What makes an ideal mother/daughter relationship?

My OH (Other Half) and I hosted an engagement party for our youngest daughter this week. It was a joyous occasion due to the weather behaving, the guests being in a gregarious mood, all determined to celebrate the occasion. The food was delicious, and I had nothing to do with it, and the Greek Rosé wine flowed. For the days leading up to it, my OH and I just learned to agree with our daughter and not to inflict our choices on her. To be fair, she was probably right with every choice she made as she is an events planner and definitely knows better.

What makes an ideal mother/daughter relationship?

It got me thinking about the relationship between mother and daughter and how fragile it can be. I have girlfriends who have had fallouts with their daughters at one time or another, which have lasted weeks and even months in some instances. Mother/daughter relationships can be incredible. Many Mums say that their daughters are their best friends, but they won’t convince me that it has not been a stony path that they have trod to get to this point.

My relationship with my mother was so different from the one I have with my two daughters. It was remote and more serious. We never discussed anything personal. She did not approve of most of my life decisions. We were very definitely different generations, and she could not relate to my life as a young 20-something as when she was that age it was WWII and just after. She was married and had three of her four children by the age that I was when I got married.

However, I enjoy many of the same things as my own daughters. We have similar tastes in fashion, so I often see my wardrobe being raided. They are keen on keeping fit and so, motivated by them; I do the same. I don’t think my mother ever ventured into a gym. I went to my first Festival this summer, again encouraged by them, and this time they advised me on what to wear. The trouble is that the closer you are to your daughters then, the more likely you are to fall out and for it to be more painful.

I had times when I did not speak to my mother, and she probably had no idea that we weren’t speaking. Even when we were on good terms, we did not speak too often. No mobiles, what’s app or emails. It was landlines, and letters or home visits and life was too much fun to have time for much of the latter.

My girls pop home so often. My eldest daughter lived here with her partner last year for six months. We shared the shopping and cooking, and it was such a joy to share a house with one of my grown-up kids. I looked upon it as a bonus and privilege. When I left home, I left for good; I don’t think there was much that would have enticed me to move back home as much as I loved my parents; we were poles apart in the way we chose to live our lives.

What makes an ideal mother/daughter relationship?

The relationship may shift and change as time goes on, but one thing always remains the same: the unconditional love I have for my daughters.

My youngest daughter’s wedding is late next year, so I hope the stress of organising a wedding – she is doing the organising – does not affect our relationship. I just have to keep very quiet and let her make the choices. It is the young couple’s day, so the guests will mostly be their friends. When my eldest sister got married, it was a traditional wedding. It was predominantly my parents friends and many elderly relatives. Church at 2 pm, back home for a glass of champagne, some tea and sandwiches, lots of speeches, cut the cake (a traditional fruit one with icing, saving one layer for the Christening of the first child) and the happy couple left for the honeymoon.

Meanwhile, OH and I have been given a strict limitation on our guest numbers, and the big day will stretch well into the night with dinner and dancing. Even the cake is unlikely to be a fruit one. But to be honest, if the majority of the guests are under 35 and there is no Great-Aunt Maud knocking back the sweet sherry in the corner, it will be a much more pleasurable and enjoyable day.

What makes an ideal mother/daughter relationship?

All I know is that our daughter and her fiancé and well matched, and they both bring such joy to our family, so we couldn’t be happier, and we wish them all the happiness for their future together.

OH are very lucky as all of our children, we also have two very remarkable sons, are each unique and special in their own way. We are so lucky to have both sons and daughters. We also feel fortunate that we live in a time and a culture where they are free to choose careers, play sports, dress uniquely, date and control their own destiny. My heart goes out to women and girls who lack these freedoms.

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  1. The last picture of your family is really beautiful. My son is 17, daughter 13 (looking 17) and their teenage years are uncomparable. At 13, my son played handball and built Lego in his free time. The fights I sometimes have with my daughter…….it must be the hormones, both hers and mine. And my poor husband between us. Clever books say it´s just a phase that will pass. I hope the books are right and one day I will have my daughter back. When the storms calm down, I can sometimes get a glimpse of her.

    • The teenage years are very tricky with girls. My boys were much simpler during those years. But like anything in life, no pain, no gain. So you will reap the benefits when your daughter is through this phase. Best wishes, Annabel x

  2. Congratulations to the happy couple!
    Re wedding guests! If you, as parents, are paying for the wedding then I think you should invite whoever you like!! For our daughter’s wedding she invited 50 friends, her then fiancé invited 50, mother-in-law invited 30 and we invited 50 – and we paid for the lot . Best wishes to you all.

  3. My relationship with my mother was toxic and I never forgave her for the impact her poor choices had on my life. I could not be in a room with her without reverting to a monosyllabic teenager, even in my late 50’s. Desperate to create a close relationship with my daughter (now 28) I obviously tried too hard and I am blamed for everything that is not good in her life. Of course I take that blame on board and live without it, albeit unjustified. I feel that history is repeating itself with no good reason. I cannot deny that my stomach contracts with envy when friends remind me that their daughters’ are their best friends. The only sensible comment my daughter has shared on this subject is “I have plenty of friends, I need you to be a mother”. She has travelled extensively and sets off alone next month to South America and some scary uninsurable locations. That is bad enough in terms of worry without being unable to vocalise how special she is to me. My only consolation is that I have a fabulous relationship with my 25 year old son so I must have done something right! On a lighter note, the children jest that they will never marry because we are such bad role models (we have been together 37 years!) but I do hope that one day we will see them engaged/settled/married and producing grandchildren. By the way, she adores her Dad!

    • I am so sorry to hear this, Fiona. However, I do think that it is a fine line between being their friend and their mother and getting the balance right is tricky. I now understand how my mother was so much better and I sometimes hear my mother in me. But we learn by our mistakes and being a parent is a learning curve. I am sure it will all work out in the end and the fact that you worry about it all shows how good a mother you are. Best wishes, Annabel x

  4. Annabelle-I so agree with your article on daughters and yes your daughter’s wedding will be different from ours in our day but very joyous! My wee bee got married last October post lockdown in Scotland and we had so much fun doing stuff together. It is a privileged moment to help your daughter choose her wedding dress/attire as you will probably be her best critic! I was there for the 1am WhatsApp chats about -“what do you think of these mum”conversations and just to encourage and suggest ( and fork out the dosh!) although having said that both of them and Michael’s parents were also very good. Gone are the days where bride’s parents pay for everything! I was there for the stress days and to help her Maid of Honour with the Hen do ( they are more complicated than ours ever were!) and you will be there to ‘pull the rabbit out of the bag’ days but in the end you will burst with love and pride to see this wonderful young woman walking down the “aisle” with her dad ,see her marry the man of her dreams and party with all their friends and know that “yes, it all works out in the end!”
    Enjoy the journey -she will love you for it and you will have amazing memories we look forward to some gorgeous photos !!
    Sarah xxxx

    • Thank you so much for that note, Sarah. I am so looking forward to it all. And yes, isn’t it great that the bride’s parents no longer pick up all the bills? Wedding dress appts booked for October. She will also help me choose my outfit. I am determined to enjoy the fun. Aren’t we lucky to have daughters? Ax

  5. You are indeed lucky to have the luxury of having daughters Annabel !
    But I am also lucky to have three wonderful sons, and five magnificent grandsons – nothing pink and frilly in my family!
    Hence the reason I SO enjoy your articles. You and Grace keep me up to date in every direction, for which I thank you very much.
    I have just ordered gold loafers from Mandarina – who would have thought it !?!?
    I am going to love them I know!

    Enjoy all the excitement ahead………Gilly

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