Mother’s Day: Strained Relations Are Hard

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been reflecting on the of moms and daughters who have sought out help from me over the past 20-plus years that I’ve been working as a Mother Daughter Relationship Personal Trainer and psychologist. For many, Mother’s Day can be a very emotionally-laden time because of the mother-daughter relationship being strained or even estranged.

Reasons For Estrangement

In my book, What Mothers Never Tell Their Daughters: 5 Keys to Building Trust, Restoring Connection, & Strengthening Relationships, I cover the way in which moms and daughter make missteps in their interactions and how to fix it.

Generally-speaking, though, there are three areas which when strained can cause a breakdown in your mother-daughter relationship. I call them the ABCs of mom-daughter behaviors:

A is for Acceptance:

A strain that leads to the breakdown of a mother-daughter relationship is when there are unmet expectations and needs that occur. When those expectations and needs are not met, then it can make it hard for a mom to fully accept her daughter, and vise versa.

B is for Boundaries:

A mother-daughter relationship is in jeopardy when there are breaches in the “lines” that (physically, emotionally/mentally, spiritually) distinguish each of them as separate entities. Not respecting the boundaries each of you has will erode away at and can eventually break your relationship if these issues are not addressed between the both of you.

C is for Communication:

When non-acceptance of and breached boundaries exits between each of you, then that increases the likelihood of communication going awry and muddying the waters. Words and

sentiments are reactively spoken (or unspoken), leaving a trail of hurt lines within your heart and mind.

Signs Of A Strained/Estranged Mom-Daughter Relationship

Reactive sentiments verbally or behaviorally expressed between moms and daughters can do much harm not only to each their mental and emotional health but also their physical health in the form of stress.

Stress occurs when you perceive that your internal (mental, emotional, and physical) resources are not sufficient to meet the external demands that you face. Our bodies are built for and thrive when there is a harmonious flow between its different parts. Researchers have found that stress is a leading contributing factor in the development of inflammation and health issues, especially for women.

So, when stress is ongoing and/or weighty on those “harmonious” biological systems, then cortisol levels increase and wreak havoc on how you physically feel.

Some examples that may indicate that you have ongoing stress present in your mother-daughter relationships are when or if have ever found yourself feeling or saying to yourself:

  • “I feel like I’m walking on eggshells..,”
  • “I’ll just keep the peace…”
  • “I’ll just put up with…”
  • “I don’t feel safe…”

Key Steps To Address The Strain

If you think and feel that you have a strained, estranged, or even “toxic” relationship with your mom or daughter, there are three steps you can start now to address your situation.

First, you need to…

Pause To Consider the body of behavior™”

Dr. Michelle Deering

…that both you and your mom are doing. This is my mantra that I share with every mom and daughter I encounter. The reason I say this is because it takes two to tango; there is a “dance” that occurs between every mom and daughter. If you don’t pause to consider that “dance,” then you’ll continue to get knocked off your feet and land in or on places that don’t feel good.

Second, you need to identify what it is exactly about your relationship that is really bothersome for you.

Third, you’ll need to get help. Sources of help could be counseling/therapy – (I’m pretty biased towards this option), resources (like my book, 1:1 Program, or my online course), or a mom community.

A Key Matter To Consider For “Toxic” Behaviors

Often times you hear the word “toxic” mentioned when the topic of strained mother-daughter relationships is discussed. There are many situations and diagnosable psychiatric conditions that could/would warrant that term being used.

While everyone’s journey with their mom or daughter is different, there is one key matter to keep in mind.

If you are finding that the interactions with your mom (or daughter) are destabilizing your sense of self, safety, and security, then you may want to consider finding ways to proactively provide yourself the space you to need to heal.

While this may mean establishing and maintaining new types of boundaries, for other it may mean cutting ties and moving on with your life.

And if you end up having to cut ties and permanently separate from your mom or daughter, always remember:

  • your mom has limitations
  • your needs matter…and can be met in health-promoting ways
  • your feelings are real (especially the feelings of loss, abandonment, grief)


Mother’s Day can be a day that is not always full of pleasant thoughts, loving feelings, or close connection with your mom. If your mother-daughter relationship feels strained or you’re both estranged, it’ll be important to:

  • understand the ABCs of your mom-daughter behavior
  • know the signs of a strained mother-daughter relationship
  • take three key steps to address the strain

If you and your mom are estranged,

… then CLICK HERE à To Watch This Free Workshop Video by The Estrangement Project™

©2023 Dr. Michelle Deering | All rights reserved.


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