How To Stop Overcompensating As A Mom

Overcompensating is a balm not just for lips but for a woman’s heart.

lip balm

It is the main way that women, and mom in particular, deal with the comparison and criticism they face daily.


When a daughter does not feel and experience the safety, security, & satiety she needs from her mom, that usually leads to some form of behavior to make herself feel like she is enough.


If a woman, as a daughter, has not faced and dealt with this need not being met, then the compensatory behavior gets even more magnified when she becomes a mother; especially if she herself has a daughter.


There’s hope, though. Keep reading and at the end,  I share a 6-step process for addressing the overcompensation pattern in your mother-daughter relationship.


Overcompensation Is Insidious

The pattern of interactions between a mother and daughter has a particular arc.


A mom’s relationship with her own mom shapes the woman she currently is. Raising a daughter, a mother “sees herself” – at least some aspects of herself – in her daughter. That image brings up feelings in a mom.


Her daughter, who is experiencing life for the first time and trying to “figure things out,” looks up to her mom to whatever degree.


Now, depending on what a mom thinks and feels about the feelings the sight of her daughter brings up in her, their interactions will trigger a mom’s drive to compensate.


To Compensate or Overcompensate


Whether in business or motherhood, compensating is like propping up a stool with a piece of folded paper.


It’s a reaction to things not feeling balanced or steady within yourself or life situation. either “going to another table” OR not sitting at a table in that eatery ever again.


Overcompensation comes from the root word “compensate” — to pay in exchange for receiving something. When a transaction occurs that elicits a compensatory response, that means that the transaction was seen by both parties to be warranted and justifiable. Someone does a task and you pay them for their time, talent, and effort.


For example, a restaurant server takes your order and brings you your food and then you pay for the cost of the food you’ve eaten.


The word “over” added onto “compensate” means that more is given. In the restaurant example, the “tip” comes from a general heart place — space — within the diner as a way of saying an extra special “thank you” to the server.


However, in reference to interpersonal relationships, the connotation is different. The over “payment” is coming from a sense of lack. The person doing the “over payment” is doing so from an unconscious heart place that is feeling that something more is owed because she is deficient in some way. That deficiency is what women, and moms in particular, call feeling “not enough.”


The Perils Of Overcompensating In Business & Motherhood


In business, overcompensating can lead to your being driven towards doing things that (unconsciously) make you feel better about yourself. However, it ends up leaving you prone to overlook the real desires of your heart.


In motherhood, when you overcompensate you are more susceptible to overlook what is right in front of you. Most oftentimes, what you overlook is your daughter’s behavior. And in overlooking her behavior you are also overlooking – not seeing – her.


When our family arrived in North Carolina’s Triangle area, my eldest daughter, Candace, reluctantly started her dog-walking business after my husband and I encouraged her to do something productive with her time over the summer.


Just Trying To Help Can Negate Your Help

Being my quiet child, Candace reminded me of myself when I was her age. Not wanting to force her (like my mom had done to me) to get out and be social with strangers, I assumed that she’d find the “meet & greet” hard to do.

So, I gave her templates to use to guide her through that process.


On a deeper level, though, my nervousness was all about not wanting our new neighbors to misjudge or ignore her.


I rationalized away those thoughts under the pretense of “just being helpful to” and “sharing my business knowledge with” her.


My compensating was in my giving her templates to get her started.


My overcompensating came in the form of the additional “advice” I would give her after she’d return home from a prospecting meeting – all excited about having landed a client. That advice was in the form of additional things she could do for her business.


It wasn’t until this one particular day, after she’d successfully marketed and landed a new client on her own, that she asked me to stop giving her advice. She adamantly held up both her hands for me to stop talking and said, “Stop giving me your advice. I’ve got this.”


In that moment, I realized that in my overcompensating advice-giving I’d not only overlooked her accomplishment but also didn’t see her in how she’d demonstrated her competency.


I’ve since adjusted my pattern interacting with Candace.

Tips To Overcome Overcompensation


To overcome overcompensation patterns of interaction with your daughter, you can do the following:

  1. Accept her present emotional state. (Turn to face her with an open welcoming countenance when she enters your space…a.k.a. “smile”)
  2. Acknowledge her presence. (Say, “Hi. It’s good to see you.”)
  3. Ask her about her experiences. (Say, “How is your day/are things going?)
  4. Attend to listening. (a.k.a. Keep your mouth shut.)
  5. Acknowledge her experience. (Say, “I hear you. Sounds like you __(fill in facts of what you just heard her say).
  6. Accept her emotions. (Say, “Yes, that sounds __(name the feeling she’s conveying__)


Try these six steps. Over time, they will yield results.



Overcompensation leads to overlooking what is in front of us.

To correct this pattern in your mother-daughter relationship it’ll be important to

  • Accept her emotional state.
  • Acknowledge her presence.
  • Ask her about her experience.
  • Attend to listening.
  • Acknowledge her experience.
  • Accept her emotions.


Still feeling frustrated with all your past attempts to connect and unsure of how to proceed with your mother-daughter relationship?

Schedule a FREE 15-minute Discovery Call 



©Dr. Michelle Deering



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