The first author, Barbara McFarland, is a clinical psychologist and consultant specializing in women's mental health issues. The second author, Virginia Watson-Rouslin is an award winning freelance writer and communications and marketing specialist.
It is the most fundamental, yet complicated relationship. The mother- daughter relationship is as complex as the women involved in it.
"Since the moment she pushed us out of her body, we daughters have been on a journey in our relationship with our mother. It is during mid-life that the journey has led most of us back to her-to an appreciation of her not only as a mother, but mostly as a woman and a person."
Through interviews and surveys the authors have developed three paradigms of the mother-daughter relationship.
"The Wandering Daughter" is still traveling-not quite ready or willing to come home because her anger and resentments over early childhood wounds will not let her. She carries anger like a banner.
"The Prodigal Daughter" is one who disconnected her mother: their words, how they lived their lives and she vowed to be nothing like them. These women experienced anger, guilt and motherly disapproval. Concerning the road back, these prodigal daughters talk about one key factor that allowed them to return home: forgiveness.
"The Untraveled Daughter" has had a generally positive relationship with her mother from the very beginning of the trip. She believed her mother was right and have been able to appreciate them.
Almost all groups agreed and rated their mother's influence on education as positive. Sixty-three percent of the women surveyed said their moms had a positive influence on their academic pursuits. Baby boomer women agreed that their mother's advice on getting a good education turned out to be one of the single most important foundations for their lives. Most all respondents agreed mom's advice to "have something to fall back on," was correct.
Daughters, whether they were married, divorced, widowed or unhappily married, report learning from their mothers to "stand on their own two feet" if they were going to survive.
For many daughters, motherhood served as a bridge to a more meaningful relationship with our moms. A thirty-nine year old married mother of two states, "When I was expecting my first child, it was the first time my mother opened up to me on what life was like for her as a young woman."
With the onset of our motherhood, our mom's career deficits no longer were a wedge between us. The mentoring our mother offered us comes by way of not only what they did well, but equally and sometimes even more powerfully, by what they did not do.
In regard to spiritual health and well being, many daughters attribute their faith to their mothers. It was agreed, we were irritated by their constant nagging to attend church or temple, but it had an impact. We may change religion from that of our childhood, but the spiritual teachings of our youth often prevail.
Baby boomers who struggle to balance all things competing for their attention have found religion or a strong faith important in their lives and try to pass that on to their own daughters.
The authors also touch on other areas where our mothers were primary teachers. Our moral code is a gift from our mothers. Learning about friendships, responsibilities to other human beings and other areas from etiquette to activism are covered poignantly.
"And so when that very first awareness, that split second of an instant when we look in the mirror and see her smile or when we hear her words with the very same intonation escape from our lips, we are shocked." "Whether we like it or not, we cannot escape the influence of nature and nurture when it comes to our moms."
The book is made complete by two appendices.
For anyone who came of age in the 1960s, this book is must reading. It is a balm for a hurting and heavy soul.
Sue Reichard is married and the mother of 4 children, 1 son and 3 daughters. Her family lives in beautiful Bradford Country in NE Pa. They have a 10-acre homestead and an old farmhouse which they have painstakingly remodeled. She is a children's book reviewer and also an elementary school teacher. She loves reading and writing, and she is a feature contributor to the local paper. She also reviews children's books for Children's Literature Newsletter and Young Adult Review.
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