You’re not a baby anymore, but you’ll always be “Mommy’s Little Girl” — sound familiar? If you’re a boss with a career and a life of your own, feeling like your mother still sees you as a child can be frustrating. The transition that happens as you begin #adulting and “growing up” can affect your relationship with your mom, often leading to petty arguments, tension and confusion.
As you become less dependent on your parents for everything from money and support to advice and validation, your relationships with them evolve. Nailing this transition (and learning how to talk about the tough stuff — yup, even dating) takes dynamic, direct and loving communication — and sometimes a little coaching too.
Josselyne Herman-Saccio is a communication expert with Landmark, a global personal development company that helps people experience breakthroughs in perspective, performance, communication, relationships and overall satisfaction in life. I attended a seminar with her last year, and what she taught really deepened my communication with my mom. I couldn’t wait to ask her for more valuable tips and ideas to help other women.
When talking about her own relationship with her mother, Josselyne emphasized that understanding different perspectives is paramount to maintaining a strong relationship. She shared, “I have given up the right to be right with my mother — it’s just not important. I just let her express herself — I don’t have to prove a point or get her to see things from my view. Mostly people argue because they think their view is the truth. Once you get that there are different views, they can have their view without you having to prove them wrong or prove yours right, so it doesn’t threaten you.”
Scroll on to learn more of Josselyne’s tips for having a fantastic relationship with your mom — including sharing your dating life, arguing less and getting closer after college. With this kind of advice, you’ll be smooth-sailing Mother’s Day weekend and beyond.
How to evolve your relationship with your mom
Josselyne says that your behavior is key here. Many young women complain that their mothers still see them as little girls, but they forget how their behavior might contribute to what is happening. Taking responsibility for your role will give you more power. “Actions will speak louder than words. Mothers mostly relate to their daughters as children because they act like children when around their mothers. They slip into old, familiar patterns of being and action. Create the YOU you want to be known as by your mother, and then act consistently with that. If you want to be powerful and patient, be that, versus reacting with her like she is not giving you what you want.”
How to maintain your relationship with your mom from afar
Distance doesn’t have to be a barrier to your connection. If you moved miles away to pursue your career, remember that “connection doesn’t have to be physical,” says Josselyne. “The phone, Skype and even email can be a way of connecting; but the point is to really be present when talking to her, versus being distracted or half paying attention on the call.” If you’re texting away during every chat, you’re not going to reap the benefits of your communication, regardless of the medium.
Bonus tip: If you really want to see your mom more often, put “by whens” on your plans together: Set a date for your next visit. This is goal setting 101 — because as the saying goes, a goal without a deadline is a wish.
How to talk to your mom about your dating life
Start by being more carefree and relaxed. “Let go of embarrassment. It’s only when you feel embarrassed about talking to your mother about dating that your conversation feels strained or weird. Authentically communicate about your dating experiences. Your mother may have more to contribute to the conversation than you think.”
Josselyne suggests that you can also create a “game,” especially if your mom is dating too, to add a sense of fun and play to these chats. “How many dates do you want to go on this week, and how many does she want to have? What actions will you take to create that? What possibility are you creating before you go on each date? Joy? Adventure? Communication? Share those possibilities with each other beforehand and report back to each other after each date or at the end of the week.”
How to help your mom “get” your life and understand you
So many young women complain “my mother doesn’t understand me,” but the more you say it, the more you’re going to feel that way. You’re going to keep gathering evidence for your concept of whatever “understanding” is and how it is “supposed” to look. Josselyne adds: “Understanding is overrated. It sounds like you have something you are trying to prove. It’s not her job to understand you. Just love her and be you, whether she understands it or not. Being loving and patient and listening to her goes a long way.”
How to stop arguing with your mom
This is the million dollar answer: “Give up being right and making her wrong.” One of my takeaways from speaking with Josselyne was that sometimes the only reason you’re arguing is because you want the payoff of being right. Sometimes giving that up is all it takes to calm everything down.
Bonus tip: For Mother’s Day, do an activity your mother loves, even if you’d never participate in it. You may love Pinterest, while your mom loves old-school catalog shopping, so even if that’s not your thing, get into it for the day and let Mom share with you.
The best advice for communicating with moms
Have something that you’re committed to — or “standing in” — be the driving force for your conversations and your style of relating to your mother. Says Josselyne: “Stand in love. Ultimately, that’s what’s most important. Nothing else warrants much energy. You can just ask yourself, what do you want your relationship with your mother to be about? Do you want it to be about being right or having her approve of you, or do you want it to be about expressing your love for her? You literally have the power to say what your relationship is gonna be about — the quality of your relationship, the experience of your relationship — it’s all up to you.”
Language is a powerful force that can create and connect you with your mom in all the ways you dream of. Don’t allow your love to be a form of “undelivered communication.” Say how much she matters to you — after all, you only get one mom!
Is your mom turning into your best friend now that you’re an adult? Tweet (or tag us in that Mother’s Day Instagram photo) @BritandCo and let us know!
(Photos via Getty)