4/19/06

Mothers and Daughters and Communication (or lack thereof!)


Last night, I was invited to a Speakers Series event by one of the meeting industry vendors I work with. The topic: Mothers and Daughters Communication. Larry King interviewed Dr Deborah Tannen on her new book, You're Wearing That?! Understanding Mothers and Daughters In Communication. I took my mom with me to the event.

Dr Tannen's theory was that mothers and daughters argue about the Big Three----hair, weight, and clothes. She also made the point to say that while mothers think they are showing they care by mentioning your haircut looks like crap, daughters take that as a criticism of them as a person, not just the haircut. SO TRUE! Mothers and daughters look and scruntize each other on the same level they look at themselves; no one else in our lives gets that kind of scruntiny. Why then do we look at each other like that? Daughters want approval so every time their mother speaks, she looks for it. If the comment can be turned into a negative, we dauighters turn it, even if it was meant to show caring. Mothers think they are mentioning our bad haircuts, our extra 5 pounds, or our need for imporvement on the house (always a hot topic with my mom) because they care and they want to show their daughter(s) that they care. Daughters---we take that caring as criticism.

As a mother and a daughter, I was able to see both sides of many of the issues Dr. Tannen discussed. However, my thoughts were interuptted 7 times (yes, I counted) by my mother elbowing me throughout the speech. If I have to hear "Oh you do that to me!" one more time I will scream! After the event, my mom and I were heading back to our cars and she says "Oh I dont do anything like that! I dont mention your hair or weight or clothes!". SO I guess the comment the other day about my boobs looking bigger lately and the pants I had on were too tight for her liking didnt count. Oh wait, dont let me forget about the hairbrush she handed me in front of industry colleagues to tell me to brush my hair!

I took my mom with me to this event in the hopes that we could both learned something. Maybe she did. Not too confident about that though. I, on the other hand, did learnsomething. I learned that every one has issues with their mother, no matter how old they are or how close they seem to be. I learned that she does care and criticism comes out of care. And I learned that even though I will continue to stick up for myself, my mother isnt always attacking me, she really does care about me.

So there it is folks! Comment away---mothers vs. daughters always makes for interesting conversation!

4 comments:

Bri said...

So jealous - I did my qualitative thesis on Tannen's theory of Genderlect. It was called, "Sex, Money and the Perfect Marriage". I interviewed 15 engaged couples and got a he/she said version of what they thought it all should be. Dr. Tannen is a phenomenal woman.

And this book - also awesome. It's interesting to read and then do some self-observation. I think for about a week after I read it I caught myself doing the things she was pointing out and identifying actions in my mother. It's hard to remember that I/she do/say things because we care but its true...those bitches do love us as much as we love them!

So-Called Supermom said...

Yep! But my mother still drives me insane!!!! :)

KatieJoeandGrace said...

Mothers and Daughters are such a difficult subject. My mom and I had a HORRIBLE relationship while I was growing up. I just pray that Grace and I will be better. I will definitely keep this book in mind! thanks.

Mom101 said...

My mother recently read this and brought up the same "big three" point to me in he summary. I can honestly say she never ever brought up any of those things with me. In fact when I told her what a pain in the butt my hair always is, she was surprised because it's just not something I've ever mentioned. I feel lucky knowing I have a mom who taught me--through what she DIDN'T talk about--what's really important.