How to Improve Your Mother-Daughter Relationship

By Tingting

Mother-Daughter Relationship
Photo credit: CameliaTWU on Best Running / CC BY-NC-ND

Dong Xin and her daughter Tingting were going out. When she saw Tingting was rolling up her pant legs before the mirror, Dong Xin asked confusedly: “Come now, why are you rolling them up?” Tingting didn’t pay attention to her mom’s question. She looked at her rolled-up pant legs and smiled with satisfaction, thinking: Hum, after rolling them up, I really look different. My legs look thin and long, and I look tall. Nice! As she enjoyed her beauty, she responded to her mom, “Dressing like this I’ll look slimming and pretty.” At Tingting’s words, Dong Xin felt that teenagers’ thoughts were strange today. She said frowning at her daughter, “Look at you. Rolling up your pant legs, you look like a hoodlum. It’s strange. Let them down.” At the moment, Tingting’s smile froze in a flash and a big question mark appeared before her eyes: Oh, my gosh! How can my mom have this thought? Don’t my contemporaries all dress this way? It’s normal. How can my mom describe me like this? She is really outdated. I wouldn’t like to listen to her. So she said, “No. I like this style. It’s in fashion.” Dong Xin saw Tingting didn’t give in, so she played her trump card, saying, “If you don’t let them down, I won’t take you to go shopping.” Tingting thought gloomily: If I don’t meet her requirement, my buying clothes will fall through. Ah, it seems the older the wiser. For the sake of my beloved clothes, I have to be aggrieved and listen to my mom. So she unwillingly let down her pant legs. As a result, Dong Xin was satisfied while Tingting wasn’t content in her heart. She thought: My mom’s so outdated. She doesn’t understand fashion nor can she keep pace with social trends closely. It seems as if she and I belong to different worlds, and we can’t simply communicate with each other.

From food, clothing and shelter to their networks of friends, it seemed that Tingting’s opinions about them were never in tune with Dong Xin’s. As long as they talked about something, they would argue and they each would insist on their own opinions, ending up parting unhappily. Therefore, even if Tingting had something on her mind, she would rather suppress it in her heart or tell others than tell Dong Xin. Although they lived under the same roof, sometimes they even wouldn’t say a word to each other in a day, so that the distance between them increased and they became the most familiar strangers. Dong Xin said Tingting didn’t understand how to do her a favor nor was she willing to be near to her. There was the saying, “The daughter is the apple of the mother’s eyes,” but Tingting fell far short. After she heard this, Tingting felt very uncomfortable and thought to herself: Don’t blame me. Regardless of what I say and what I do, they are all wrong in my mom’s eyes. Since there is no common language, then we have nothing to communicate with each other. Just like this, they complained against one another and wouldn’t put themselves aside, and thus they were always locked in this kind of stalemate.

The generation gap between them didn’t disappear but was even widening. When Tingting hit the market, she met a boy student and said hello to him. Seeing this, Dong Xin would ask her who the boy was, and warn her against calf love; when Tingting sometimes made a facial mask, Dong Xin would also say she was pursuing world trends; every time when Tingting went to shop for clothes with her mother, Dong Xin would be unsatisfied with each dress Tingting picked out, either saying the clothes were too tight, or had plunging neckline, or saying they were offbeat and didn’t fit a girl. In short, Dong Xin’s opinions were all different from Tingting’s, so Tingting felt very wronged and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she didn’t dare argue with Dong Xin, because she never spoke but Dong Xin scolded her by saying that all she knew was to seek the trends of the world all day and that she wasn’t engaged in honest work. In the aspect of life, she was a bit picky and she liked vegetarian foods and hated meat. For this, Dong Xin often kept dinning in her ears: “It’s more difficult to feed you than feed ten children. If you visit others, will you act like this? If a famine occurs, you’ll absolutely starve to death.…” At these words, Tingting felt like she had a headache. So, what Dong Xin said often went in at one ear and out at the other.

Until that day, under the guidance of God’s words, their relationship began to change silently.…

One day, Dong Xin came to Tingting and said, “Tingting, let’s have a meeting together.” Hearing this, Tingting agreed reluctantly. She thought: Well, in any case, everything is for you to decide. If I don’t listen to you, you’ll nag me again. Then, they sat together and began to read God’s words, “Parents raise their children from infancy to adulthood, nagging them and looking after them throughout. How do parents see time? Whether twenty or thirty years later, their attitude toward their children is the same as when they were born, it doesn’t change. The child has, in fact, long since grown up, he’s long since established his own way of thinking, state of mind, insight, and viewpoints—he’s long since had these things—yet the adults never realize this, they can never keep up, they always talk and interact with the child as if he’d just been born. So what issue does the child have? As soon as the parents start nagging, the child objects. He stays away from them, he avoids them, saying to himself, ‘How I wish there was no nagging, how I wish that no one nagged me, then I’d be free.’ He doesn’t know how to open up to them, or look for the chance to tell them what’s in his heart, which would allow his parents to understand him, and know what he needs, what he’s thinking in his heart, whether there is any problem with what’s in his mind, or anything erroneous about it; whether, if he carries on thinking like this, it will make him do something wrong. He suppresses these things, he doesn’t know how to have a heart-to-heart talk, with the result that the two generations reach an impasse.

Having finished reading God’s word, Dong Xin looked at Tingting and said, “Tingting, by reading God’s words, I know I’m wrong. I think it’s necessary for me to say I’m sorry. Since you believed in God, in order to let you believe in God properly, for fear that you are attracted by various evil worldly trends and keep far away from God, I, in accordance with my own will, have controlled you and obstructed you from doing this and that. I thought I was doing this for your own good, but I have never expected our relationship becomes more strained for this. Now, through God’s words, I came to realize I’m too arrogant. I regard what I believe is right as the standard and control you in my position as a parent all the time. I always treat you as a child and want you to live in line with my thoughts. When you don’t listen to me, I’m angry with you and still complain about your not understanding things. In hindsight, there’s such great estrangement between us and I should bear much of the blame. In fact, just as what God says, you’ve grown up. You have your own way of thinking and your free space. I shouldn’t always impose my thoughts on you. I ought to talk with you more and understand your ideas. When we understand each other and know what the other think of, can’t we know each other? Then there won’t be such great estrangement between us.”

At Dong Xin’s words, Tingting was lost in thought: Things have progressed to this point today. It wasn’t all my mother’s fault and I was also wrong. If I was supposed to see every matter I encountered from the perspective of the truth, always acted in accordance with God’s words in everything, learned to chat with my mother, and said what was in my heart so that we understood each other, then there wouldn’t happen these things.


Tingting bowed her head and right saw a passage of God’s words, “When some young people are talking, they keep rolling their eyes, they hold everyone in contempt, and everything they say is filled with a note of disdain. If you have a word with them but it’s not to their liking, they will just ignore you. It is rather hard to be a parent nowadays and very hard to get to know the mentality of young people. If they say one wrong word, their child will throw a tantrum and storm off, and it is very difficult for them to communicate with adults. This is to say that there are problems with the thinking of many young people today. Is this situation not created by evil trends and this evil society? The things of people’s normal humanity are becoming fewer and fewer. … Then there is ‘they can’t tell a four from a six.’ This is a dialect expression. Have you heard it before? (Yes.) Explain to Me the literal meaning of these words. (It means that they cannot discern between good or bad. Whatever they think is good is always good. Whatever they think is bad is always bad. No matter how you explain something to them, they don’t listen.) (It means that they are unable to know what is good for them, they have no discernment, they have no understanding about anything and are all mixed up.) This is roughly the literal meaning, that is, not being able to know what is good for them, not knowing what is positive or what is negative and not being able to tell good from bad. Because they are young, brash and arrogant, they don’t listen to anything anyone says. ‘Anything anyone else says is wrong, what I say is right. Don’t anyone try to say anything to me, I won’t take anything in. I know I’m right. Even if I am wrong, I’ll still stick to my guns. Though I know perfectly well that I’m wrong, I’ll still persist with my opinions.’ They have this kind of disposition, of not being able to tell a four from a six. From the outside it is hard to tell whether the child is being clever or stupid; they can put forward ordered arguments. When arguing something, they know better than anyone and they understand more than anyone else, so how come they always do things in such a befuddled way? Though they know perfectly well that a certain way of doing something is right, they don’t listen, they do as they wish and do things however they want—they are willful and muddled.

After reading God’s words, Tingting felt shamed and humiliated. She thought: All along, although I’m a child believing in God, many of my thoughts and actions were no different from that of nonbelievers. Just as God said, “They are young, brash and arrogant, and they can’t tell a four from a six.” Every time my mother pointed out my mistakes, I either retorted or opposed her with silence; each time she did something that wasn’t to my liking, though I didn’t throw a tantrum, I pulled a long face and gave a dirty look to her. In fact, I obviously didn’t change my views on pursuing, paying much attention to following the trends of the world, but instead I put all the blame on my mother. I think it was my mother who was autocratic and her thoughts were outdated and she always tried to control me. So I was unwilling to communicate with her and opened up to her. As a result, we became the most familiar strangers. In fact, although my mother always tried to control me, that was because she was afraid my heart was attracted by the world, for the evil world is full of sensual pleasures, and we young people will face too many and too great temptations. If we stop paying attention for a moment, we will be seized by Satan. Then she recalled: Each time I went shopping with my classmates, they would talk about how to eat, drink, and have fun and which two classmates fell in love. Every time after I listened to what they said, I would descend into negativity and didn’t thirst for God’s words as before. Didn’t my mother control me because she feared that I kept far away from God and that I was seized by Satan? But I was often muddled and misunderstood her intention. I was really unable to know what was good for me.

After Tingting understood this, she began to apologize to Dong Xin, “Mom, this is not your fault. I should say I’m sorry. I myself follow the trends of the world, even saying you’re outdated. I oughtn’t to put all the blame on you.”

At her words, Dong Xin gently said, “Tingting, I’m wrong, too. I shouldn’t always try to control you. Your growing in life has a process and I shouldn’t ask too much of you. I haven’t considered your feelings, nor have I expected that I brought you such hurt.”

Tingting said, a little embarrassed, “Mom, in the past I didn’t understand your heart and regarded your concern as controlling me. What’s more, I always blamed you for nagging me, ignored you and didn’t know how to get on with you. Now thinking this over, before, I really couldn’t tell a four from a six and didn’t know you doing this was good for me. Mom, I see this passage of God’s word is very good and shows us the path of how to get along. Let’s read it together.”

Dong Xin responded happily, “Okay! Read it.”

Tingting carefully read, “You must endeavor to take the initiative in changing. Put yourself aside, don’t pit yourself against them, don’t contradict them. Don’t always say to yourself, ‘I’m their child, I can do whatever I want.’ When you act from this perspective, such an attitude is inherently wrong. You must put this attitude aside, it must be changed. When you interact with your parents like you would with an ordinary brother or sister, their attitude toward you will most certainly change. … If parents don’t act high and mighty, and the children can open up to them, and treat them as intimates, could there still be the estrangement between them?” “Tell them this: ‘It’s actually very simple. You don’t always think of yourselves as my parents, and I won’t think of myself as your child. The relationship between us will be that of ordinary brothers and sisters. If something’s up with you, tell me. Don’t suppress it or hide it. I won’t laugh at you. If you see something wrong with me, you can point it out to me. Tell me what you understand, so that I can put it into practice and not walk the wrong path.’ What’s it called when two people confer in this way? It’s called speaking heart-to-heart. And what is the purpose of speaking heart-to-heart? Is it to maintain a proper relationship between parents and children? Let Me tell you, narrowly speaking, the purpose of speaking heart-to-heart is for there to be normal human communication, having an exchange of minds. That’s narrowly speaking. Broadly speaking, it is for people to understand each other’s state, learn from each other, support each other, and help one another—that’s the effect. And thus, isn’t the relationship by which people interact with each other normal? … In short, the most proper relationship between children and parents is for them to understand each other, support each other, help each other, and make up for each other’s shortcomings. If you can practice this and achieve this, the conflicts between you and your parents will surely be resolved, and there will be no longer any problems.

Having finished reading God’s word and pondering for a moment, Tingting said, “Mom, through God’s word, I know why I couldn’t communicate with you before. I always thought since you’re my mom, I could do what I wanted. When what you said wasn’t to my liking, I would be unreasonable before you without the slightest consideration for your feelings. Sometimes I would rather tell what’s in my heart to my brothers and sisters than tell you, and always pitted myself against you, with the result that we reached an impasse. I think about when my brothers and sisters communicated to me, sometimes though their communication didn’t accord with my will, I still could accept it from God and learn a lesson. Nonetheless, with regard to you, I thought your thoughts were too outdated and you were too nagging. Even if what you communicated was right, I wouldn’t like to accept it, and I’m really that kind of a child who sticks to his guns in God’s words. Mom, through this passage of God’s word, I have found the path to practice. Afterward, I just treat you as an ordinary sister. When we have different viewpoints, I’ll no longer suppress my viewpoint in my heart. I’ll have a heart-to-heart talk with you to have an exchange of our thoughts. As a result, we two will understand each other.”

When Dong Xin heard what Tingting said, she felt very gratified. With nodding, she said, “I’ll no longer control you later on consciously. Afterward, when my opinion is different from yours, let’s seek the truth, communicate about the truth and act according to God’s words. In our family, we should let Christ and God’s words reign and shouldn’t stick to ourselves.”

Hereafter, when encountering the matters, they both practiced implementing God’s word. When Dong Xin wanted to make demands on Tingting in accordance with her own will, she would consciously come before God to pray, put herself aside and no longer acted high and mighty in her position of a mother. On the contrary, she would place her in Tingting’s place and try to understand what she thought, and gradually, she wouldn’t control Tingting with intention; when Dong Xin discussed something with her, Tingting would learn to regard her mom as a sister and respect her opinion instead of being unreasonable as before. When she had a different viewpoint, she would open up and speak heart-to-heart to let her mom know her genuine thoughts, in order that they understood each other.

Later, Tingting went shopping with her mother. When choosing the clothes, Tingting no longer held to her viewpoints as before but learned to listen to her mom’s opinion and allowed her mom to give her some advice. Once, an assistant said to Dong Xin, “Present-day young people are of character and assertive. Your daughter is already this big. When she goes shopping with you, she still can listen to your advice. It’s not easy and your daughter is really obedient.” At these words, Tingting and her mom looked at each other and smiled, and they both clearly knew it was God’s words that changed them. They tasted the sweetness in practicing in accordance with God’s word and experienced a happiness they had never felt before in their hearts.

Gradually, their relationship has changed obviously. They dispute less and speak hear-to-heart more; they worry less and smile more; besides, their hearts are closer. Through the true experience, Tingting has tasted that only by practicing according to God’s word can she truly be the apple of her mom’s eyes. She has even more experienced the feelings between her and her mom should be based on practicing God’s words. This kind of affection between them, though without the fragrance of carnations, was simple and genuine like fruits, bringing them the tang of happiness.

You may be interested in this article: How to Stop Being a Controlling Mother

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