A Mother Daughter Relationship can be tricky at the best of times

When we received this story from one of our readers, Annabel and I both found it very moving. I doubt whether she is the only woman who finds herself in this predicament. Perhaps you can relate to the story and may have some advice or comfort to offer; if so, you might like to leave a message in the Comments section at the end of this story.

A mother daughter relationship can be tricky at the best of times.  Is it the unrealistic desire for a ‘mini me’, a friend and confidant or simply a loving relationship with each others best interests at heart?  However much you invest with support, guidance and unconditional love, managing your expectations, and they theirs, things can still go horribly wrong, spiralling out of control. 

A Mother Daughter Relationship can be tricky at the best of times

As a small child, my daughter was timid and shy, very cute really.  Often to be found in the garden on the swing singing The Raggy Dolls tune – an adorable TV programme for children, do you remember it? Quiet at school, yet gregarious at home, her reticence to come out of her shell in public was puzzling. Heart breaking really.  Early school years were difficult, confusion was obvious with one teacher remarking if she wasn’t so young she would have said she was clinically depressed. There was no bullying.  I held on to the positives, she was happy and confident at home and would eventually emerge from this stage. 

Senior school was more of a challenge, as parents we fought hard to find the right school for her.  I thought I had struck gold when one headmistress promised her school’s ethos was to bring the individual best out of each child regardless of what that might be.  The promise never materialised, we were let down. 

And yet, feeling I was the only one who could see her worth and determination, I wasn’t surprised when she left school disheartened at 16, without a word to anyone, enrolling herself at the local college.  Not a particularly successful time but she continued, doggedly, to push herself forward. 

Amidst all this, confounding everyone but me, she passed her driving test first time, much to the 5th attempt brother’s chagrin. There was so much ability and common sense that rarely found a place to shine and help build her confidence. 

The following young adult years were not pretty, countless jobs and obvious depression.  I could weep, and did, when I thought about the lack of a social life and friends and what I perceived she was missing out on. My beautiful daughter deserved to have fun too.  By now she and I were co-dependant, with little or no support. I received ‘phone calls from close family demanding to know what I was doing about it and how they were worried sick, but no-one ever offered help or advice. Counselling began at a leading clinic but ended unhappily.  I found another counsellor, but by this time she was an adult and with no feedback I could only hope it was working.  Again it didn’t last long.

Everyone was thrilled when a boyfriend and future husband arrived on the scene. Could she and I finally disengage? Could she finally be happy?  Armed with that hope I became a fully fledged practising sycophant with the young man concerned.  During this time she was tested independently for dyslexia and dyspraxia and was diagnosed with both – thanks school, thanks college, thanks counsellors, not.  A thorough dose of self flagellation ensued.   The confusion and bewilderment these two conditions caused, the feelings of not fitting in and of being different must have been dreadful, and I was by her side almost every moment. But did we now have the key to a healthy mother daughter relationship? 

It seems not.  Her past has now become re-written and re-shaped in many angry actions and words with the blame laid at my feet.  I am deprived the pleasure of two grand daughters and the delight of witnessing my daughter become the capable and loving mother I know she is.

I have learnt, the hard way, you can put many, many coins in the slot machine of life for a very long time but the years of love, support, belief, and quite frankly hard work, can come to nothing.  Someone else can follow up directly behind you, put the last coin in, and claim the prize of her love.

Many more stories from A&G readers here


  1. This is such a thought provoking read with such a sad ending. Please dont give up on your daughter and her family. Keep the door open and the granddaughters eventually will come to their own decisions as they develop their individual characters. You are a really strong woman to be able to put those words on paper. May you be blessed with a future that works for you all.

    • Thank you Carol for your kind words and understanding. My hope for the future lies with the granddaughters who may one day want to meet their grandmother. It was cathartic to write and keep it factual since so much of the situation has been ‘glamourised’.

  2. That’s so sad. I hope that the relationship can be repaired inasmuch as the grandchildren can see their grandmother. We try and do our best for our children but sometimes things don’t work out. Perhaps she could write to her daughter – it’s important to keep communication lines open. It’s hard to be rejected by your daughter but maybe she felt so let down and her way of dealing with it is to keep the shutters down. My heart goes out to them both as they have both suffered.

    • Thank you Gillian for your empathy and insightful words. Communication lines are fully open my end of things, sadly not the other way around. I guess my daughter has to complete her journey her way. I take comfort in knowing she has the babies she has always wanted since she was a child herself.

  3. An honest and unadorned outline of one mother’s experience of a relationship – thank you for having the courage and honesty to share it with this group.

  4. I as a Mother and who has been through a similar experience can only say how sorry your story makes me feel. A turning point for me came from a book I read called Done with the Crying by Sheri MacGregor. It helped me come to terms with what happened. I have two daughters who became estranged from the family. I am now back in touch with one of them, be it strained at times. The book helped me to understand how to come to terms with the Estrangement and to learn to move on with my life. I hope it helps a little to know you are not alone.

    • Thank you for this – i am also estranged from my lovely daughter and it has broken my heart – I feel so guilty about it all – your words Norma helped me enormously

    • Thank you Norma, isn’t it sad when this mother daughter relationship breaks down. It’s not the natural order of things is it, which I guess is why it’s is so hard to deal with. I’m sorry you have had a similar experience with your two daughters, but pleased for you that one of them is trying. I shall look up the book, thanks for the recommendation.

  5. Yes, me too. Whatever my daughter needed I couldn’t give her, no matter what I did. It caused me so much pain for many years. I have not seen or heard from her in ten years. She is my only child. In so much as you can ‘get over’ something like this, I had to, for my own peace of mind and eventual happiness.
    Thank you for sharing. I wish you all the very best. xx

    • I am so sorry you have been estranged from your daughter for such a long time. You should be proud of yourself that you have managed to move on and enjoy life, with a sadness in your heart of course. Thank you for your best wishes.

  6. The eloquence, sensitivity and intelligence of the writer belies the outcome thus far. Parents, for the most part, are programmed by nature to protect, nurture and fulfil all that is required for the species to flourish. This emotionally intelligent writer has verbalised the pain and frustrations of every parent I know, at some point in their child’s development. But for most time passes, children learn and begin to appreciate and even smile at the parents holding them close. They grow into themselves. But not all take that path. Sometimes a dark cloud of influence darkens their minds, supports their negative feelings, confirms their ‘suspicions’ that they were not loved enough, that their parents knowingly neglected them or worse, wronged them. Sometimes it’s this ‘influence’, this light at the end of the child’s tunnel that compounds and completes their negative feelings.
    But nature has a wonderful way of completing a circle. Wait, just a while and something else might just show that this new love is really “total control” in disguise. Our beloved children will find a way home when they are free to, when time and life experience grants them the sight to see pure, unconditional love, that has always been there for them, unyielding and enduring.

    • Thank you Eilish so much for your insightfulness, wisdom and powerful words. There most certainly is a dark cloud of influence supporting her negative feelings. Hopefully, as you say, becoming a parent herself she will one day come to recognise the unconditional love of a parent who is only human themselves.

  7. Oh my goodness, I’ve never had children myself (bit of a miserable childhood) but this tore at my heartstrings, all I can say is you deserve so much more and I am sure one day your grandchildren will discover you and appreciate everything you have done for your daughter. Sending lots of love and huge hugs! Stay strong!! xxxx

    • Angela, thank you for your encouraging words, love and hugs! So sorry to hear your childhood experience swayed you from having children, but this also seems to be a lifestyle choice these days. My son (who is lovely btw!) and partner have decided not to have children enabling them to travel to more and more exotic places. I do look forward to the day when I am hopefully reunited with my grandchildren and daughter when they are ready.

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