We all know the mother-daughter relationship is special, but did you know neuroscience can now prove the mother-daughter bond is the strongest of all parent-child bonds?
In a study done on 35 different families, the Journal of Neuroscience found that the part of the brain that regulates emotions was the most similar between a mother and daughter. Because of this, mothers are able to deeply empathize with their daughters, creating an incredibly strong bond.
Maybe this isn’t news to you because you have a bond like this with your daughter. Maybe you wish your bond with your daughter was stronger. Sometimes the deep connection between mothers and daughters can cause tension. The more you can empathize with someone, the more you know how to push her buttons, right?
What this science tells us is every mom can cultivate a strong bond with her daughter because it’s natural to your biology. All you have to do is maintain this healthy, close bond.
But this balance between close and healthy can be tricky.
In my many years as a pediatrician, I’ve heard countless daughters talk about their mothers. Some have shared heartwarming stories, others not so heartwarming. In thinking about what you want your relationship with your daughter to look like, here are a few mother roles that can disturb the balance between close and healthy:
These are the mothers who believe they must be their child’s everything: cook, counselor, coach, teacher, room mom, etc. Now these things by themselves can be laudable. But when a mother thinks her daughter can’t (or won’t) live a good life without her constant involvement, she is overdoing it and headed for trouble. Daughters who live at home when they are twenty-six because they can’t find a job are often victims of mothers who need to be needed. Some of these daughters assume they need to stay at home to keep their mothers “happy,” and that’s when you have obvious cases of codependency.
These mothers are the bossy ones. They pick out their daughters’ clothes, friends and activities
and tell them what to do with their time at home. They don’t mentor their daughters; they dominate them. She sees herself as the custodian and controller of her child’s mind. Having been told repeatedly that mother knows best, children of controlling parents can doubt themselves, and simple, independent decisions can fill them with anxiety. They also learn to lie—to say what the controlling mother wants to hear—in order to keep her happy.