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My mother turned me into a woman

My Mother Turned Me Into A Woman


M y mother has three children. One of the things all three of us distinctly remember is the way she would constantly compare her experiences as a mother in the U. When she gave birth to my brother, she felt supported. When she gave birth to my sister and me, she felt alone.

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Instead, Sandeep needed to understand the multigenerational sociocultural environment in which she and her mother lived.

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Her parents immigrated to England from India before Sandeep was born. Sandeep was a young college student who lived at home. In this article, I share two insights that will help counselors understand the dynamics between a mother and daughter of any age. These insights come from the mother-daughter attachment model I have developed through my plus years of listening to thousands of mothers and daughters of all ages from different countries and cultures.

My role as a mother-daughter therapist was to help Sandeep uncover the sexism she had inherited from her mother and grandmother that had silenced her voice. It is an adaptation of the genogram exercise that family therapists use.

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She said that she struggled to identify the core reasons for their arguments, and she knew that the communication skills and boundaries she tried to instill in them did not address the core reasons for their relationship difficulties. She blogs for the American Counseling Association and has presented her mother-daughter attachment model at professional conferences, on Canadian television, and at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

This is the primary exercise in the mother-daughter attachment model.

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She said the males in the family were encouraged to go to college and build their careers, while the females were expected to stay at home to help their mothers. I have never found hormones or personality traits to be the core reasons for mother-daughter relationship conflict, however.

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My work with Sandeep involved teaching her how to listen to her own voice. When I start working with new clients, I map their mother-daughter history. Detailed instructions on using this exercise with clients are available in my book The Mother-Daughter Puzzle. Sadly, this counselor is not alone. This mother and daughter team coached each mother as they decontaminated themselves from their internalized sexism and self-silencing habits. This belief system does not recognize women as people with needs of their own. Through her therapy, Sandeep learned the degree to which her family members did not tolerate women challenging their long-held beliefs about what women could and could not do and could and could not wear.

To access writing guidelines and tips for having an article turned for publication, go to ct. This lack of focus on the mother-daughter relationship creates unnecessary anxiety among counselors and psychotherapists, and frustration for female clients. However, if one person is not able, or willing, to participate, healing is still possible. When mothers and daughters band together, they create an impenetrable wall of resistance against family members who are threatened by women claiming their rights.

It made her feel that her daughter was criticizing the life and values she believed in as a woman. Based on the inquiries I receive from mothers and adult daughters from different countries, I believe that a larger, societywide dynamic is contributing to their relationship conflict. She desired an emotionally honest relationship with her mom. Of course, Sandeep and I had little control over how her mother would respond to the changes Sandeep needed in their relationship. To illustrate, I share my work with Miriam, a doctor from Sweden who comes from a feminist family name and identifying into have been changed.

In the first insight, I show that the mother-daughter relationship is not difficult to understand once we realize that mothers and daughters do not relate in a cultural vacuum. An experienced counselor recently admitted to me that she felt out of her depth when a mother and adult daughter both came to see her for help with their incessant arguing.

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Rather, I have concluded that society sets mothers and daughters up for conflict. We see how life events, restrictive gender roles, unrealized career goals, and the expectation that women should sacrifice their needs in their caregiving role all shape how mothers and daughters view themselves and each other and how they communicate.

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I have had the honor of working with many pioneering mothers and daughters who dared to dream of a reality in which mothers and daughters are no longer starving for attention and fighting for crumbs of affection. Sandeep reported to me that she was the only person who gave her mother love and care, so the thought of Sandeep leaving home must have been terrifying to her mother. Happily, I am seeing a huge shift from adult daughters in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are waking up to this patriarchal theme and wanting change.

Families that subscribe to the culture of female service expect mothers and daughters to be selfless, sacrificial, self-neglecting caregivers.

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As is the case with any couple, mothers and daughters rarely fight over what they say they are arguing over. This means that the daughter will grow up to be as emotionally mute as her mother, thus setting up her future daughter to try to learn to interpret and meet her unvoiced needs. Sandeep represented the first woman in her generational family to finish school and go to college.

I chose to specialize in the mother-daughter relationship back in the s because that relationship is central to women understanding themselves. Counseling Today reviews unsolicited articles written by American Counseling Association members. Sandeep came to see me because she was feeling depressed about how critical her mother was.

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I had to help Sandeep stay safe and grieve the loss of her family even as she gained her own voice and life. More daughters are asking their mothers to them in therapy so that together they can change these inherited behavioral patterns. Contact her at rosjkehasseldine gmail. It creates an either-or dynamic in which the mother and daughter fight over who gets to be heard and emotionally supported in their relationship because they do not know how to create a normal in which both are heard and supported.

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Mothers and daughters are teaming up and pioneering a new normal in their families — a normal where women are speaking up and demanding to be heard. And they are passing on this new normal to the next generation of sons and daughters. My mother encouraged higher education although her highest attainment was high school.

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My relationship with my mother had shaped who I was, and when my daughter was born 30 years ago, I knew I had to change the harmful themes that were being passed down the generations. In recognizing that mothers and daughters relate within a sociocultural and multigenerational environment, the dynamics between them become easier to grasp.

The model makes the complicated dynamics between mothers and daughters easy to understand, explains why mothers and daughters fight, and teaches how mothers and daughters can build strong, emotionally connected relationships. Sandeep did not know how to ask herself what she thought, felt, or needed emotionally because that conversation was not spoken in her family. This societal expectation makes mothers and daughters blame themselves for causing their relationship difficulties.

What began as a personal quest became my professional mission. For mothers and daughters to build a strong, emotionally connected relationship, it is optimal for both parties to engage in couples therapy. Miriam, having had a far more supportive and empowering upbringing, was able to her daughter to find a new normal for women within their family.

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Sandeep and her mother were no exception to this rule. Miriam, a client from Sweden, contacted me for help with her adolescent daughter. These brave mothers and daughters recognize the harm that patriarchy, sexism, and gender inequality inflict on women, and they have decided that enough is enough. And in my office, all too often I hear mothers and daughters voice their frustrations about the lack of specialized help.

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Colleagues frequently tell me that they feel unprepared when it comes to working with mothers and daughters. I helped her understand the gender inequality her family and culture normalized, and I taught her how to claim her own ideas of who she wanted to be and what she needed in her relationship with her mother — and in all her relationships.

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They blame the absence of specialized training. These daughters recognize that they have learned — from their mothers and from society in general — to be far too tolerant of being silent and practicing self-neglect. I map the experiences the three women have had in their lives, including the gender roles that have defined their lives and limited their choices and power.

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Another common reason mothers and daughters give to explain why they are not getting along is their differing or similar personality traits. She was struggling to juggle her college work with the housework her mother and family expected her to do. To illustrate this dynamic, I share the story of my work with Sandeep, a young college student from England name and identifying details have been changed.

Letters to the editor: ct counseling. Both Miriam and Sandeep come from families in which women have not learned how to ask for what they need. I see how this dynamic makes women invisible, and how being invisible makes women hungry for attention.

She wanted to feel free to say what she felt and needed and for her mother to speak her mind and stop the guessing games.

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The truth is, if my years of experience providing therapy are any indication, many women currently experience mother-daughter relationship conflict. Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

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Mother-daughter history maps provide an in-depth analysis of the multigenerational sociocultural environment in which the women in the family live and what is happening within that environment to cause mothers and daughters to argue, misunderstand each other, and disconnect emotionally. This did not prevent Sandeep from working on understanding and improving her relationship with her mother, however. When one person changes their behavior, the relationship changes to incorporate the new behavior. Mothers and daughters frequently tell me that they feel ashamed about their relationship difficulties.

Insight No. As I write in The Mother-Daughter Puzzlewhen a family does not speak the language that inquires after what women feel and need, mothers and daughters are set up for conflict. Sandeep had consulted a counselor before me who had suggested that her mother might be suffering from a personality disorder. I also map how the men in the family treat their wives and daughters.

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