you felt the love and affection.
  • Both could plan dates with each other at a mutually convenient time talking about or doing things both genuinely enjoy.
  • Both could demonstrate non-verbal affection with hugs, pecks on the cheek, stroking the head etc.
  • Both could give comfort during times of physical distress or illness by supervising medical care, accompanying to doctors and providing other forms of comfort and care-giving to ease out any distress during a trying time. 

In conclusion, it is only when ‘both’ parties serve their roles, and when ‘both’ can let each one be their own person, can a new, healthy and mutually loving, respectful and nurturing relationship evolve which is not of mother and child, but of two people who have shared a tremendously vulnerable relationship, and who have now learned to love and accept each other as themselves.

This was first published in the January 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Minnu Bhonsle
Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.


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