Running Head: UNDERSTANDING MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS IN CONVERSATION
Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation
American Military University
Professor Kelly Roach
November 16, 2014
Relationships in general can be very confusing and conflicting at times. What everyone wants from a relationship can even vary, but the relationship between that of a mother and daughter, can be the most satisfying and disappointing all in one. A mothers words can be as comforting as a warm blanket and hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s night and as damaging as falling off your bike, scraping your knee, and landing in a thorn bush. When I read the book “Your Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation” by Deborah Tannen, many of the stories and examples she gave hit very close to home for me. As I reflected back on my own relationship with my mother and my oldest daughter I started to think of all the stories in the book and how right she was when she was explaining the communication between a mother and a daughter, not to mention the miscommunication. Tannen talks a lot about the power and the impact that not only a mothers words have over a daughter but also a daughters words to her mother. I could not possibly agree with her more when she says that for most daughters, there is no one else in the world that you want to talk to more and make that daily connection with even if it is just sharing something as small as, buying a really cute shirt on sale. The connection between a mother and daughter is visceral and it does not matter whether she lives next door, in another state, or if she is even still alive. Tannen also touched on something that I personally felt was more of the connection between my oldest daughter and myself. Instead of that yearning for such intimate communication, there is also that visceral pain that some daughters seem to have and blame their mothers for, the idea that “I owe this all to my mother.” I can recall the smallest remarks sparking the most significant response or outbursts as an adolescent and now I see the same reaction in my daughter as well. Tannen hit the nail on the head when she described some interactions like, “having to watch every word, like walking on eggshells” (Tannen, 2006) She also brought up something I never really gave much thought to, the difference between the message and the meta-message. She describes it by saying that the message is something that everyone can agree on, the literal or dictionary message, but the meta-message is how the message is perceived. For example, I could tell my daughter something to the effects of, “ I am really proud of you for bringing up your grades!” How I meant that was, I am genuinely proud, but how she would take it would be more along the lines of, “What so you were never proud of me before?” Crossing an invisible boundary was something that no mother wants to do, essentially triggering the anger from a daughter, the question or statement itself not being the cause but the implication of judgment that seems to be misconstrued. Tannen also touched on the double meaning of connection and control and how the bonds have to loosen once the daughter grows up and moves out. What she meant by this is, how mothers see that they are trying to establish a connection and the daughter sees it as the mother trying to have complete control over her. Usually, that connection or idea of control tends to diminish after the daughter moves away and does not make everyday contact with her mother. One thing is for sure, the opinion of a mother counts the most, for some it is searching for a reassurance from that warm heart while for others it is a wound of disapproval. I never realized that the reason why, when I had previously hurt myself, that I would show my injury was because it was second nature almost. As children, the first person you run to is, mommy,...
References: Tannen, D. (2006). You’re Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation (p. 304). Random House Publishing Group.
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