mother-daughter relationship

Renfrew Perspectives Winter 2022 Article – The Unexpected Gift of My Freudian Slip

The Unexpected Gift of My Freudian Slip

By Judith Rusky Rabinor Ph.D.

Elegantly dressed in a long black wool coat with a lush fur collar, Ella swept into my office that windy November morning, “I’ve come to a decision,” she said. “I’m leaving Al when Jeremy goes to college next September. I’m getting divorced.”

You can read the full article here.

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Lilith Magazine Book Review by Ilana Kramer

Much gratitude to Lilith Magazine and especially to Ilana Kramer, who so astutely  reviewed The Girl in the Red Boots: Making Peace with My Mother. Ilana’s review highlights one of the most important themes of the book: the devastating impact of misattunement. So often I hear people speak about relationship ruptures and failures which occur not due to monstrous behaviors, but to the subtle trauma of misattunement.

What is misattunement? Simply speaking, misattunement is being out of sync with another person’s needs, feelings and thoughts. Misattunement occurs between parents and children, partners, siblings and even between friends.

Attunement is considered a critical component of bonding, especially important to parent-child bonding during infancy and early childhood. Even as adults, our need for attunement is a crucial part of feeling connected to one another. Attunement is the subtle process of letting another person feel that you are aware their needs and feelings by responding in a timely, appropriate manner.

Many people confuse attunement with attachment. Both are important: attachment makes a child feel safe, while  attunement makes a child feel valued. Attachment is more about holding, protection and taking care of another on a physical level. Attunement is mostly non‐verbal: that special look of love, tone of voice: how you speak  (not just what you say). Genuine attunement is about being feeling seen and known by another.

You can read Ilana’s full review here.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter: The Legacies We Carry

Recently I stumbled across the film  Nocturnal Animals. A horrifying psychological drama about how the values we inherit shape our lives. When the film ended, I was left thinking about my own life. I kept replaying a short, provocative conversation between a perfectly made up and impeccably coiffed mother, played by Laura Linney and her idealistic daughter.

Over a martini lunch at an upscale restaurant, Linney warns Amy Adams, her newly engaged daughter not to marry the man she loves.

“He is just a writer, not very talented and will undoubtedly come to nothing much,” mother warns daughter. “In a few short years you will tire of him and break his heart.”

Amy Adams is enraged. “I’m not you, mom,” she tells her mother. “I am me and I want something different for my life—I don’t want the life you’ve created.”

“All women,” says Linney, turning to her daughter, “turn into their mothers.”

The daughter protests, insisting she shares none of her mother’s shallow, materialistic values.

Dryly, Linney warns her, “Just you wait.”

As the film unfolds the mother turns out to be correct: within a few short years, Amy Adams abandons her writer-husband in search of a more up-scale life and creates unimaginable chaos in both their lives,

As I thought about this compelling film, I was drawn back to examining my own relationship with my mother.  As a young woman growing up, I expected my life to unfold totally different from hers, yet, now she is gone and I realize just how much of my mother’s essence I have absorbed.

What about you?

Do you ever notice — or fear you are turning into your mother even though you may have been determined to carve out your own identity?

If so, the key here is to recognize that our primary caregivers create a strong influence on us, and if your mom was your primary caregiver, there may be some parts of her you mimic, like it or not.  But the good news is, with self-reflection you open the possibility of change.

Take a moment and think about the parts of your mother you emulate and would like to embrace. Now think about the parts or her you would like to avoid replicating.  Remember to be compassionate to yourself—and your mother, who may have bequeathed you her strengths, her frailties and some of each.

Here are some statements that can help you in your self-assessment. I hope some of these lines bring a smile to your face:

  • When I least expect it, I hear my mother’s tone of voice come out of my mouth when I talk to my children, my husband, my friends.
  • I realize I handle money — frugally or over-spend — like my mother.
  • I realize I send my children helpful e-mails just like my mother loved to send me newspaper clippings.
  • I recognize I dress like my mother.
  • I recognize that like my mother, I can’t help but give opinions even when I know I am annoying family or friends.
  • Your attitude about others’ table manners resembles your mother’s views
  • You complain about your partner the way your mother complained about her partner.
  • Your attitudes about food, weight and exercise resemble your mom’s attitudes

Don’t panic if you realize you have picked up more than you realize from your mom.  You may want to congratulate her for the strengths you inherited.  And if you are panicked by some of what you have learned: the first step in changing anything is recognizing what is—and making a commitment to change. If this article prompted any important reflections for you— write me!

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Making Peace with Your Mother, Rewriting Your Story: Workshop

Making Peace with Your Mother, Rewriting Your Story: Workshop

Last Friday I gave another presentation for The Renfrew Center Foundation on Zoom: Making Peace with You r Mother, Rewriting Your Story to 100 people on Zoom call. In talking about the mother-daughter relationship, I am amazed how many women still yearn to connect to their mothers. This does not surprise me. My latest book, The Girl with the Red Boots: Making Peace with My Mother (2021) was about my journey. Often, I am asked why I wrote this book.

The answer:

After my mother passed away in 2011, my own descent into grief surprised me. I was awed to realize how much I loved my flawed, imperfect mother, deeply and dearly. In fielding questions from participants in my workshop last week, I was struck with how often my own journey was replicated my workshop attendees. What’s important to stress here, is that making peace is not the same as forgiving: making peace is to reach a level acceptance. As Paula Caplan reminds us in Don’t Blame Mother, “We are taught to believe that pent up anger is a danger; the real danger is pent up love.”

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