Are Mommy and me meant to be...BFF?

May 11, 2012

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A recent New York magazine article sparked an interesting conversation about the often complicated relationship between mothers and their daughters. The piece, titled, “My Mom Is My BFF,” profiled a mother and daughter so close that mom stays in touch with her daughter’s exes. Their story, experts say, is not unique—but it left many wondering: Should mothers and daughters be best buds?

I consider my mother a dear, albeit deeply disturbed, friend. She didn’t appeal to me—friend wise—until I was through those awkward tween years. But she was very quick—too quick, really—to say, “I’m not your friend, I’m your mother.

Harsh? Sure. Cruel? I’m still working through that. But after reading the New York magazine article, I wondered whether our relationship had become friendlier, me being a grown-a$# woman and all.  So I thought I’d begin a dialog with my mother that mirrored one I might have with a friend—inappropriate and via text.

I think we can all agree that this experiment backfired—touché Mommy Dearest, touché.

My mother, after all, is a Baby Boomer. And she was certainly more lenient, warm and friendly than her own mother. Boomers, social psychologist Dr. Susan Newman says, rejected their parents domineering, authoritative style and vowed to give their children space—they weren’t going to be so strict and cold; they were much more permissive.

“After that,” Newman told me, “we got into what I call, ‘everyone wanting to raise star children.”

Meet the Momager. More broadly referred to as helicopter parents—young, new parents who aim to control and design every aspect of their child’s life: She’ll play the violin, and speak Mandarin between tennis matches and pageants and her androgynous name will throw off future employers—and agents of course.

Despite its current popularity in our culture—and on reality television—Newman does think this trend will ebb; and that like most relationships, the mother-daughter connection evolves throughout its lifetime. And that it’s healthy and rewarding for parents to become their child’s friend—once they are independent, mature adults. So perhaps I’ve got some room to grow on that last bit.

But enough about me—what do you think? As we prepare to celebrate mothers this weekend, Afternoon Shift explores our evolving roles and relationships we have with mothers—mother and daughter, mother and son, mother and husband, all of it!

MJ Tam, lead blogger for thechicagomoms.com, and Dr. Newman join Steve Edwards for this conversation—join them! Call 312-923-9239 or find us on Twitter at #AfternoonShift.

Oh, and Mom—pick up some singles at the bank: you can never have too many friends. Happy Mother’s Day to all the cool moms out there!