How to Accept Being a Perfectly Imperfect Mother

By Val Boyko • May 9th, 2011

Rather than celebrate an idealized perfect mother, let’s celebrate a realistic Perfectly Imperfect one instead! Here is an article with a different perspective on how mothers can help their daughters relate to them as imperfect human beings.

Linda Perlman Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer are the authors of Too Close for Comfort? Questioning the Intimacy of Today’s New Mother-Daughter Relationship. They write:

mother and daughter talkingWe have replaced the concept of an idealized perfect mother with something more realistic. We call this the Perfectly Imperfect Mother. This allows daughters to relate to their mothers as human beings. The Perfectly Imperfect Mother meets almost all of her daughter’s needs when she is a baby, and as she grows, slowly frustrates some of her daughter’s needs to give her the ability to deal with failure.

The Perfectly Imperfect Mother gives her daughter the message that she wants her daughter to be moral and responsible, to have the strength to make her own choices and appreciate her own abilities and talents. The Perfectly Imperfect Mother doesn’t see her daughter’s struggles or frustrations as proof that she isn’t a good mother. Instead, she sees these behaviors as appropriate individuation. She understands that her daughter may make very different choices in life from the ones she made and doesn’t interpret this as a rejection or as a failure of her mothering.

A Perfectly Imperfect Mother respects boundaries and demonstrates empathy toward her daughter, enabling a close relationship.

A daughter wants to chart her own life course and many of today’s mothers struggle with how to help rather than hinder them. Both yearn to stay connected. The most ideal relationship involves mothers and daughters looking after one another, while maintaining their individuality and respectful interdependence.

By respectful interdependence, we mean that both mother and daughter are highly involved in each other’s lives, yet they respect and value each other’s independence. The goal is for both mothers and daughters to have a relationship that gives them both a great source of strength and joy.

How to Accept Being a Perfectly Imperfect Mother:

•Know yourself first and forgive your imperfections.

•Support more collaboration and mutuality and less hierarchy.

•Practice active listening without make judgments.

•Allow your daughter to make her own decisions and learn to live with their consequences.

•Try not to view your daughter’s struggles or frustrations as proof that you aren’t a good enough mother.

•Give your daughter the message that you want and expect her to be a responsible person, has the strength to make her own choices, and to appreciate her own abilities and talents.

•Step back and try to maintain a positive, objective distance.

•Tell the truth.


To read the full article – click here

To get more information and proven strategies for staying connected with your children visit




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