It never ceases to amaze me that as long as I have worked with the elderly and their families I continue to be surprised by how many grown children keep expecting things from their parents that they just can’t give!
“Dutiful daughters” who seek, until the last breathe of their mothers’ lives, the “thank you” or “I love you” they have been dreaming of since childhood but somehow has never been forthcoming are almost always left with feelings of anger and disappointment.
Though there can be change in the mother-daughter relationship of an adult to adult one, this is often the most difficult of all relationships to achieve. On countless occasions, I have experienced daughters, in frustration, questioning “when will my mother show me the love I deserve?” The real answer rests within ourselves. That is, we cannot change our mothers. We have to stop expecting things from them they cannot give. We must find the change within ourselves. The only power we have to control is how we allow the behaviors of our mothers to affect us! When we allow mothers (or anyone in our lives for that matter) to “push our buttons”, we give up our control to respond in a certain manner. To manage our responses and learn to take care of ourselves is the first step to enjoying an adult to adult relationship with our parents, and others.
This is a long, sometimes painful, but almost always rewarding journey. It starts with the desire to change a relationship. It can often end with a great sense of empowerment, growth and personal reward. Remember that no one can make us “feel bad” about ourselves unless we allow them!
– Barbra London, MSW, LCSW, LNHA