Hello Mother, Hello Daughter

SEASON ONE, Episode 2: Memorable Moments & Turning Points in the Mother-Daughter relationship

October 07, 2022 Michelle Miller-Day Season 1 Episode 2
Hello Mother, Hello Daughter
SEASON ONE, Episode 2: Memorable Moments & Turning Points in the Mother-Daughter relationship
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Podcast: Hello Mother, Hello Daughter
Hosts: Drs. Allison Alford and Michelle Miller-Day
Date: 10/09/22
Title: “Memorable Moments & Turning Points”


Hosts, Drs. Michelle-Miller Day and Allison Alford discuss the adult mother-daughter relationship and what happens in these relationships over a lifespan. Today’s discussion is about Memorable Moments and Turning Points. First, Allison shares a story about her childhood and the movie Steel Magnolias (are you a M’Lynn or a Ouiser?!). Next, Michelle tells us about her childhood and the ways she first learned that events can create better closeness or distance between mothers and daughters. 


We then turn to the social scientific perspective and research to learn what Michelle has uncovered as the categories of events that occurred during Turning Points that created greater closeness or distance for those interviewed. Using the Retrospective Interviewing Technique, Michelle spoke to sons and daughters about Turning Points over their lives that brought about increased closeness or distance in the relationship with their mothers. The categories of meaning include social support, shared activities, criticism, conflict, physical and emotional distance, crisis, daughter’s transition into adulthood, filial comprehending, pregnancy & childbirth, and caregiving. 


Lastly, we hear a listener question and get tips on how any woman can process turning points and memorable moments from her past to create clarity that can enhance our relationships. 


Links:
Five Wishes activity. Access here:
https://www.fivewishes.org/for-myself/ 


Credits: 
Produced by Michelle Miller-Day
Graphic Design by Malia Niell 
Question from Laura (thanks!)
Social Media management by Ella Kodjababian
Music by Happy Summer by RomanSenykMusic


Find us on Instagram: instagram.com/hellomother_hellodaughter/
and Facebook:
facebook.com/hellomotherhellodaughter


Michelle:

Hello, mother.

Allison:

Hello,

Michelle:

daughter. Just like any relationship, the adult mother daughter relationship takes work. I'm your host, Dr. Michelle Miller Day,

Allison:

and I'm your host, Dr. Allison.

Michelle:

In this podcast, we'll discuss the experience of mothering and daughtering In adulthood, we'll explore the topics that matter most to women using both a scientific perspective and an everyday relational lens.

Allison:

Be sure to listen till the end of the podcast to hear our pro tips for both mothers and daughters. Our goal for this podcast is to help women have better relationships and better lives.

Michelle:

And of course, don't forget to like and follow us on social media.

Allison:

Hello. Hello. Welcome back to Hello Mother. Hello daughter. Uh, today we're talking about memorable moments between mothers and daughters across the lifespan. These are the big moments that stand out to us even decades later. We call them turning points. And, uh, you know, I just wanted to start by sharing a little memorable moment that just happened in my life, um, and share it with. Last night, my daughter and I finished watching Steel Magnolias. Do you know that movie? Oh my gosh, yes. Yeah. It's a movie from 1989. It has Julia Roberts and Sally Field, a classic mother, daughter pair that probably many of us have, uh, a memory of watching, but I had this full circle moment watching it with my 12 year old daughter. And it made me think back to when I watched this movie in the early nineties with my mom and we had a VHS recording of the movie, which we had recorded when it was shown on tv. Uh, because that's apparently how we did things in my household, and I, And so it, you know, it aired on TV and we had this recording and we would watch it and rewatch it. Um, You know what I like to say about my childhood that was different from other people that I've talked to is that I grew up talking about talking, and so as I watched and rewatched this movie with my mom, She would point out to me the things in the movie about the mother-daughter relationship. She pointed out to me the seasons as they occurred, She pointed out to me, you know, Well this is important because of what we saw here and this, and I found myself doing that with my, with my daughter. Um, and so today to be talking about turning points, I just thought that is exactly what we saw in that movie. But it's also what I was experiencing with my mom. It was what I was experiencing with my daughter. And you know, these so meta up. It's so meta up because these characters, they have happiness, love, sadness, death, so much more that occurs to them, and it occurs for us too.

Michelle:

Well, you know, you bring in media and all this and Steel Magnolias, at least in my generation. Absolutely. I remember that movie, Julia Roberts, that is one of her most iconic films. And we were talking before we started recording is as an adult having conversations with my friends. It's like, who are you? Melin? Are you Wheezer? You know, who are we as

Allison:

adults? I wanna be clarity. I really wanna be alar. I am trying so hard. which one are you? I'm totally Melin.

Michelle:

Oh boy. Um, I aspire to be Leisurer, but I am a total Melin.

Allison:

There's still time. Michelle, You can get there.

Michelle:

There's still time. Oh my gosh. I do theater on the side and I actually have done that show on stage and I played Melin. So I actually, I, I identify with Melin as a mom, but you know, shows like terms of endearment, even This is Us Big Little Lies. These are all media that we can turn to and look at the mother-daughter relationship and look at the turning points or those memorable moments. And you can see the shifts, the shifts that these mothers and daughters are experiencing in their relationships, These, these moments in time when intimacy either increases or decreases. Mm. Um, and I'm sure you know, listener in your relationships, moments in time that these have. Right where, where you know, you've either felt closer to your mother or more distant from her or to your daughter, or more distant

Allison:

from her. Yeah. So you're saying that across our lives we move toward and away from each other over and over again. Right.

Michelle:

Yes. And again, we're just coming from our experience and talking with hundreds at this point of, of mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters and what those experiences are and have been. And it's not always pretty, right? It's not always a positive and how I get closer to my mother, it's how I've become more distant from her. As a matter of fact, my story, one of my earliest memories actually with my mom, is a relational turning point where I became more distant from my. I think I was five years old. That is my recollection. I was around five years old, and my brother had been hospitalized for a long period of time. In those days, they actually kept people in the hospital for more than 24 hours. I, I don't even remember why he was ill, but my mom was exhausted, had been with my, my brother, and they kept the cereal in a cupboard above the stove. And somebody forgot to turn the stove off, and I crawled up on the countertop and went to go get the cereal and I put my hand on a hot stove. Oh. And burned my hand and. Obviously it was painful and it hurt and I cried, and I wanted my mom, Of course, my mom was exhausted and she yelled at me. I shouldn't have been crawling up there. Instead of the solace that I wanted, the comforting that I wanted, I got yelled at and I remember this. I still to this day remember feeling so let down that she did not comfort. That she did put some medicine. She bandaged my hand, but that she yelled at me and I was alone that night. I laid in my bed alone and that she loved my brother more than she loved me, and I felt more distant from my mom. And I felt that tangibly as a five year old. And I still remember that today.

Allison:

Your five year old little heart. I recovered. I recovered. Ok. Okay. Good

Michelle:

And we got closer and we got Kristen, and we've recalibrated along the way. You know, that's what this is. It's a recalibrate. Mmm. And we all recalibrate along the way and we've, we've talked to so many people. Um, I've talked to actually sons and daughters. I've done work with both men and women talking about these turning points in their relationships with their mothers. And we've found some similarities and differences in sons and daughters turning points with their moms. But here's some of the most memorable ones that people report.

Allison:

What you're gonna give us. Is some of the, what would we call these categories of relational turning points or a typology of relational turning points? What would you call these? Yeah, I would

Michelle:

say categories. Okay. So there's the key categories. So

Allison:

key categories of relational turning points from your research. And that research you use what we call the retrospective interviewing technique, right? And that is where you ask people to think about the past. And they sort of, so that's the retrospective part. And they kind of make like a map of the past and they, it's like a timeline. And, um, and then through those timelines you analyze that and you found these categories, uh, through analysis of multiple interviewees. All right, So tell us what those categories. You're good at

Michelle:

this. You should do this for a living, Alison. Oh, So, so, absolutely. I mean, first and foremost, far and above all of the other categories that make a difference for both sons and daughters actually is provision of social support. What do I mean by that?

Allison:

Yeah, what do you mean by social support? But if you're a researcher, use psychology, communication counseling, you're like, I'm here for it, girl. Um, but tell us what is social support? Social support.

Michelle:

Again, most of us might think of emotional support. Providing or not providing emotional support. So, So that comfort that my mom did not give me, you know, at that time when I needed it right, she did not provide that emotional support that I needed at that time when I had an injury. So for me, that was a detriment. I felt more distant from her at that time. But sometimes providing emotional support can make me feel closer to my mom. Did you wanna say something?

Allison:

Yeah. So social support. We feel supported by other people, um, through a variety of ways. Right. So, uh, some of those are emotional. You just talked about that. Um, what are the things that count as emotional support?

Michelle:

Okay, so listening, being there for me, sharing feelings, those things that are not fixing it, right? Ah, those things that are, I am being supportive. Not necessarily fixing or any of that, but I am being supportive of you, not necessarily agreeing with you. There is a difference. I'm not necessarily agreeing with you, but I am here for you. Oh boy,

Allison:

man, I, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm thinking about some things that maybe I need to work on with my social support because I'm, I like to be a fixer, Michelle. Uh, okay. So social support is listening, being there, and we can feel these things from other people through the way they talk to us, but also the way their face looks or the little Oh mm sounds that they make. Um, and the goal of the social support that somebody offers us is making the other person feel better, right? Or helping them cope or belong or increasing their self-esteem. Okay, so social support. Is huge.

Michelle:

Absolutely. And, and like you said, verbal or nonverbal. I mean, a hug goes a long way. It's not just facial expression as well. It can be touch, right, Touch, hugs, anything, use of space, just sitting next to someone when they need somebody just to be there with them. So again, emotional support. Instrumental support. Most of us know things like that. Being there and doing things, doing favors, doing errands,

Allison:

insurance payments for your car. Yes. Or paying your cell phone bills. So, so instrumental is like tasks that someone does or things that are, that are very tangible. So not like a hug, but like a car payment. Yeah.

Michelle:

And I remember when I was younger and struggling and. You know, my mom paid my rent for the month. It was very important. It was very important. And you know, that only happened once, but they did, and it really was very helpful. And that really helped me feel closer to her. So yes, so instrumental or tangible, paid informational support, providing information, facts. I'm really good with that with my kids and, you know, look things up for them and give them information so they can use it. Another category is network support. Making them feel part of a group, making them feel part of a family or part of the church or part of the group in some. Socially, a network part of something, a larger group than them. Esteem support, which is of course, making them feel of value because of their skills and unique qualities. Lots of different ways that make us feel connected to other people or. Conversely, being critical criticism is a huge one. It's a different category, but that can impact these sorts of things can feel like it's the withdrawal of support. So let's move on to criticism.

Allison:

Yeah. So social, So social support is the first category, right? Of the, uh, of the, of the things that we recognize as contributing to closeness and, uh, distance, uh, in relational turning points over the years and the decades. And, okay, so we got social support. Let's get another one of the categories, you know, and I encourage listeners to think

Michelle:

about. Okay? Hmm. So instead of just academically, these are the categor. What am I doing to support my daughter? What am I doing to support my mother in these ways? Right? Whether it's emotional support, instrumental support, esteem support. As I'm going through these, I mentioned criticism. Okay? This one is uniquely strong with daughters, is not really mentioned by sons. Okay? This is uniquely strong and mentioned. Often by daughters, and this one is almost exclusively a negative turning point. So, uh, the negative trajectory in the sense that, that criticism, feeling so closely connected to someone, even a small criticism can feel like a personal attack.

Allison:

Absolutely. You know, the, what that brings to mind is a book that I know that we both like, which is, uh, by Deborah Tann. Right, Which is, uh, called, you're wearing that, and it is a classic phrase, but you might hear between mothers and daughters. Uh, that is a, a criticism, right? It it a question. You're wearing that is, uh, not supportive because it draws into question why someone would do something. And a simple question like that can lead to shame, embarrassment, hurt, and ultimately not feeling very close to the person who asked you that

Michelle:

question. From the mother's point of view is, No, I I want you to. Present your best. I want, it's always from the place in the heart that I want you to be your best. I want you to a, not be cold, or I want you to, whatever the, the

Allison:

rationale is, it's that job interview or whatever it may be, right? And so, um, you, you make a great point, which is that sometimes things that come across in one way weren't necessarily meant. That way. Um, but the way we communicate is, um, it's tricky to get what we think in our head across to the other person so that they feel it in the way we want'em to feel it. You know, that's our classic conundrum. There is a great quote

Michelle:

from the film because I said, so Diane Keaton has this great, and I may get the quote incorrect. But she says something to the effect of, you know, when your child is small, if they're walking toward a cliff, you're supposed to save them, but they become adults and you see them walking toward a cliff, and you're supposed to just shut up and say

Allison:

nothing. Right. You're supposed to say You look nice, You look so nice. In that outfit, you selected to walk towards the cliff Exactly. Or maybe what we could say is that, um, when they're an adult, you gotta walk towards the cliff together. Right. So I know that another one of the things that, um, can create a feeling of closeness is shared activities. Yes.

Michelle:

Shared activit. Um, doing things together, walking toward that cliff together and, and veering from it together. Yeah.

Allison:

So let's navigate over here. Yes,

Michelle:

absolutely. Shared activities, finding things to do together, um, whether that's, you know, just going to the movies together or getting your nails done together. I don't wanna be gendered here. Siblings together. You

Allison:

know what I enjoy with both of my parents is, uh, plants. We like to talk about plants and planting and house plants, and they, whenever they visit, my mom usually brings me a clipping or a cutting. Um, and, and my dad's a plant guy too. They gave me a, uh, blackberry bush as my most recent birthday present. And I, and I send my dad pictures of my blackberry, uh, bush. So, you know, shared activities can also be things we do without being near to one another, right? We are not, we do not have the same plant in the same location. We are sharing the activity of garden. And, uh, house plant love from separate locations. But I feel closer to my parents when they, when we just enjoy this, this activity together. And that

Michelle:

is the, the wonder of social media. Now we can have all this distance and still have shared activities, have shared loves, have shared interactions over common interests. Uh, Conflict of course, is something that is a turning point. Another category.

Allison:

Another category.

Michelle:

Conflict. Yeah, so, so we have shared activities, we have social support, we have criticism, we have emotional and physical distance where we're talking about, again, we have emotional distance, which is feeling distance from the other person for physical distances, literally, I am physically distant from the other person, and so I'm not connecting with that, that other person. Some kind of crisis in the person's life that makes them feel more distant or could perhaps, and oftentimes crisis, personal crisis will bring individuals together as well. The daughter's transition into adulthood is often mentioned as bringing people together, especially mothers and daughters. As I transition into adulthood, I start seeing my mother. More as a person. There is this thing that happens in early adulthood where I go from a positional orientation, right? See as my mom is my mom and my daughter as my daughter, into seeing each other more as human beings called filio. Comprehending, where we transition into this personal orientation, seeing each other as a person. I remember the moment that happened for me and oh, share to get into too much detail. We searching for something in my mom's bedside drawer and ended up finding a sex toy and quickly returning it and not seeing my mother in the same way again. So it was

Allison:

uncomfortable. Yeah. But the benefit there is that you adjusted your, um, view of your mom and, uh, and your, your view as we, as we grow older and as we have these turning points related to fill, yield, comprehending, we recalibrate. Or adjust our view of this person. And really our view of of our mother or father becomes multidimensional, right? It, and it, and it, um, allows us to see more of their humanity. Now, I, I definitely experience this. Another category of turning points is pregnancy or childbirth. Um, or, you know, maybe we'll even say parenting. As you parent, as I have parented my children, I have really understood better a lot of the choices that my parents made. And I have to say, Michelle, my, at my house, we are the very strict parents. Okay? And so, uh, but I was also raised with, um, strict parents and I can see as my children tell me how they feel, uh, controlled or not allowed to do things. From my perspective, it's all about safety and protection, right? Which helps me to understand my parents, uh, and their decision making for me, and some of those things I repeat and some of those things I alter. And lastly, what's our last category of turning points?

Michelle:

I wanna, I wanna probe that just a little bit more. So, is this, in retrospect that you can see it now that it's about safety? At the time did you see that, or only in retrospect Now?

Allison:

That's a great question. No, at the time I often it's, it's definitely in retrospect, I see that it was about safety at the time. I, uh, I felt like my parents were exhibiting some old ideology that they were clinging to the ways of their, uh, so let's say if it was about clothes, all right? When I was in high school showing, you know, wearing low rise jeans. And showing your belly button and having rips in your jeans, and also having these rips that were down at the cuff. You know, we wore our doc martins and your, your jeans dragged on the ground and the bottom of your jeans was all gross and scruffy. Um, and there were, I was never allowed to show my stomach and there were lots of places where I wasn't allowed to wear. Um, certain types of, of clothing. And at the time I thought, well, this is about what clothing my parents prefer. And, uh, later as I now have discussions with my children about clothing, you know, right now for teenagers, teenage boys, very, very, very short shorts are trendy. And for, uh, these teenage preteen girls crop tops are very trend. And as I have discussions with them about where it's appropriate to wear these and where it's not, um, those often have to do with the impression that they're making, which is about protecting their reputation. And if I think, well, my child may wanna be a future politician, so I wanna protect their online image, and I wanna protect what they're wearing in images that may be reshared, I am now able to understand my parents' vision. Safety and reputation management and the ways that they were thinking and recalibrate my understanding of them. So some retrospective interview technique happening there,

Michelle:

that 2020 hindsight. But it's interesting that thinking about that can actually make you feel closer to your mom, enhancing your understanding of their decisions way back.

Allison:

It does. It absolutely does. And sometimes I just call her up and commiserate and say, Isn't it hard to stop a teenager from potentially harming their own reputation and their own future through things that are so nebulous or vague that, that I could explain it to the teenager, but they really won't get it. And so I just have to rest in my own knowledge of it. And so it does bring about closeness as absolutely, we revisit those things. And moving

Michelle:

on to the next category is caregiving. Caregiving can be an incredible turning point. Both bringing people closer and pulling them away. One of our colleagues, Carla Fisher, she does research on mother daughter communication specifically with breast cancer. And one of the clear findings with her research is that those mothers and daughters avoiding open communication about the procedures, about their treatment side effects, about distressing emotions, they end up having worse health outcomes. And worse relationships. So open communication, open mother-daughter communication enhances not only relationships, but enhances health outcomes. Yeah, there's one thing I always encourage my students to do with their mothers, When their mothers are healthy, which is go to five wishes.org. The five wishes covers five core questions that all mothers and daughters, all parents and children, to be honest. Need to talk about while they're adults and before anybody gets sick, such as what I want my loved ones to know what kind of medical treatment I want and what I don't want, so that I have a voice before. I don't have a voice anyway. Caregiving is an incredible turning point in the mother-daughter relationship. Sometimes it can bring us very, very close, not just the hardships of caregiving. But also the positive parts of caring for my, my mother, and bringing us closer together as people and as women.

Allison:

All right. Now we have a question from a listener. Let's hear it.

Michelle:

Hi, my name is Laura and I'm a 38 year old mom from Texas. And I had a question about how to bring up, um, some things that happened in the past. My mom and I have been through a lot of big things together and. It just never seemed like the right time to bring up, uh, things from the past. And I don't wanna seem like I'm digging things up. So do you have any tips or suggestions about how to approach maybe big topics from the past? Thanks

Allison:

so much. Thank you, Laura, for that great question. Yeah, in my

Michelle:

experience, sometimes we want to jump in and address some of these hurtful issues before we've even come to terms with why they are so hurtful to us in the first place. My advice for right now is do some introspection First. What are some of the issues that you want to discuss with your mother? If it was a consequential or memorable moment to you, maybe it was a turning point. Regardless, write it down. Process it yourself first. Explore that story. First, process your own understanding of the events and your feelings that surround these events. Before discussing them with your mom. Sometimes having a trigger, such as this podcast or a book that you read, or a film that you watched, such as Steel Magnolias, can provide the trigger that you need to gain entree into the conversation. That as long as you've processed the events, your. You set aside a time and a neutral place where you can discuss the issues that you've already considered and processed on your own. Then hopefully she'll be open and receptive to talking about whatever those issues are and if she's not, It doesn't mean that she will never be.

Allison:

So now it's time for Hello mother. Hello daughter. It's time for your tips. So if you've been listening today and you're thinking about your turning points in your life, we suggest you write them down. Michelle, how do we do that?

Michelle:

So what I want you to do is write down two to three turning points that you have. Document what age you were. What the turning point was. Write it out with as much detail as you possibly can. Who, what, when, where, why, How? How you contributed to it, how it made you feel, how it increased or decreased your closeness.

Allison:

And we have some different kinds of listeners, right? So one listener, a mother or daughter may be listening on their own and thinking, I'm probably not gonna reach out and do this with my mom or my daughter, or she won't be available to me. That's okay. Do this for yourself and you will be able to find some processing about the event. And you can, uh, also write down what are some ways that I can better support my mother or my daughter moving forward? And so that's gonna give you some, some goals or some ways to move into the future. Um, however, there are some mothers or daughters listening, and you can do this, uh, alongside your mother or daughter. So you do the processing on your own, then you schedule a time to talk about it on the phone or get together, have coffee. And you bring this material with you and you go over the events and you hear each other out, and you listen to, um, what those big moments were for each of you. What are the different moments and how did it feel for each of you to experience those? But again, I want you to end by thinking of, um, ways that you can go forward in supporting your mother or daughter. The reason we wanna think about the past is so we can better support each other moving forward. Our goal for you listeners is to have better relationships and better lives. So that's all we have for you today. Thanks for listening. Be sure to like and follow and share this podcast with others who can use it. Thanks for being here, Improving

Michelle:

mother Daughter communication by starting with you.

Introduction
Memorable Moments (AKA Turning Points): An Introduction
Mother-Daughter Key Turning Points
Listener Question
Advice
Hot Tips!
Outro