A wedding dress is at the center of a heated mother/daughter battle. Jamillah thought her mother Muriel bought her wedding dress as a gift until they had an argument. Jamillah says Muriel stopped taking her calls and refused to give her the dress! Muriel made her intentions clear in a letter: Send the money and I'll send the dress. Otherwise, off to eBay it goes!

"I bought the dress because I felt that I had to buy the dress," says Muriel. "Because I'm a mother and I should. I had boundaries for how much the dress should cost. The dress was way over the budget. The reason I want her to pay for the dress is because the dress was purchased out of a deep and abiding love that I no longer feel."

It's been nearly a year since Jamillah and her mother Muriel have spoken. With the wedding date quickly approaching, Jamillah wonders, can she have her dream dress and her mother at her wedding?

Expert Advice
Syndicated advice columnist and author Harriette Cole says that Muriel, 54, and Jamillah, 30, have reached a crossroads in their relationship that is normal for many mothers and daughters at these ages. The main challenge is to meet each other where they are now, in the moment. Muriel is a woman who has come into her own. Jamillah is a woman who is growing into her own. What happened in the past has to stay in the past.

"You have all this history," says Harriette. "But we're at a point where you [Jamillah] are about to change your life. One of the most sacred times is the time when you get married. It also can be a changing point. Instead of dwelling on the past, why don't both of you try to love each other in ways that will touch each other."

More Than Buyer's Remorse
Jamillah and Muriel have unresolved issues regarding money, which is a huge issue for many people. After years of supporting Jamillah and not receiving the kind of love that she wanted, Muriel regrets having bought the dress.

"The problem is that it's not about the dress, it's about the relationship," says Harriette. "The dress is just a symbol of something bigger between you. Your daughter is getting married and you haven't talked to her in a year. It sounds like both of you are holding something back so [your love] is not unconditional."

Advice for Mothers
  • You don't have to accept every problem as yours, but don't hold grudges that years later will turn into holding onto "the dress."
  • You've taught your daughter how to treat you. If you are feeling unappreciated, tell your daughter how you want your relationship to change.
  • Be clear in your intentions. Saying "Don't call me" and then being upset because she doesn't call sends a mixed message.

Advice for Daughters
  • Your mother wants to feel loved and appreciated for making you the wonderful adult you are. She wants you to call and sincerely say, "Momma, I miss you," or "How are you?"
  • Realize it's difficult for some mothers to stop seeing their adult daughters as teenagers.
  • Be clear in your intentions; you want to be talked to as a full-grown woman. Continue this dialogue, which is very tender right now, woman to woman.


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