When Moms and Daughters Become Friends
The climb up the mountain wasn’t any more difficult than we imagined, but the altitude sickness was horrific. The summer before my daughter’s senior year of high school, she decided to join a school group on a wilderness adventure trip. Always one for a good time, I agreed to go along as a chaperone–after all how hard could it be?
No amount of training could have prepared us for the altitude sickness that set in on the third day of our climb. Here we were, mother and daughter–arm in arm–helping each other put one foot in front of the other, stopping just long enough to take care of the queasiness we felt in the pit of our stomachs–if you know what I mean!
Later that night, as we huddled together by the fire, a sweet teen came over to us and said, “I love watching you two together. You seem like you’re such good friends.” I smiled and thanked her for the compliment but was too weak to really ponder the significance of what she said. As the week went on I thought more and more about her words and now, fifteen years later, I have often thought how grateful I am to be able to call my daughter, my friend. In fact, I have two daughters that I am proud to call my friends.
I have worked with youth groups for over thirty years now and have seen many moms and daughters who are friends. It’s a welcomed trend. I’m encouraged when I watch Miss America contestants say their greatest role model is their mom. Or when I teach a high school class and I ask, “Who is your hero?” and many respond, “My mom.”
When I was growing up, the worlds between mothers and daughters seemed far apart. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was just the way things were done. Mom had her clothes; I had my clothes. She had her music; I had mine. She wore her hair a certain way; I wore mine—well, nothing like hers! These things seem like little insignificant details in life, but it was more than that, it was a cultural mindset that mothers lived in their own world and daughters live in theirs. Rarely did the two mix. Don’t get me wrong, we loved, honored and respected our moms, but we didn’t know we were supposed to be their friend. No one ever told us we should be.
Soon the late sixties brought a movement that was even more detrimental to the mother-daughter relationship. Unrest concerning any authority became the norm and our college campuses had students everywhere chanting things like, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” A cultural mindset played a part in our family structure. At least in the fifties we trusted our mom, now trust was in question. After all, mom was over thirty. I wasn’t supposed to trust her, much less be her friend!
What a relief it was that, as a nation, we waded through the storms of the sixties and seventies, and what emerged was an inclination that folks over thirty, even forty, aren’t so bad after all. The generation that screamed the loudest was now the generation over the age of thirty and they realized they still wanted to be heard and valued.
Where does that leave us today? The trends concerning the evolution of the mother-daughter relationship has indeed been interesting to observe and more interesting to participate in. Now, as a member of four living generations of women, ranging from age four to seventy-five, who are all friends, I can offer this tiny bit of advice about how we reached this achievement.
It’s really not about the clothes you wear, your hairstyle or the music you listen to. It’s not about being born in the fifties or the millennium. And while cultural mindsets can influence us in both negative and positive ways, it’s not about any movement or trend. It’s what happens when people love and respect each other and appreciate what each person has to offer the relationship. It’s about realizing that each member is designed differently by God, and you’re not that person, but you value who that person is.
Choosing a friend, whether it’s your mom, someone at your school or on your sports team, has some pretty powerful consequences. Not only are your friends around when you want to buy a new pair of shoes, they are the people you confide in and seek out when you need direction and advice. If we do consider that cultural influences play a part, we must consider that we live in a time when it’s most important to trust those who know us the best and who love us the most. And that has to be our families. We’re lucky to have family that we can trust and who will support us.
I don’t know how long I’ll wear skinny jeans or gladiator sandals or if I’ll continue to fix my hair with my Chi hair straightener. But, I do know my daughters will always be my friends. I‘ll do my best to keep that trend alive.