Restoring And Healing The Mother/daughter Relationship

Christine Giscombe, founder of Born to Excel, shares the importance of the mother/daughter relationship and how to repair it when it is broken

Why the mother/daughter relationship is so important

The relationship that exists between mother and daughter is the strongest of all parent-child bonds and defines the pathway for the daughter’s behaviours and beliefs to formulate.  Behaviours and beliefs are often passed down from generation to generation and lay the foundations of the mental and emotional well-being of the daughter. In most instances, the first voice of influence a daughter hears is that of her mother.

How an unhealthy relationship with mother impacts a daughter

When a healthy relationship does not exist between mother and daughter, it impacts the daughter in her behaviour; her ability to retain and process information; her communication; and her educational journey (if she is a student). It can also affect her lifestyle choices. 

Different types of mother/daughter relationships

An ‘Enmeshed’ Relationship is where the role of the mother and daughter becomes entangled. In this kind of relationship, the mother provides her daughter with love and attention, but tends to exploit the relationship, and can become very narcissistic, domineering and controlling because she feeds her own needs by living through her daughter.

An ‘Empathetic’ Relationship is where the mother/daughter role is reversed, and the daughter becomes the parent. This can result in resentment and anger from the daughter, especially if there has been conflict.

When I was growing up, my relationship with my mother was challenging, making it very difficult to establish a healthy mother/daughter bond. As an adult, I recognise that some aspects of the enmeshed relationship existed between my mother and myself.  Negative words spoken to me had taken root and affected how I viewed myself, my relationships, my behaviour and how I showed up in the world. My younger self was not a very confident person, but I have learnt, accepted and embraced the undeniable fact that with God, no experience is wasted! Even the negative ones.

How mothers can foster a good relationship with their daughters

Mothers need to take the lead in building the relationship with their daughters, by providing them with space to grow and develop with confidence and making a place available where honest conversations can be shared — even if what the mother hears is not pleasant.  It’s also helpful if the mother can guide her daughter about setting healthy boundaries. Mothers need to make peace with their past and prepare to be vulnerable and honest when sharing their own lived experience with their daughter(s).

Repairing a poor mother/daughter relationship

It’s important for the mother and daughter to talk to each other and have courageous and uncomfortable conversations. Take time out to respectfully listen to each other. If words are not easy to say, write a letter to each other. Clear communication and asking for forgiveness are key to healing a fractured relationship and resolving conflict.

I embarked on a journey of healing for my inner childhood wounds that affected the adult in me. I received counselling and prayer, then progressed to forgiveness towards my mother and forgiveness for myself. Many of us need to accept that our mothers did the best with what they had.

Dealing with the after-effects of unhealthy mother/daughter relationships

When a daughter knows her mother’s story and journey, she will understand her choices and recognise that her mother was — and is — a woman who has also experienced life challenges and did her best. Once a daughter accepts this, and makes the choice to forgive her mother, it can release any negativity she may have and enable her to move on with her life. No one can change the past, but we can change the way our future story ends.

The pain, the purpose and God’s plan 

We don’t often know why we go through some painful experiences, but I recognise for myself, that my faith in God and trusting His plan for my life have now enabled me to share my journey of the pain, the purpose and God’s plan.

I am also blessed to share that my mother is still alive, 92 years young. Time may have tampered with her memory, but I am still able to love and converse with her. I now love my mother with a clean heart of love and not out of duty.

Christine Giscombe is an award-winning mentor, an accredited Emotional Intelligence coach and founder of Born to Excel®. She also hosts the ‘Mother & Daughter Conversations®’ — a space where healing from past hurts can take place. Visit for more details.

Written by: Christine Giscombe

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