When Mothers and Daughters Clash

Posted by Aspen
16 June 2017 | Family, Relationships

Mums are the backbone of our society.

Every person we know has had, has been or is a mother.

Regardless of our current relationships with our mum, one thing is certain. As we grow up, the relationship changes and evolves. Among these changes, there is one life stage that stands out as a key point of tension between mothers and daughters: the 20s.

Why is there specifically tension in the 20s between mothers and daughters?
How do we resolve and/or nurture the relationship if it has hit the fan?

Why tension arises?

The 20s

You and I, as women in our 20s, have been through puberty. We’ve conquered the years of turbulent emotions and situation-induced uncertainty. With independence as a priority, we seek work and relationships that complement who we are.
Biologically, our brains have fully developed too (estimated 23/24 years old and 25/26 for men.)

Because of this, we speak frankly, rationally and feel fairly stable in our emotions (especially when contrasted to the state of mind throughout puberty).

However, this thinking differs from what our mothers are beginning to experience.

Women during menopause – anywhere between 35 – 60

There are a variety of things that occur during menopause. One of the key things is feeling clouded mentally, which limits the ability to communicate emotion and think rationality. This isn’t an intentional decision, but simply a biological reaction.

As we’ve already learnt, the limbic system is what stores all our memories and emotions, and rational language/thinking fail to exist here.

During menopause, women aged anywhere between 35-60, experience fluctuations in estrogen releases.

The purpose for estrogen is to:

  • Help regulate menstrual cycles
  • Help with bone formation
  • Help the body’s cardiovascular system
  • Help to maintain cognitive functions – including emotions and memories

Interestingly enough, estrogen significantly impacts the limbic system. Unlike other areas of the brain, the limbic system is rich with estrogen.


To better explain and help us understand what our loved ones are experiencing during menopause, think about what actually happens during your period (because menopause is like our period…but on steroids.)

Only rather than a smooth, fairly consistent 28-day cycle, menopause can be unpredictable – one day feeling on top of the world, and the next unable to stop crying. As a result, our loved one can feel a different wave of emotions – uncertainty, anxiety, excitement, boredom and vulnerable (to name a few).


What can we do to help those going through menopause?

There’s nothing worse that seeing someone we love doubting themselves. It can be daunting and, at times, frazzling to see someone who’s been a solid foundation throughout our lives, cracking and emotionally turbulent. In the same way that they have been such a rock for us during those developing years, it is time for us to return the favour.

Some practical ways we can help:

1) Empathise
Take the time to stop and listen. Similarly, when we go through PMS, the last thing we want to hear is “just snap out of it.” Being present and helping in the small things will help beyond what words can ever express.
2) Have tea dates
Swap out the coffee. Whilst coffee tastes like liquid gold from the gods, the effects it can have on the brain, only induces stress and anxiety further.
3) Go for a walk together
The impact this can have is HUGE! It boosts all the right chemicals in our brain, including serotonin which is predominantly found in the neocortex (aka. rational/logical part of our brains), that can help to stimulate rational thinking again.
4) Spontaneously treat her to something
A big bear hug, a trip away for her and her close friends, or getting her some flowers. It’s not necessarily what you get, but rather the expression of intention and thought that you care. In our busy culture, it can be easy to sideline things like this as irrelevant, but the payoff of seeing her rest and in joy is well worth it.

It can be overwhelming and emotional when we see our mum’s struggling because for many of us they have been the constant rock in our lives.

Fortunately, it’s only a phase, they just need a lot of loving through it. That’s where you and I have the joy of being able to love and support our mum’s all the more.


WriterAspen Bruce

Born and bred out of New Zealand,  Aspen Bruce, loves anything to do with adventure. Whether it’s exploring the depths of the human brain, hiking in beautiful hillsides close to where she lives, or letting her taste buds dance when drinking Green Tea.

Check out more of her work here.

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