Like Mother, Like Daughter – Is that So Bad?

How much can you tell about a woman from looking at, or getting to know her mother? Does the old expression, ‘like father like son,’ apply to women the same as it does to men? Is it really fair to say, like mother like daughter?

In the past 5 decades, there has been a lot of research into genetics and DNA. Obviously, our parents give us a great deal of traits, and born in characteristics that play a part in the rest of our lives. We get things such as eye color and hair texture (as well as millions of other things) from the sheer genetics of our parents. But are we all also pre-destined to end up just like our mothers?

The mother daughter relationship is by far one of the most important relationships among women. Research tells us that infants come into this world programmed to know their mothers first and foremost. Before they arrive outside of our bodies, they are in tune to the way we smell, the sound of our heartbeat, the sound of our voice. By the time a child is born, a very physical relationship between mother and daughter has been established. And this relationship while immensely tricky and often difficult is by far one of the most important in the life of a female.

Women, whether related or not operate very differently on an emotional level than men do. For this reason, the relationship between a mother and daughter is one that takes years and years to master. In recent studies, it shows that female children are most affected by their mothers. In fact, things like body image, attitudes about men, trust in life, dreams, and success are often facilitated (or thwarted) by the mother daughter relationship. A daughter, who feels empowered by her mother, will feel empowered in life. A daughter who does not feel accepted by her mother will never feel accepted by anyone else (or herself).

And young girls grow up learning how to be a mother, how to be a wife, how to be everything by watching the way their moms do things. In a sense then, it only seems natural that a conniving, evil, cheating mom will raise a conniving, evil, cheating daughter, right? An abusive mother will raise a daughter who is also abusive, right? The problem with these revelations is that little insight is given to how the daughters feel. Just as a young girl can grow up emulating her mother and wanting to be like her she can also grow up wanting to be anything but. In fact, for many women who grew up in abusive households or less than healthy circumstances, the pull to NOT be like their mother is what internally and emotionally drives them to succeed.

Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., author of The New Don’t Blame Mother (Routledge, 2000), and an anthropologist and expert on human development says that mothers are subconsciously programmed to expect their same sex children to become replicas of themselves. And that this includes lifestyle and behavior. However, with mothers and daughters research has shown that the relationship is evolutionary and is always changing like the ebb and flow of tides. And while daughters may strive at times to separate themselves from their mothers they also feel the innate need to maintain a deep connection, a biological connection with their mothers.

Let’s just say there is a lot of research and studying going on when it comes to mothers and daughters. But is it fair to say, ‘like mother like daughter?’

From a very shallow standpoint, it is fair to assume that if you know a woman’s mother you will know a lot about her. You may get a glimpse of what she will look like when she is 65 years old. If the mother is difficult to deal with, then there is a genetic likelihood that the daughter is as well. If the mother has a big butt, and wrinkled or greyed at a young age then the daughter may have that same predisposition. Certainly, every person is somehow affected and genetically predisposed to have traits of their parents. But it is unfair to assuage or assume that just because a person is born to a set of parents that they will end up just like them.

The truth is that the entire process of growth and development is one that is facilitated by many factors in life. If your mother grew up in the depression, and is stingy or insecure in her efforts to have a satisfied life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be that way. Especially if you grew up in a world that was secure and successful. Every person is rounded by their own experiences, and experience is not born into the genetics of a person. Just because one person sees or feels things one way (even if there is a reason) does not mean that their child will necessarily be the same.

One of the most beautiful things about a mother daughter relationship, is that the daughter gets to learn from her mothers mistakes and missteps if she so chooses. Considering that she is free thinking person, means that her life will definitely be different (if she chooses it to be) than her mothers. But sure, she might still inherit the big butt or the heart problems.



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