Navigating Mother-Daughter Relationships
By Karen Ballum on November 08, 2011
Shoko's relationship with her daughter Sue in Margaret Dilloway's How to Be an American Housewife is one of the most vital parts of the book. Shoko's attempts to push Sue in various directions cause her to pull away. Sue's attempts to show interest in things that her mother does or loves causes Shoko to push her away. Sometimes mother-daughter relationships are more like a game of tug of war than a cooperative three-legged race.
You must pay particular attention to raising daughters in the Japanese tradition. With American daughters, there are more ways to get into trouble, as she will want to be American. Teach her to resist this urge if you want to avoid the shame of having a daughter who runs with the fast American crowd. p. 58
It would be tempting to say that Shoko and Sue's relationship was complicated due to the differences in raising a Japanese daughter in Japan versus a Japanese-American daughter in America. I feel like that's only part of it and that Shoko and Sue's biggest problem was that they didn't really know each other. They had their own ideas of who the other person was but it wasn't the whole picture. By the end of the book they had gotten to know each other better and liked each other the better for it. They reached a new understanding of each other.
I feel lucky that I have what I believe to be a pretty good relationship with my mother. We've certainly has some rough spots over the years (especially those late teen years) but we really get along fine. She's not my best friend and she'll probably never be my best friend. Nor do I want her to be. She's my mother. I want her to be that. Luckily so does she. We call each other regularly and now that she had a computer she has figured out how to follow my movements on Facebook. She likes being able to quietly spy on me.
Mother-daughter relationships can be tricky to navigate. Even though my mother and I really do get along well we probably know better than anyone how to push each other's buttons. We get under each other's skin and visits go much better when we have private corners we can retreat to when needed. We've figured out how to make our relationship work, most of the time, and a large part of that is recognizing each other as adult individuals in addition to our relationship to each other.
Did you see yourself in the relationship between Sue and Shoko? Have you and your mother or daughter figured out how to positively navigate your relationship?
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