Women and their mothers

Your inner relationship with your mother is primary. For everybody. The nature of the bond is the basis of all attachments and separations later in life and sits at the core of your emotional, psychobiological and physical connections to where you come from.

As a woman your primary and most potent bond is with a human being of the same gender. You recognise each other deeply and yet can become distant, entangled or disdaining. Close or far far apart.

A woman can feel deeply resourced if their mother is also resourced by her mother. Life flows from behind, down the generations. Both then feel safe and secure in their relative place, size, authority and sense of self.  Women who have not had that experience but have understood the larger arc of their mother’s life, who have integrated their mother’s absence or presence, and who do not feel under or overwhelmed by her, can also thrive.  In short, your inner relationship with your mother is crucial for survival, growth and the capacity to stand in your own authority, as a learner, a partner and as a professional.

The relationship between mother and daughter is a challenging one to grow up and out of, to find an appropriate distance that allows both to be free, yet connected. But it is a journey every woman can make if she would like her life to be in flow, her relationship with other women to be mutual and vital, her love for a partner and her professional authority to resource her and others. This is a large subject which this brief article only begins to explore from a systemic perspective.


Right distance

The impact of the mother on a girl and the woman she grows into cannot be underestimated. It’s the primary connection in the family relationship system, but is also a genetic and very physical bond. Your mother was born with the beginnings of you inside her, in utero. The beginnings of the egg from which you were created was already present in her, at her birth, and so you were both also held within your maternal grandmother. So you are deeply connected to the feminine, to the line of women behind you, and as a result are also connected to the emotions and dynamics emerging from the major events and life experiences that your mother and grandmother experienced.

As a result, finding the ‘right distance’ between you, your mother and her mother is crucial. If you get too close it will limit your ability to grow up to be a woman and live your own life fully as a professional, a partner, a mother. Many women are entangled with their mothers and so feel overwhelmed by her presence or absence. They may struggle in relationship with other women, often projecting their mother onto them. This can manifest when learning from a woman or when being led by a woman and can be seen in attempts to control these authority figures. This is however an outer expression of the inner battle for balance and a longing for a connection, at the right inner distance, with the source of life, their mother.

If a woman rejects their mother, they also reject the many resources that exist in her system. Finding the best balance, where the flow of life and love is restored, is a challenge for many. Distance, combined with a multi-generational perspective and compassion born from that perspective is the first step.

“I read countless tomes over the years as I tried to navigate the difficulties of being my mother’s daughter. My single best defence had always been that I was my father’s daughter. I was more my father’s daughter. I had somehow convinced myself that I was only my father’s daughter. “

Dani Shapiro from her book ‘Inheritance.’

“Our relationship with our mothers is often the key to how we relate to the rest of the world. All our subsequent relationships will be deeply influenced by this initial attachment to the person who brought us into the world. If we can find peace with our mothers, we are well on the way to finding peace within ourselves and with those around us”.

Barbara Morgan

‘We have children before we really know what we are doing!’


‘A man is his mother’s son until he finds a wife. A woman is her mothers daughter for the whole of her life.’


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