By Dr. Charles Sophy, LKL Guest Blogger
Botox. Restylane. Breasts implants. Tummy tucks. Face lifts. Hair extensions. Teeth whitening. Crash diets. Cleanses. So much for growing old gracefully!
We live in an age of developing ways to constantly make ourselves look better, look younger. We fight tooth and nail, as a society, and as individuals, against the natural process of aging. Especially women.
Despite decades of the woman’s movement or esteemed women who hold prominent positions of power, after all is said and done….women are viewed as sexual objects. Our culture encompasses a message that is loud and clear: a woman needs to be attractive, and therefore her value in society is based in that sentiment.
Does this affect the mother-daughter relationship? Immensely.
In my newly released book, Side By Side: The Revolutionary Mother-Daughter Program for Conflict-Free Communication, I discuss “hot button issues” like sex, money, values and divorce. An extremely important aspect of a mother-daughter relationship that is vastly overlooked is one of jealousy. In particular, jealousy stemming from a mother’s sense of having certain needs unfulfilled. I call this Perceived Transfer of Sexuality.
I coined the phrase Perceived Transfer of Sexuality (PTS) to describe a phenomenon that is prevalent among my patients, regardless of background or socioeconomic status. PTS is a feeling that many moms have in regards to their daughters somehow taking away their own sexuality. In PTS, perception can lead to the feeling of competition between a mother and her daughter and thus be responsible for some of the most volatile interactions ever seen.
Typically, PTS occurs as a daughter crosses into the threshold of young womanhood. The seeds of discord begin to grow when the role model she once served as for her daughter is usurped by the reminder that her daughter is becoming what she will never be again.
There are two basic reasons for PTS:
1. If prior to having her daughter, the mother was adored for her beauty, success or accomplishments, the perception that her daughter has taken that from her will manifest in the sense of loss. Typically, this can cause mom to direct her resentment and anger at her daughter, both consciously and subconsciously. This type of reaction is about the mother’s needs no longer being met, and she must try to understand why she is unfulfilled within herself.
2. If prior to having her daughter, mom never received the attention she desired. Her unfulfilled needs, whether it be for lack of recognition in talent, beauty, academics, or athletics, are now obtained through her daughter. Mom’s goal will be to attain the validity she never received on her own. Mom can also be resentful that the daughter is traitorous, playing a game she was never included in and succumbing to societal views of women that mom stands against.
It may seem to a mom that her daughter is stealing her sexuality, which realistically cannot happen. If a beautiful, fragrant rose blossoms in your garden, and then a day later a new rose blooms, the first rose does not suddenly lose it’s beauty or fragrance. It is about perception. With societal standards and pressure, is it any wonder that so many women live in fear of losing their beauty? It is, after all, a crucial part of their identity. PTS may be evident in a woman’s jealousy over her husband paying more attention to her daughter than her, a mom crossing boundaries with her daughter’s friends, or even a mom making an advance towards her daughter’s boyfriend.
PTS is often subconscious and hard to identify, and most certainly, difficult for a mother to admit. A woman must be brutally honest about her life in order to recognize the signs of this toxic truth….and in turn to further examine her feelings and possibly move into a healthier emotional place.
Dr. Charles Sophy is a psychiatrist and author of Side By Side: The Revolutionary Mother-Daughter Program for Conflict-Free Communication.
Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive
Mums & Daughters conflict because they cannot empathise. I've seen this age-old strife in my ex-Wife & my Daughter.
Stability shouldn't cause this conflict but it does because of unstable external influences. Unstable Communities for whatever reason, normally hot gossip hit your Darling Beloved Mother of all your years smack in the face just for trying to raise you right.
Always have the right attitude to your Mother. If you can't find the right attitude, you just aren't trying.
Maturity is a very striking issue when you notice the lack of it.
Have you got lack of Maturity in your Community? Notice how it throws back in your Parents' face?
Isn't it far beyond the time those very sadly lacking in Maturity very simply GREW UP?
Check out those towns where there's hardly a management problem. At the root of every problem is a management problem.
Making the wrong waves in the Community costs at least a small fortune & should be addressed as a Discipline issue.
Raising a Child through any Puberty issues is complex enough & when some shrink says he can handle the DEVELOPING Child's problem in completely the wrong manner then he/she is not out to STRENGTHEN CHARACTER.
ILLOGICAL decisions cost EVERYONE a fortune. Replace your ILLOGICAL decisions with LOGICAL decisions & ensure the Child has the right attitude against flaws in the Community.
A Mother wants a proper mature conversation with her Daughter. Go & do Retail Therapy together occassionally & never speaking ill of your Parents means no conflicts whatsoever.
STRENGTHENING CHARACTER is the work of Parents, Family, Community & intended Spouse if appropriate.
All should strengthen their Character to MAKE LOGICAL CONDITIONS.
We've seen those who refused to make logical decisions & did't they just become REPULSIVE?
You are not after a Community of repulsive unintegrated people. Some people are out to screw the Economy anyway they can. By givinging bad advice they can, it fuels gossip & creates false doctrine.
Neither will these monsters apologise for being illogical.
The Decent People's Champion
You are talking about a culture specific issue. Not a Mother-Daughter Universal issue. Surely everybody knows that there are many dark roads to hell and so nobody is going to question your Ph.D for possibly naming one of them with your studies. But this is not Ophra.. This is a CNN blog
Oh, another self help book & lecture. I'm enjoying reading the expertise comments from the Dr. & the male blogger-topis -mother/daughter relationships. Many times it's a tug-of-war. The child many times wants independence sometimes before she's ready. On the otherhand too many times parents would rather be friend s than parent!!!
This is a very interesting topic, and not one to be brushed off. Culture specific issues are universal. Yes, this is not Oprah, but nor is it a light concern. Competition beween mothers and daughters exists regardless of plastic surgery and money. Our culture just happens to focus superficially, but what of the vaue of women where arranged marriages are still commonplace? Even in Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" the problem lies in no one wanting to marry one of the daughters...therefore her sexual value decreases being a reflection of her worth to men. The problem is that mothers are not owning or realizing their own emotions or emptiness. I have seen this issue, first-hand, rear it's ugly head in both family members and friends. Perhaps it would make better for a CNN blog if the good Dr had a story attached where a mother kills her daughter in jealous rage over the same man??
I fought with my gorgeous young daughter because she was apt to do dangerous things, not because she was more beautiful than me (which incidentally is a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact).
What a load of superficial B.S.
This is a an age old problem – a story through the ages. Many fairy tales play into this universal story and were used for mother's and daughters to bond or safely "PUT" these feelings into allegory where the mothers and daughters could both feel safe around these feelings: Rapunzel; sleeping beauty; Snow white and Cinderella-even the Russian Fairytale Baba Yaga-to a certain extent. Often, the story uses the step mother as the jealous one-but these stories represent ancient primitive wishes and experiences made into a palatable myth.
In older times and other cultures, women in groups raise children, grandmothers, aunts mothers together – generations of women were there to raise all children and bring young women into their accepted place in the family. There were customs and religious ceremonies to help with this-Adolescence was treated with reverence and was supposed to be a struggle-women with large families had children well into their 40's even a generation ago. The oldest was leaving home, while an infant was still on Mom's knee-
Everyone had a purpose in the family.
Today , women and daughters are constantly at lagerheads. Women are working usuallu fulltime and are often single mothers. Many teens feel entitled to have all the goodies and toys that a mother can not afford for herself. Adolescents are expected to be indulgent in our culture. Add to that the "glorification of youth and beauty (Young Beauty) and a middle aged woman can lose her sense of sexual self.
Our modern world is terrible to women, especially as they age.
In the work I do-I see mothers sabotaging their daughters, often with great cruelty. I worked with a young mother-in her early 30's single and struggling. She was attractive but very ambilvelant about her daughter.
Her daughter was 15 and beautiful, but also very smart. She wanted to go to university and her mother couldn't deal with that. Mother worked in the cafeteria at the hospital. The mom, made it impossible for the the 15 year old to live at home-Mom was antagonistic, perfectionistic and argumentative. She expected respect but refused to give it-she couldn't control her own angry feelings but expected the 15 year old to control hers...This mom was in denial of her own losses in life, her stresses and feelings of jealousy-she refused to "go there" in group.
In group , especially during breaks-she frequently commented on how "her daughter's days are numbered", "I am kicking her out-that will be therapy for her..." It was very sad.
In the same way-men can also do this to their sons. I knew a man who constantly belittled his little boy-telling him "you will end up a bricklayer in a lumberyard" saying critical things meant to demean his confidence and intelligence-The little boy grew up to be an architect. He was able to rise above his father's feelings of jealousy and with great empathy for his dad's situation , forgave him and had a strong relationship with his dad. Today, that man is an excellent father to his own son.
If a mother cannot see past her own vanity and celebrate a daughter's beauty, accomplishments or gifts, then she is beyond selfish and should not have had children in the first place. Having children is a privilege, not a right. True joy comes from seeing one's child succeed and surpass ourselves.This is a greater joy than one's own success. And don't even get me started talking about grandchildren. Perhaps as a society we just need to love our children more.
@cKelly– How can you say our modern world is horrible to women? Would you rather it be years ago when women could not vote,rarely could advance up the ladder, were only designated to certain professions, majority of tims it was presumed once married you would be a stay @ home mother & not by choice.Woman did all the housework & child care.The man made all the decisions. I beg to differ. The problems today is the word NO is rarely in any parents vocabulary. Children need limitations,boundaries spoken with understanding & care.
My daughter is nearly 15 years old and as much as I love her and would do anything for (and I do) I've been feeling resentment towards her recently which I thought had to do with the fact that her life compared to mine is a dream. I know the experts say that it's a lot harder to be a teenage girl today then it was 10, 15, 20 years ago but she's not working a dead-end job she hates just to pay the bills and she doesn't want for anything. For Christmas she got an iphone even though her school has a strict no cellphone policy because she really wanted one and of course the designer purse she had to have. Was it a struggle to buy her these things, yes but I wanted to do it for her because she is my daughter. After I read this article I realized that I am not jealous of all that my daughter has, but of her youth and beauty. She is beautiful, slim she has long relaxed hair, perfect skin and looks older than her age. I never thought of my daughter as a threat before because she was just a sweet girl who sometimes mouthed off but now I see her in way I never saw her before a woman a woman that men will lust after, how I was in my late teens and early twenties before I became a mother, before I let my looks go so I could take care of my daughter and make sure she had everything I never did. I guess that's the trade-off I hope she remembers how good I was to her and all that I gave up for her to have the great life she has. I think she is going to be grounded till she turns 21.
Until you have had children- and gone through all the stages of childhood in today's world, its hard to understand that a mothers feelings of resentment are common and normal-especially in todays world where marketing to kids and the creation of the entitled generation has been forced on every parent.
@ Keisha Brown-your story is like so many mother's who work so hard for their children to give them the things they never had. Looking after your needs is the most important thing you can do for your daughter. You model for her self care, self love and self respect when you look after yourself...being a martyr never helped anyone.
You are an honest person and can recognize your feelings (good and difficult feelings) YOUR truth-your daughter is very lucky girl:) !
@cKelly-would you really want to be treated like women were 50 years ago. Domestic violence was just as prevalent but rarely was spoken about. Women stayed in an abusive relationship because many times she had no choice. There were no women's shelters. Police did not take domestic violence seriously. Too many times women's opinions were not taken seriously. How many doctors,lawyers,scientists were women? I am glad that in my generation there were choices. Remember the days when men & women sat in different rooms @ parties because women didn't have anything of substance to add to the conversation. Young people have it harder because we as adults taught them status & money were all important.
Police still do not take domestic violence seriously-and many women still stay in violent relationships -even with a choice-Why is murder and crimes against women so high in America if the world is so liberated? Why are so many women murdered after they report their husbands to the police-this was NOT a problem at the turn of the century. More women are abused and murdered today than 80 years ago.
Who says women's opinions were not taken seriously 60 years ago? My grandmother (now would be 120 )raised 3 boys after her husband died on her parents farm and then moved to the city before the war and bought a house which she let out to borders-she grew her own fruit and vegetables canned and jared all her own food and she played violin in a little band and travelled with friends. She saw more of the States and Canada (by car and train) in her youth than most people I know today. My grandmother was half Mohawk,
My other grandmother was from Ireland and would be about 110-my mother said their family life was very happy- Can you imagine Depression era Ireland followed by the rationing of WW2-my mothers health was effected by that poverty. But she said her parents were very happy-they didn't think of themselves as oppressed or poor!! My grandmother certainly didn't feel "OPPRESSED" and was the head of the household and my grandfather was more laid back and was the town's music teacher-all of her children in poor Ireland went to school and had higher education. My aunt is 86 and the convent paid for her university education to become a teacher-she did her masters in History and never married. My mother became a nurse and midwife (her age 81). She travelled to Canada as a nurse and met my dad.
I think we have to get past historical stereotypes imbeded in movies (my mother lived through the same Ireland that Frank McCourt wrote about in Angela's Ashes-and while that was one man's story-it wasn't everyones story. But that image stays in our heads-the movies and some literature-tell us "a story" and we think it truth.
We need to read more. Yes there was Victorian era-but that didn't effect everyone the same way-and most middle class women of the Victorian era write about being "happy" in private letters-not everyone was a sufferjet at the turn of the century-and many didn't want to be.
Every age has its benefits and vices-I believe in this era woman have become more devalued over-all. Yes there have been gains in certain freedoms-but those freedoms have come at a great cost.
cKelly–isn't nice we have the choice to disagree!
people have always being disagreeing-women too.
Yes........it does hold some truths we might not want to admit to. Just quietly. Suppose, it's all part of a process that one has to work through.
I reckon this is a good article and holds true to the times we live in. You have experience it, to probably understand this article.
Have enjoyed reading some of the interesting comments above on this topic.
I have a 22 year old daughter and am experiencing exactly some of the same things mentioned in this article.
Some would probably take things too far or over the top. It's an individual thing.
What sort of a mother would be jealous of her own daughter?
Do u think such women even have children if all they are concerned all the time is about their beauty? There is no justice in the thought that a mother will be JEALOUS (out of all the feelings) of something which is a part of herself...her own flesh and blood...born out of love!!! I totally disagree with this discussion...
@srujana well good for you that you've never had to experience growing up with a jealous mother. If you've never lived it, don't comment on how it doesn't exist.
Depending on the levels of jealousy/rage... it can do a number on a girl's self esteem, when all she wants is a female to look up to.
Someone else had mentioned that there should not be any jealousy what so ever when it comes to your biological Daughter,in the first place didnt you carry her for 9months give or take a few! And didnt u go through the Pain of having Her? You as a mother should Love your own Daughters or Daughter unconditionally through thick or thin whatever comes up during her young Adult hood especially. You are suppose to instill all the Respect and Morals of a Good and Decent Human Being and too always do your Best in what ever they do during theyre Life time. That is what a Good Mother should do and there should not be any Jealousy of any Kind, that is so Ridiculous, I just cant believe what some of U Mothers are saying that. That is So Wrong of U Mothers even thinking that!!! Jealousy is so wrong between a Mother and Daughter,its just not Right, Always Love your Daughters at all Times, No Matter What!!!!!!!!
Having been a victim of this - I can attest to its validity
It sounds like some don't agree with the doctor's comments but I just found this article when a friend suggested I google mother/daughter jealousy. It explained a lot. Just this afternoon my soon to be ex-wife eavesdropped on a phone call between my daughter and myself and went ballistic when she heard of me making plans to spend time with my daughter to take her and my son to a football game. My daughter is 13 and my wife is showing these traits of jealousy and also extreme depression. I feel terrible for my ex because she is still a beautiful woman that I care about tremendously but she is so lost in the fact that she feels she is getting old, she is 45 by the way, which is not old. But, she let my daughter have it and wouldn't let me talk to her. I am in NC and they are in GA. I was leaving to go straight there to check on my daughter but didn't because my daughter called back when she was alone and asked me not to because it would only make her mother more upset with her. I have also gone to GA without letting anyone know I was coming and when I got there I found four young boys there 14-18 drinking beer with my wife with my daughter present and needless to say I hit the roof and put an end to that immediately. My point is that I am living this first hand and I hate it for both of them, what should I do to help.
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