WHEN YOU AND YOUR MOTHER CAN’T BE FRIENDS-Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life

Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life
By Victoria Secunda
Dell Publishing- Bantam/Doubleday/Dell
Learn how your relationship with your mother colors your other relationships and influences your choice of a mate, how to recognize the difference between a healthy or destructive mother-daughter relationship, how mothers manipulate us and how we react, why you tend to become your mother’s opposite- or her twin, how to find your truest self, and how to stop the cycle.
The book discusses the Bad Mommy Taboo, in which many in society refuse to accept that a mother can be destructive to her children, but prefer to see all moms as warm, loving, “America and apple pie” types. Great pressure is put on adult children not to mention or discuss anything bad their mothers might do, and to accept abuse because “she’s your mother”. A daughter who rebels or stands up and tells the truth is often criticized by acquaintances, and even outcast from the family. “And so the Bad Mommy on a cultural level gets protected. Or she protects herself. Or she is protected by her husband.”
We learn about the Evolution of the Unpleasable Mother, and there are chapters covering different types of abusive mothers, including the Doormat, the Critic, the Smotherer, the Avenger, and the Deserter. Part Three discusses how daughters react to our mothers’ destructiveness, many by becoming the Angel, the Superachiever, the Cipher, the Troublemaker, or the Defector.
In Part Four, we are given suggestions for breaking the cycle and redefining the mother-daughter relationship. We are helped to understand what kind of relationship, if any, might be possible for us to maintain with our own mother. We might be able to achieve a genuine, loving, respectful friendship. We might settle for a “truce” in which we manage to have a relationship on a limited basis without compromising ourselves beyond our tolerance- one in which we successfully enforce boundaries. Or the only way we may be able to survive might be to “divorce” our mother. One women explained,”….I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I am much better off never seeing her again. She’s just not good for my mental health.” We are encouraged to make divorce a last resort, and to expect social censure from those who have their own reasons for not understanding and feel it is their place to judge us.
The author tells us, “Of the women I interviewed who have divorced their mothers, there isn’t one who wouldn’t have gladly sacrificed just about anything to avoid the harrowing conclusion that it was the only alternative. What most people fail to realize is that a daughter makes so heretical a move only after years of trying to make it unnecessary.” The reader is taught “that life- and a healthy adulthood- may not include your mother.”
This book is well-researched and well-balanced. Many suggestions are given for trying to improve our relationship with our mother, but the reality that this may not be possible is not denied. It is important to see how our victimization influences our personality and impacts our other relationships, and to stop the cycle before it affects the next generation.
Drawing on years of research and hundreds of interviews, the author “shows you how to let go, gain understanding and acceptance- or achieve a separate peace at last.