BOOK CLUB: Mother-Daughter Relationships

on May 01, 2009 @ 09:27 am

Although this storyline was not developed tremendously in the book, I think it brought up an interesting point. Kate and Kelly were both so strongly affected by their mothers actions in several ways that it actually led to their character flaws. For example, Kelly was terribly self conscious and desperately sought approval (which is arguably a large part of the reason she was drawn to Tim -- he seemed to approve of her, and gave her the attention she craved).

I really liked the part in the book where Kitty meets Kate for dinner and tells her that she's had an epiphany -- that the way she has treated her daughters over the years seems to have caused a lot of problems for them. This scene seemed a tad bit unrealistic to me, but I enjoyed that it gave the characters some depth, and showed a little bit about how they got to be the people they are.

My question is, what effect do you think our mothers have on our personalities and our lives? It may seem like an obvious question, but people are all influenced by their parents, siblings and even extended families in vastly different ways.

7 Replies

huge influence! on May 01, 2009 @ 10:22 am

I think that a mother's effect on her daughters (and sons too, but that's a separate question) is profound, even if your mother is not someone you wish to emulate or even like very much.

She teaches us how we should allow men to treat us (if she's a doormat, we'll be doormats; if she's domineering, we'll be the same), what femininity means (the good and the bad), how to parent (those of you without kids probably say "when I'm a mom, I'll never say/do that!"... but those of us with kids realize you will. You will.), etc.

It takes a strong personality and a healthy self esteem to break away from a mother's example and break the mold. Even then, I wonder if we are at life long risk of lapsing into mom's habits.

They say a father's influence is so critical for a young woman's self worth. I'd say the same is true of a mother's, though from a different angle.

For myself, I see many facets of both parents and my paternal grandmother evident in my personality (though I truly wished to be more like my maternal g-parents also). I don't know how much influence my siblings have, because I'm best friends with them and we have so much in common anyway. As the oldest, it's never been my place to live up to their example or learn from their mistakes until they were old enough that it was finally relevant. I can imagine, though, that my youngest sister would have a different opinion.

agreed.... on May 02, 2009 @ 08:10 am

mamaluv wrote:

I think that a mother's effect on her daughters (and sons too, but
that's a separate question) is profound, even if your mother is not
someone you wish to emulate or even like very much.

I have to agree with both mamaluv and curlysue....HUGE influence.
I fall into the category of not liking my mother very much...I would
probably put myself into the category of not liking her at all for a
very long time. It was only recently that we were 'forced' to
communicate due to my grandmother's dementia. Since then (and when I
say recently, I mean 2 months), we have been talking and I have come to
realize that I was mistaken about a lot of things that i thought about
her. So wrong, that I apologized to her....and amazingly she
accepted. I think that was probably the biggest lesson I learned from
her....that you can still love someone even though they seem to hate
you. She was wise enough to know that I would 'come into my own' so to
speak...and she didn't push the issue, left the lines of communication
open, and was patient. I ate my humble pie....and I am a better person
for it!

My grandmother, in her younger years was always a sort of 'pioneer' in
that era ....she always had a knack for design, and was an incredible
and accomplished baker. She excelled in fine arts as well. She worked
for a telephone company and adjusted to technology despite her age.
Although she is now blind, she used a computer until she was 80 years
old! She's not afraid to stand up for herself and still manages to
complete her daily activities-despite her limitations and with very
little assistance! When I start to get upset or depressed about
situations in my life, I can always call her, and she makes me feel so
much better! I feel like I get a lot of my 'strength' from her.

I have discovered how much the women in my life mean to me....and I try
to make that very clear in the phone calls, cards, and emails that I
send to them. I made sure I got my mother's day cards/gifts out in the
mail and ordered already but I have made it a point to just call for
'whatever'. It gives me the warm fuzzies...and has chan

oops on May 02, 2009 @ 08:11 am

the end of my last post was .... 'changed my life and perspective in a positive way'


good question! on May 02, 2009 @ 10:39 am

I think mothers have a huge impact during the developmental stage (girls more so than boys). You need to be strong headed like Kelly to be your own self without being told what to do by your mom. Also, it seems that Kelly is more of a mom figure to Kate than Kitty ever was.. Kate wants to have what Kelly has which I think it shows a healthy bond between a sister-sister relationship.

All about my mother on May 02, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

For sure mothers are influential. I also have many friends who were brought up by their grandmothers, and that relationship is also quite important. The women we grow up with (or without, in some cases) help shape our personalities and our outlook on life. I am quite close to my mother, and am like her in many ways, but we are so different in other ways that it is frustrating when she doesn't understand where i am coming from. I think she forgets I have half my genes from another person! I have found that our relationship has changed since growing up and moving away. She has become more critical, perhaps because she is far and has no insight or say in my life.

I can understand both girls' need for attention from the opposite sex as a result of not getting any from their mother, and for always wanting approval. Obviously as the golden child Kate expected to live up to life's expectations, and when her sister races ahead and gets everything that was assumed to happen for her, it upsets her. And for kelly, never quite getting her mother's approval and love despite turning into a successful, beautiful wife and mother is heart renching.

What I don't understand is how neither of them turned out to be their mother. Wouldn't you think that would have a greater effect earlier on (ie total rebellion)? And where is dad?

i didn't like how the authors made such a big deal about their mother being such a cold fish, and then pretty much left her out entirely, and then conveniently brought her in the nick of time, and as a surprised mother reading self help after the fact. Change like that doesn't happen in a few months, in fact it rarely happens. Greater insight would have been appreciated in the form of a fully developed character. The book seemed more interested in the relationship between sisters, and that's fine, but I would have mentioned mom and left her out of it entirely.

It sounds like Kitty was unprepared to be a parent. Sometimes bad parenting begets bad parenting. if so then did kelly want children to correct this, to be the ideal stay at home mom to make up for her mother's shortcomings? Kate sounds a lot like her mother, and appears to have a better relationship with her - does she want kids just to better her sister, or does she truly want to be a mother as well?

Many of us base what we want in life by watching our parents - some don't want to marry because their parents had a nasty divorce, others want a large family because they grew up lonely as an only child. And some experienced parents who were not interested in them, and have doubts about their own abilities as parents.

Do you think Kate will make an okay parent?

yes moms are influential on May 03, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

my mother totally influenced me. she's always been very involved in our
lives, and i talk to her mostly every day. probably because of her, i
often act like a mother to my friends and siblings. most friends i have
end up calling me "thanks mom" lol. despite that, i dont want kids.
also, when im doing something i know my mother wouldnt approve, i'm
always thinking hmm what would mum think? i still do it anyways lol.

i think kate will turn out ok as a parent. she seems to love being an
aunt. she has her mom's example of what not to do, and her sister's
example of a so far good mom, so she will probably fall in the middle,
given her kind of selfish character, but i doubt her kids will really
have anything to complain about. and those kids will have their dad
there to balance things out.

nessie's response... on May 03, 2009 @ 05:24 pm

good point nessie....where IS dad?

while i consider myself fairly open-minded and progressive, i couldn't imagine having a child without my husband. maybe it's because i have a lot of friends that are single moms and i see how hard they have to work to keep things together. that doesn't mean that i would settle for the 'wrong' person of course.

I think Kate would be an okay parent....but I think that the story would (obviously) have to be a hell of a lot longer in order for the authors to tie up all the loose ends of her life.

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