Making Up With Mom

New mothers forge their own paths.

Monday, September 28, 2009

As a new generation of young mothers try to accomplish it all, having good careers and raising families, they also struggle to find common ground with their own mothers. We speak to two mothers about how their own moms have influenced them and how they are forging their own paths: Teresa McMahon is a mother of two and a daughter trying to find common ground with her own mother; Lynna Tsou is a mother of two and a child psychologist. We also speak to Julie Halpert, co-author of "Making Up With Mom: Why Mothers and Daughters Disagree About Kids, Careers and Casseroles (and What to Do About it)."


Julie Halpert, Teresa McMahon and Lynna Tsou


Jen Poyant

Comments [10]

A mother

FranciL, there is complicated and there is abusive and detrimental, which can occur on either or both sides. It is a subject to talk about, perhaps on the off-chance that a mother will read this and understand that putting down your own daughter is indeed abnormal, whether your daughter is 7 or 37.

I know that if my friends treated me the way my mom treated me, they would not be my friends any more and the behavior would also result in an easy divorce in any state if my husband were acting that way. But we are stuck with family and society's expectation that even a negative relationship with one's parents should be tolerated so "the kids can see grandma and grandpa".

Oct. 01 2009 02:17 PM
John Hockenberry

Sorry if there was any offense. I couldn't resist imagining the rich vein of narratives that might come from four generations together in the same household. We don't do extended family so much here in the U.S. and lose so much as a result. If anything I was envious of the dramas in an extended family rather than contemptuous of them in any way. Thanks for the comment.

Sep. 29 2009 09:43 AM

And to you, Camille, the hosts read exactly what you wrote on our website -- it wasn't changed at all when we read on the air. (Leo the producer)

Sep. 29 2009 09:20 AM


I don't know what was said on the radio show about Slovenian women, so I can't comment directly, but I will reiterate that the relationships between generations of family members living together here can be horribly deleterious and abusive. Whether people live together out of habit or poverty, it doesn't any more or less liveable, it is the people working together who can either agree to work together/make each others' lives a living hell.

That said, I agree that we cannot talk about womens'issues in a vacuum. Gender-behavior is learned/taught and if we want to change the dynamics between mothers and daughters we must overall the dynamics between all the genders.

Sep. 29 2009 09:13 AM

I really resented the presentator's comments about the Slovenian woman. It smacked of ignorance about other cultures. Perhaps people should realize that most peoples in the world live like that, due to cultural demands, but mostly because of poverty (even in the USA).
To this day it is severely impeding (young adolescent) daughters, who have no choice but having to live = deal with mother, mother-in-law etc. or having no food or a roof over her head.

What were we complaining about again?

With love we should be able to rise above socially determined female criticizing. If not, that is regrettable,
but at least it will threat our lives.

Sep. 28 2009 10:13 AM
kathleen webster

My mom moved in with us about 5 and half years ago. She has Alzheimer's with stretches of lucidity. Our relationship wasn't "easy" growing up but I appreciate her love and willingness to do whatever it took for us to make it. There are days when it wears on me, but I have to say that I am grateful for the chance to care for her. I appreciate having to “come home” and face whatever was wrong there head on. Not always easy and not what I’d recommend for everyone. But for me it has been a gift. As a mother myself I have been humbled to realize what this job entails, with no institutional support for it. Within the Alzheimer's community, for instance, there is a clear institutionalized understanding of "respite care". Not so with mothering. You are expected to do this job without any real support system. The question I often ask is, “what was life like for my mother as a woman, as a caregiver?”

Sep. 28 2009 10:11 AM

I agree with the person in the discussion who said she has resorted to ignoring her mother and relating to other mother figures. Sometimes this is the only approach, though I believe a last resort. My mother (who passed away at 80 recently) was self absorbed and narcissitic to her dying day and looking for admirers, not love or a relationship with her daugher. (She was competitive with everyone, including her daughter.) After many years of therapy and trying many approaches to reach out to her (she only was content when others and I put her on a pedestal), and feeling it was my fault it wasn't working I've had to move on though sadly and be thankful I did not repeat this pattern as a mother myself.

Sep. 28 2009 09:48 AM
a woman who let go

If all my mother did were to come clean my house, I'd be all for it!
But you have to realize that some mothers out there are simply not mentally all there. My mom has been antagonizing me all my life, and stepped it up in adulthood. She's a manic depressive with paranoid tendencies, and made my life absolutely miserable to the point that I couldn't get my work done.

There was no making up with her, so I changed my phone number and moved. My brothers totally understand and have not given me away for four years. They figure one of us has to be happy. And it's true. I've never been more serene or productive in my life. Sometimes, you just have to let go.

Sep. 28 2009 09:00 AM

I am an American living in Slovenia. Here it is not strange to find three or four generations of a family (a lot of mothers and opinions) living together. Now THAT is something to write about. It can be a huge nightmare!

Sep. 28 2009 08:51 AM

Mothers from generations back have had complicated relationships with their daughters. This is nothing new. These writers put money in their pockets on a subject that is not new. Sheesh!!!

Sep. 28 2009 06:58 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.