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Mother-daughter rivalry that turns into a competition

Many would take a mother’s unconditional love for granted. However, some women discover that family rivalry is not confined to siblings

A mother always wants the best for her children. She and her children are supposed to be best of friends. But in the recent past, cases have been reported of mothers and daughters who don’t see each other eye to eye. Mums and daughters who steal lovers from one another. Competing for the fathers’/ husbands’ love and attention.

Take for instance in UK, Sarah Hargreaves, a 20-year-old married her 61-year-old step-dad. Sarah’s mother, Ann, 45, was left an emotional wreck after discovering the two had a relationship since Sarah was 16.

Sarah invited her mother to the wedding. But while mothers dream of attending their daughter’s wedding, Ann was sitting alone in her house, mad at how the events turned up.

Incredibly, she says she does not think she could ever hate her daughter because she is her flesh and blood. “I think she must hate me though. How else could she do this to her own mother?” she posed.

No compliments

Closer home, Barbra Mueni, a young career woman, has never spoken to her mother for the last three months. She is a product of an affair her mother had with a white man.

From her infancy, Barbra was always praised for her beauty and charm. Her grandparents who had rebuked her mother for getting pregnant out of wedlock remained mum after the baby was born. They adored her. “It is just difficult to hate her. She is like an angel,” her grandfather would say.

Barbra’s mother married later on. Her step-dad adored her even more than his biological children. “Can’t you be like Barbra!” her step-dad would retort to his other children.

But Barbra would read behind the lines that her mother hated her. Whenever someone praised her, Barbra’s mother would turn gloomy. She never complimented her. “My mother is irritating. She would tell me not to wear a certain dress saying it was ‘revealing’ yet she would wear the same,” Barbra notes.

In many circumstances, when a daughter is born, there is an underlying current behind the scenes. All of a sudden, a father takes on a new role, even if she is the second child.

When a son is born, the father looks forward to his role as a guide in life, but when a daughter is born, he becomes the fierce protector. Her relationship with the mother begins with the mum becoming the caretaker, but once she sees what is happening with her father, she wants the role of daddy’s little girl.

Beatrice Njoroge, a relationship coach, says when a mother’s pride turns into envy for her daughter, the results can be life-changing.

The whys

Few mothers often find themselves wanting to relive their childhood’s through their daughters. They will advise their daughters who to date based on their personal likings. “Trying to relive her life all over again when the years are long gone brings a bad taste in the relationship and instead of having a mother-daughter relationship, it becomes a peer relationship based on competition,” she says.

Why does this happen? The relationship coach says a common explanation is that mothers do this because as they watch their daughter’s adolescence bloom, theirs is declining. Another explanation may be related to the mothers’ upbringing or even the relationship the mother has with her significant other, or lack of one. “The mother’s jealousy can be a cry for affection.

She wants someone to love her and give her the same attention she sees her daughter receiving. To achieve this, she tries to do things, which her daughter does, wear the same clothes, and even control her daughter’s whereabouts,” she says.

“A mother’s justification is that, I know what’s best for you, and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made,” she adds.

Njoroge advises daughters to stand firm and explain to their mothers how they feel and how it is affecting them. Tension may arise, but patience will ensure the issue is addressed. “Depending on the severity of the envy, the daughter may bring in a mediator or even a close family member who would not be biased,” she says.

For the mothers, make sure your daughter knows you love her. Give her time and space, but don’t be afraid to jump in when she does something that would harm her. Further, regard her as a source of inspiration rather than as a rival.

The most extreme cases of mother-daughter jealousy appear in families where there is incest. If the father is the offender and the mother becomes jealous of the father-daughter relationship, then she too becomes an offender and she cannot put the daughter first. “Instead, she sees her daughter like “the other woman, going after her husband,” she concludes.

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