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SM: How can someone adjust her mother-daughter relationship if she feel she's crossed the line into best friendship?

SMS: This is really the whole purpose of the book: how to reestablish those kinds of healthy bonds. Because women are connected by talk, that's how we establish a relationship: Communicating what's going on and how to get out of that toxic relationship is what we do best.

The first step is to recognize it. If a mother is being too intrusive—trying to control the daughter's life in ways that don't seem healthy and in ways that the daughter doesn't really want to be controlled—the daughter needs to speak up.

I think a mother treats a daughter more like an adult when a daughter has her adult voice and can really speak to what her needs are, in the same way that a mother can. If a mother models that kind of behavior, then her daughter will also have permission to have her own voice in that relationship.

The thing that's so important to remember is that this mother-daughter relationship extends to all other relationships that the daughter will have in her life. Because a woman is going to be a mother hopefully for about 50 years with an adult daughter, it's really important that you have that kind of communication to get it right.

LPG: I think for a mother just to see her daughter as an adult and her own person, even if she's not acting adult, is really important. It's also important for a daughter to step back a little bit from her historical need to have her mother fix everything, think of her mother less as the "all-giving tree," and know that her mother is a person too.

Read an excerpt from Too Close for Comfort? Questioning the Intimacy of Today's New Mother-Daughter Relationship

More on Mother-Daughter Relationships


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