Mother-daughter relation sours in adolescence

ABU DHABI - The mother-daughter relationship is a special and intense relationship that often plays a major role in their lives. When a daughter is young, she likes to ape her mother, her style of dressing and mannerisms. Yet, during adolescence things take a dramatic turn in most cases, as the daughter begins to assert her own identity and gets into conflict with the mother.

By Asma Hamid

Published: Tue 24 Jun 2008, 8:28 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:16 AM

The previously loving relationship suddenly becomes one of constant confrontation and tension, which can be a cause of frustration for both the mother and the daughter as the bond weakens and communication is affected.

How do mothers deal with this? What are the mistakes that mothers make to exacerbate this situation?

"I feel that I do not have the freedom that some of my brothers enjoy, as I am not allowed to go out with my friends sometimes while they do not have the same strict rules. Although I understand their concern I feel that it is not fair, and my mother does not speak up for me, but always sides with my father and brothers," said 16-year-old Emirati girl Maitha Al Mansouri.

Khaleej Times spoke with a number of teenage daughters of various nationalities, who also shared Maitha's frustrations that mothers expect their daughters to adhere to cultural standards that they do not agree with or relate to.

"My parents are sometimes very strict, and I feel they are disappointed with my older sisters. They want them to get married and I feel that they do not understand that my sisters want to study, work and to choose their own life partners. This is a cause of tension in my relationship with my mom, as I feel she is from a different planet," said 13-year-old Pakistani girl Sehrish Aslam.

According Aida Mohammed Noor, clinical psychologist at Al Noor Hospital, the biggest mistake mothers make is to be domineering and critical of their daughters.

"Teenage girls suffer from depression more than boys, and we have been seeing increasing cases of young teenage girls suffering from depression. The teen years are a stressful time of many hormonal changes for a young girl, and mothers often forget how hard this time is," she said.

"Although daughters may have opinions and behaviour that mothers do not approve of, mothers should understand that developing a sense of self for the daughter often means defiance and rebellion against her mother," she added.

Aida stressed that daughters do, in fact, want a loving and close relationship with their mothers even though they may not show it, explaining that a strong relationship with her mother gives the girl a sense of security throughout her life.

"It is important that mothers try to empathise with their daughters, and create a bridge over the cultural gap that may exist between two generations," she said.

Arwa Mograby from Australia, mother of the 18-year old Randa Mograby said that she has a strong bond with her daughter although the bond is sometimes rivalled by her daughter's very close relationship with her father.

"I am close to both of my parents, but my relationship with each is different. My father sets out time for me to speak about my problems, and the things I share with him, I may not share with my mother and vice versa," said Arwa.

"Mothers are, in fact, often tougher on their daughters than fathers," admitted Irena Al-Saeedi, mother of two daughters aged 11 and 20.

"Perhaps, this is because mothers spend more time with their daughters or maybe because fathers naturally have a soft spot for their daughters," she said.

Originally from Finland, Irena who is married to a Yemeni man, came to the UAE nine years ago when her daughter was only 11.

"It was a big transition for her and she was going through a hard time. This, of course, was reflected in the deterioration of our relationship as she stopped listening to me. Of course, mothers become upset in this situation, but it is important for a mother to be patient and realise that her daughter is merely going through a phase. After the teen years pass, a mother and daughter can become friends, and daughters come back and seek advice, guidance and support of their mothers," she said.