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Mothers and Daughters: Compliant or Defiant?


Daughters who are superachievers may have reached this pinnacle in order to disprove a mother's negative messages, win her approval, gain her favor, or to feel loved. It seems that experts have discovered mothers put pressure on their daughters to achieve because it adds to their happiness, not just their daughters', and confirms that they have done a good job mothering.


Daughters, have you ever considered that approval is a two-way street? Your mom may want and need your approval, too.

This quick little quiz should shed some light on whether your immediate reactions to Mom are exaggerated by excessive needs to demonstrate compliance or defiance.

You have three choices with which to answer the following questions. Fill in "Always," "Sometimes," or "Never" as it best describes your reactions to the following questions:

  1. When my mother asks me to run an errand for her during the middle of my workday, I _______ do it.
  2. When my mother buys me a new sweater she thinks I might like, I _______ keep it.
  3. I would _______ opt for a college, vacation spot, or movie my mom suggests.
  4. If my mother likes someone I am dating, I ________ do.
  5. I ________ use the recipes my mother gives me.
  6. I ________ consider following in my mother's career footsteps.
  7. I ________ join professional or volunteer organizations that my mother belongs to.
  8. I _________ respect my mother's opinions.
  9. I am _________ on the same wavelength as my mom.

A majority of "Sometimes" answers with a few "Never" or "Always" answers thrown in represents the most healthy combination of answers. One could surmise that a daughter who scored similarly does not feel internally or emotionally compelled to rebuff or accept all of her mother's opinions, actions, or attitudes.

However, 10 straight "never" answers leaves no room for doubt. You, my dear, are deliberately and obstinately defiant. Ten straight "always" answers would lead one to believe you are ridiculously compliant, trying too hard to please your mother, or trying to maintain her approval at the expense of your personal opinions and choices. Either extreme—being too compliant or being too defiant—suggests…

  • A preponderance of unresolved issues with Mom.
  • A lack of full-fledged independence and no self-motivated identity.
  • An unwillingness to assume responsibility for your own actions, thereby blaming your foibles or successes completely on Mom.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mothers and Daughters © 2001 by Rosanne Rosen. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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