Emma Robinson

When Anne Robinson , host of the BBC's The Weakest Link , shared her book Memoirs of an Unfit Mother with the world, she revealed her deepest family secrets. Anne said that when her daughter, Emma, was 2 years old, she lost custody of her during a painful divorce and struggled with alcoholism.

"I remember the drinking. I remember her walking through a glass kitchen door. I remember visiting her in the hospital," Emma says. "It seems cathartic for mum to look back. For me, it's just painful."

As part of Emma's documentary Travels With My Unfit Mother , mother and daughter put their troubled relationship to the test during a two-week road trip.

"Certainly time spent with my mother was never dull. But for me this road trip will always be known as Driving Miss Crazy," Emma says.
Dr. Gail Saltz and Anne Robinson

Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychotherapist and author of Becoming Real, says that the mother-daughter relationship defines all other relationships in our lives.

"Because mother and daughter are the same sex, there tends to be competition," Dr. Saltz says. "It's not on the surface. But there is that competitive feeling on both sides. A mother envying to some degree her daughter coming up and, you know, being youthful. Getting attention. Having all of her choices in front of her."
Debbie and her daughter Jennifer

Remember meddling mom Debbie who would follow her 27-year-old daughter, Jennifer? After years of tailing Jennifer in her car and checking up on her, Debbie finally has her breakthrough moment—after some tough love from Anne, Oprah and Dr. Saltz.

"I just feel guilty, and I feel like maybe I shouldn't have done it. But I'm treating Jenny—you know, I'm thinking that she's still my little girl," Debbie says.

Debbie asks herself the question many mothers of grown children often struggle with, "Who am I now?"

"The role shifts," Oprah tells Debbie. "You no longer have the same role in your daughter's life at 27 as you did when she was 7, 12, 15, even 17. That role has changed. And you're still trying to hold onto that role. And to have to face the truth, the reality, of becoming real with yourself as to who am I now—that's a scary question for you."
Dr. Gail Saltz and Oprah

Dr. Saltz encourages mothers of grown children to redefine their role and rediscover the dreams of their youth.

"Go home and make a list of who you want to be," Dr. Saltz says. "Who do you want to be in this second half of life? What are things that matter to you? Whether this is about volunteering, working, writing, creating, pottery. It doesn't matter. But what are the dreams that you put aside to be a mother."
Ramona and her daughter Jennifer

Ramona and her daughter, Jennifer, stopped speaking after Jennifer was arrested and thrown in jail for DUI. Jennifer's young daughter was in the car at the time. Ramona had hit her breaking point with her daughter. Jennifer believes the roots of her path of destruction are deep.

"My mother told me that she resented me as a child because she had me too young. She took away my fun as a teenager because she resented that I was having fun when she had to grow up so fast," Jennifer says. "So that defining moment in my life changed me and has caused me to say, well, I need to have fun and run out and go find it, and it's caused destruction, obviously."
Dr. Gail Saltz, Anne Robinson and Oprah

Navigating the mother-daughter relationship can be tricky, says Dr. Saltz. It's naturally highly conflicted because of the intense emotions involved.

"This isn't new, this is age-old," Dr. Saltz says. "I am thinking about all the fairy tales that are out there about mothers who want to off their daughters or somehow the daughter gets to be free of the mother because the mother drops dead somewhere. And the reason those fairy tales have been around forever is because it's an expression of those feelings that are deep inside—this ambivalent love/hate."
FROM: When Your Mother Drives You Crazy
Published on August 01, 2005


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