As an adult, do you still have trouble getting along with mom? You're not alone. Here is some advice for daughters.
• Know what your triggers are and steer clear of them to help avoid acrimony between you and your mother.
• If you know you are going to be upset after seeing your mother, plan ahead to phone a friend or see a therapist. That can be something to look forward to during the encounter.
• Try to figure out what kind of relationship is possible, to distinguish between what you actually have and what you long for. It's possible to be so focused on what you don't have that you can't take in what is actually there.
• To change the relationship, you must first change your response to it, says Barbara Dorian, head of the Society, Women and Health program at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. "Refuse to play the game. Lay down your weapons. Stop nursing past grudges and recognize that we all, as children, have distorted, overinterpreted, misunderstood views of our parent-child relationships."
• Try stepping out of your platform mules and into your mother's sensible pumps sometimes. "Try to really think of what it would have been like for a mother to have a kid like you," says Dorian.
• Don't worry if you can't figure it all out. Despite the volumes written about the mother-daughter relationship, it's probably more complex than we can ever find words for. "There's a limit to how much we can consciously know," says Pat Archer, a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto. "And that's actually a hopeful thing: some stages of stress can't be grappled with consciously, but they can be lived through. And things will change just by living through them."