Mother and Daughter Relationships

Mother and daughter together.

Mothers and daughters have unique relationships, and their fair share of problems. Do you have a relationship like the Gilmore Girls or do you have every step you take scrutinized, like in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Either way, each mother and daughter relationship takes work and lots of give-and-take.


To ask the Team your own questions, visit their new page here: Ask the Teens Expert

Current Questions

My mom had a really bad childhood. I mean like REALLY bad. It could be a movie. Well a lot of bad things have happened to me, and I try to be a very strong person, I almost NEVER cry. Recently something happened to me and I couldn't control myself. I couldn't stop crying and my mom said what she always says "suck it up, I have been through more than you can imagine" or "Stop being so emotional!" So then I feel like I can't go to her for anything. I pretend to be okay even when I just found out my grandpa has cancer. I mean I understand if she doesn't want to listen to me be upset about little things, but how can I ever be open with her when she yells at me for crying about important things? ~~Stephanie

Advice from Melissa

Dear Stephanie:

When you are both in a calm space, show her this note you wrote. It sounds like your mom had to deal with pain all by herself growing up, so she might not now how to comfort you when you need to vent or cry. It's just not in her "make up." (There's no "how to" manuals with parenting!) I'm sorry you are going through this, but if you do have a chance to speak with her after showing this advice column, maybe it will trigger a light in her and she will be more understanding. In the meantime, it's important you have a safe person to speak with about your feelings...hopefully, a trusted teacher, counselor at school, or maybe aunt? Writing a journal is also a good way to get things out of your system. If things don't get better for you and your mom in a reasonable amount of time, I'd recommend some family therapy. Your guidance counselor at school can refer you. (It's all confidential, don't worry!) Best of luck.


Advice from Katie


Oh honey, I'm sorry. That really sucks when you're a teenager you really need a good support system. One day, when you're both calm, you should explain to her that sometimes, when something upsets you, you need to cry for a little bit and get it all out. This is good- this is healthy- its cathartic. Tell her that when you get like that, all you want is for her to be there. That it isn't her fault. She doesn't need to understand it. It's just how you deal. And it can keep things from building up and becoming worse over time. Seeing you upset might upset your mother: she doesn't want to think of you having the kind of childhood she had. She probably never had anyone to take care of her when she wanted to cry, and now the cycle is repeating itself. That's terrible, isn't it? At least you'll know that when you have children, you can be there for them. Hopefully, after you talk, your mom can be there for you.



My mom doesn't trust me ever since the divorce. She won't even let me leave the house, unless I'm standing right there in front of it. I am 14 and have a boyfriend. It is hard to do anything together. My mom doesn't like my looks. She wants me to be a cheerleader and girly. I'm a skater. She told me I look hideous. Help! ~~Svarlet

Advice from Melissa

Hi Svarlet:

I'm so sorry. Not only are you dealing with the pain of your parent's divorce, but you're also bearing the brunt of a lot of your mom's anger (from the divorce). I think you both need some family counseling. 1) So you two can communicate more effectively and reasonably 2) so you both have neutral, but appropriately trained adult with whom you can share your sadness, frustration and fears. To get help with counseling, you can start by talking with your school guidance counselor. It's confidential, and he or she is trained to provide referrals. You can also go to a church or synagogue and speak with a member of the clergy. The most important thing for you right now is to have someone to talk to that can help. One other thing… you may want to write down your feelings in a journal or in letter format. At some point, by writing and sharing with your mom, it might be a good tool for expressing your differences, but in a way that's not confrontational. Might be a starting point. Best of luck.


Advice from Katie


She seems to be taking her anger over the divorce out on you. That sucks. I mean, I don't know the situation but it's not like it was your fault. And now you're a prisoner. Try to see your boyfriend at school and, I guess, hang out in front of the house with him. Do the best you can. And tell her that the cheerleader or girly lifestyle is not your thing. Hopefully, she'll respect that. And the "hideous" thing, well…Moms don't always know what's supposed to look good; they can only go on what they see (traaaaagic). Also, if you have really good posture, Moms tend to overlook your questionable fashion choices. They really dig good posture.


To say my mother and me aren't close is a massive understatement. We rarely have a conversation without it turning into an argument. And when we do, I'm holding back so much resentment for whatever she's saying we end up having a bigger argument later on anyway. We never really "talked" as mothers and daughters should, and I fell out with her a lot as a child. She called them my tantrums, and said I never grew out of the "terrible twos". But over the last few years' lack of communications it has worsened dramatically. There have been a lot of problems between me and the rest of the family, and its safe to say I'm really isolated. Luckily, more recently I built bridges with my Dad, and we have a strong relationship now. Unfortunately a few months ago, my parents divorced and he's moved out. I see him quite regularly but ideally I'd prefer to live with him. He'd like me to live with as well, but my mother has strangely put her foot down. She says she wants me to live with her, and is prepared to fight in court. My Dad and me admitted defeat and he's currently renting a room somewhere until the financial settlement is over (so there's no way for me to live with him at the moment anywhere). A similar situation arose over Christmas and my mother banned me from seeing my Dad on Christmas day saying "she wanted me here." Her friend later told me it appeared to more a case of she didn't want me to be with my dad. She saw it as he was "winning" something. So I suspect its the same thing with living arrangements.

How can I convince my mum to put the bitterness between her and my dads split aside and see that living with her is not the best thing for me emotionally? (Considering anytime I talk to her about the way I feel she takes it as a criticism and immediately "attacks" me back in defense.) I feel like she's treating life as a strategic game and I'm caught up in the middle. She says things she thinks makes her look a good mother, but I know different. ~~Rebecca

Advice from Melissa

Dear Rebecca:

I'm sorry you currently don't have a great relationship with your mother. That CAN change though. But for now, you seem to be caught in the middle of adult nastiness. That's not fair to you. I don't know how old you are, but there is a time/place when you can actually CHOOSE to live with your dad. Also, dad's have legal rights in terms of scheduled visits (unless the courts say otherwise) so I'm not sure your mom can arbitrarily decide that you can't see your dad. You need an outlet for your feelings…maybe write a journal /diary or do so online. You need to express your thoughts in a constructive way to get them off your chest This being said, the greater issue here is your relationship with your mom. I think you both need some family counseling to deal with anger management. You don't know all the details/stress/issues she is facing, and at the same time, it's unfair for her to withhold your time with dad just because she is upset. My first piece of advice is go to your school counselor. School counselors are trained to help provide CONFIDENTIAL assistance or guide students/parents to appropriate resources that can help with these situations. In the meantime, check out this site and I hope things get better for you soon:

Young Women's Health-Divorce

Also, if you really need to talk with someone right away, there's a teen hotline you can call free of charge and it's anonymous: National Hotline 1-800-448-3000

Advice from Katie

Rebecca, Wow. I'm sorry.

First of all, let me say that this is a little over my head. With the divorce and all of that, I'm not entirely sure how all the legalities work. I know that she shouldn't be able to keep you from seeing your dad if you want to- and she shouldn't be putting you in the middle of her divorce. I think that you guys should probably get outside counseling- go to your school and see if they have options available for you-because if you bring this to an outside source, its likely that your mom will at least grudgingly "play the part" of a good mother and let you see your dad.


''Hello! I'm a thirteen year old girl and my mother does not allow me to go out often. My curfew is 6:30 pm and I think its too early. All my friends have all the freedom they have but why can't I have it too? Please tell me what to do to make my mother let me go out and have some freedom. ~~Confused

Advice from Melissa

Dear Confused:

Your mother is being protective of you because she loves you. As much as kids complain about curfews and rules, they mostly understand and appreciate them. Really, I'm not kidding! You have to gradually earn trust/respect to have later curfews, and this also means you'll have to be patient until you're a little older. The lame excuse "but everyone else is (fill in blank here)..." generally doesn't hold water. If you ensure your mom knows all of your friends, their parents, and you show responsibility with regard current curfews, to your school grades and family obligations, over time, she should allow you a little more leeway. Hang in there.


Advice from Katie

Hi Confused:

Hopefully, your curfew will get more relaxed as you get older. You mom should trust you more when you're out, just make sure she knows that you're worthy of trusting, and that if you appeal to her about your curfew make sure that you keep your cool and act really mature, or else she'll have no reason to treat you like more of an adult.


''I don`t know how to deal with my mother. I mean I help with everything I can and I know that she is like really stressed and everything but she constantly yells at me. And I am always last on her priority list; I`m aways stuck with my niece who lives with us, and if I ask her to do even the littlest thing that causes her inconvenience, she flips! Sometimes it gets so bad I even resort to cutting, how can I explain to my mom how she is making me feel? ~~ Michelle

Advice from the Teens Editor

Hi Michelle,It sounds like you feel left out in your family, especially since an "outsider," your niece, is living with you. I'm concerned about you since you mentioned cutting yourself. Obviously you know that is an extreme way to deal with your feelings. Internalizing your feelings doesn't help and it will only lead to more pain. I suggest that you find a "mediator" to help you discuss your problems with your mother. You need a safe place to discuss your problems without fear of being yelled at and without any interruptions.

As much as many teens hate seeing their guidance counselor, it is a very good place to start. Guidance counselors can help you with school problems as well as personal and family problems. Other people you can turn to include your youth pastor at church or speak with a counselor at the Girls and Boys Town hotline. Call 1-800-448-3000 and they will help you 24/7 - everything you say is kept confidential.

Don't wait to get help- things can't get better until you take that first step.

~~Charlotte Gerber, Teens Editor

Why do teenage daughters and their mothers spar so hard core? Where does it come from, and how do you get past that? ~~Max

Advice from Melissa

Hi Max:How long do you have? The answer can be long and complicated. However, part of the natural cycle of growing up is when teens establish a contrarian attitude to show their independence. With mothers and daughters, there are all kinds of theories--- from subconscious competitiveness for male attention, to hormonal issues with monthly cycles, to the simplicity of oil and vinegar just not mixing well. Fathers and sons, often go through something similar, but with women, there tends to be added complexities. It's not unusual, but constant arguing can create internal family strife at times. In my own experience, this time period of sparring was particularly hard on my husband, who was often dragged into taking "sides." We had to work out early on in the relationship that mom and dad were a united front (even if we disagreed privately). However, in most cases, daughters outgrow this phase and can become the best of friends with their moms. There's an old saying that a 16 year old girl says: Mom, you don't know anything. Then the same young lady at 21: Mom, how did you learn so much in 5 years? If the sparring is severe and causing extreme riff in family dynamics, I would suggest professional help. Otherwise, just hang in there and it will pass. Just be careful not to get in the middle!

Advice from Katie

Hi Max,I'm fairly certain that EVERY teenage girl fights with her mother, for one reason or another- even the Gilmore Girls fought, once. The reasons are vast and too many to list, and I won't even try. I would venture to guess that the majority of these fights, however different they appear, all come from the same source: the teenage girl believes she is an adult, the mother thinks her daughter is still a child, and so they clash, when really, the answer is somewhere in the middle. In the words of the noted adolescent psychologist Britney Spears, these young ladies are "not [girls], not yet [women]" and "all [they] need is time." And yes, I just quoted Britney Spears. Excuse me, I have to go die now.


More Ask the Teen Team Questions and Answers

Teen Fashion


Teens and School

Growing Up

  • Teen Health and Beauty
Was this page useful?
Mother and Daughter Relationships