Jennifer: What is it about the mother/daughter relationship that it has produced more books, articles and all types of media than almost every other type of relationship?
Susan: The mother/daughter bond is one that is endlessly intriguing, readily identifiable and one that so many of us struggle with. Whether you are a mother or a daughter or both, the challenges are constant and uniquely female.
Jennifer: There is so much talk in the news lately of gen Y delaying becoming adults. As far as the girls go, do you think this is mostly due to their mothers being too close and doing everything for them that they never had the chance to grow up?
Susan: The delayed adolescence that has become so prevalent in the 21st century is due to several factors – how we hover over our daughters from the time they are born for…forever, which is a new way of thinking that creates more dependent daughters. At the same time, our daughters grow up more quickly, have sex, drink, smoke, and lie to their mothers about their whereabouts at an earlier age. Then the girls seem sort of stuck; real life and all the responsibility it requires, the state of the world and the way the girls have been coddled, all converges so that adulthood is put off into the future. Women marry at an older age today and delay having babies. In this way, they can remain dependent and immature. Often times between graduating college and earning a Masters or PhD, a person will work and then return to school. Thus, the graduate degree is delayed and this also prolongs adolescent dependencies and puts off adult responsibilities.
Jennifer: When I was growing up, it seemed that the only girls that were spoiled materially were those from well-to-do families. Now it seems that even middle class girls must have the newest designer bag or shoes and their moms are buying them for their daughters when they would never spend it on themselves. How did we get to this point?
Susan: Capitalism and materialism are at an all time high. Celebrity culture, the internet, the intensity of advertisements, all influence daughters of every socio economic strata. These girls want to be rewarded with the designer items and indulged materially (even if their mothers hold down two jobs to sate their daughters). We’re at this point because daughters have tremendous sway with their mothers, and the mothers are frequently meek and do not put their foot down. Or if the mother resisted the first five times that her 12 year old had to have the designer bag, she eventually caves in. The mother thinks," I don't agree that this is the right possession for my daughter, but she'll be ostracized if I don't give it to her. Besides, life is rough; this will assuage the misery of being in a 'mean girls' ninth grade class."
Jennifer: Looking into the future, when today's teenage girls get married and have their own teenage daughters, how do you see their relationships?
Susan: I believe that there will be a backlash to the future. I believe that our daughters will say to themselves, my mother was too lenient and I was too spoiled and it hasn't helped me a bit. In fact, I would have done better with more rules and that's how I'll raise my daughter, with the rules I never had. So there will not be many indulgences for the millennial daughters, since they know what it's like and want to have better boundaries with their own daughters.
Jennifer: I love all of the advice you give in your book. If you could pick just one piece of advice to give to mothers of teenage girls, over all others, what would it be?
Susan: For a teenage girl in particular (since this book is for mothers of daughters ages 3 to over 30), I would emphasize the part of the study where I write about the importance of self esteem and self confidence. Mother's need to recognize their daughters for who they are, with her own strengths and weaknesses, rather than pushing them to be part of the herd. A mother, who strikes a balance with her daughter in terms of protecting her and fostering independence, is doing her a great service. This begins early in our daughters' lives, but during the teen years, it is particularly applicable.
For more on Susan's book You're Grounded Forever...But First Let's So Shopping: The Challenges Mothers Face With Their Daughters and Ten Timely Solutions, see my review in 3 New Books for Moms of Teenage Girls.
Self-Esteem in Girls and Women - More Info and Resources
Unique Advice Book For Moms of Teenage Daughters
Book Helps Moms and Tween Daughters Bond Over Beauty
Moms and Daughters Share 'Think' by Lisa Bloom
How to Bring Out the Best in Your Teens and Add Peace to Your Home
Resources for Parents of Teenage Boys