As a coach for moms & daughters, there is a pattern I’ve observed in my clients that got me thinking. I’ve noticed that moms often hold back in sharing their past and feelings about certain situations in their lives. Maybe it’s how we've been raised (be strong no matter what), or suppressing our feelings, or a variety of issues. Whatever the circumstances, this can discourage true open and honest communication between mother and daughter (and family, in general) and leads to assumptions about what is really going on.
We all have our past experiences. They shape us in many ways. Some we grow from and transform, others can be suppressed and may take years to deal with. Some individuals have lived incredibly challenging and traumatic lives. All of these experiences shape how we act and respond to situations that come up in our present.
My own mom had a tough childhood. There was much that she overcame throughout her life and I’m super proud of her! While I was a child, my mom was still coping and working through what she lived and that meant that she threw herself into her work. She was gone a lot, and we never really talked about the past. I knew it wasn’t good, but only from a very broad perspective.
One thing I did as I was growing up was assume that she wasn’t always there because of me. I did this mostly subconsciously, but reflecting back on it as an adult… I tried to fill in the story. I thought she just didn’t want to be around because of who I was (or wasn’t). Neither of us knew how the other felt, much less how to communicate it to each other. That left us to infer what the other was feeling, and then we made it about ourselves while blaming the other. The truth was that she stepped away to ensure that she broke cycles, to keep herself healthy and to effect change in the best way she knew how.
When I became a mother, I gained a new understanding of my mom. She also shared her soul with me. As a result, my personal view of my childhood shifted! It encouraged me to have an open relationship with my own daughter. I am very open and honest with her (based on age and maturity, of course). In the relationship with my own mom, the biggest shift came because I whole-heartedly felt that there was nothing to forgive from my childhood. My mom did her absolute best, and is a total badass! It also helped my own self-worth. No longer did I need to see it as an issue about me (remember what they say about assuming). If only we knew then what we know now… The internal battles we would have saved ourselves.
I look back at it as a lesson and one that I share with those I coach. When we do not communicate, we leave room for people to fill in the story for themselves from their own assumptions and perspectives. Granted, perspective plays a role in communication and influences how we interpret what we are hearing. However, by communicating we remove some of the variables that lead to misunderstandings that over time can breakdown a relationship.
Here are a few other things you can do to improve communication with your daughter (family, etc.):
Only you, the individual living what you are living, can decide when the time is right to share with others. Know that there are a ton of resources that are out there to help you from online resources to coaching to therapy. Recognize that it is not something you have to do alone and be willing to ask for help if necessary. Communication takes effort and work, much like anything we want to improve in our lives. It is a tool you can use to enhance your relationship. Life is too short not to share the REAL you. I’m sending so much love and light to you all!
If you are ready to take the next step toward improving your relationship with your mom or daughter, I am here to help! Visit my website for more info. www.strengthiswithin.com