Keeping It Candid Explores Toxic Patterns Between Mothers and Daughters, How They Impact Us + Community Healing For National Women's History Month

This week Keeping It Candid delve deep into a discussion entitled ‘Womanhood: Toxic Patterns Between Mothers And Daughters, How They Impact Us, And Improving Communication And Healing' in an effort to break that cycle of miscommunication and promote reconciliation.  

We began by reviewing the 8 Toxic Patterns in Mother-Daughter Relationships that are passed down from mother to daughter, and how they influence other relationships.

Over the course of the evening, we discussed how envy, resentment and self-hatred stemming from generational trauma are plaguing our mother-daughter relationships, and how there is a dire a need to identify how these experiences have shaped how we manage our relationships.

Seeking To Expel The ‘Evil Step-Mother’ Narrative

None of us have the luxury of choosing our mothers. Many times our mothers and mother figures are tethered to us in ways we have no control over. As a child, there is no way to dictate who comes in your life, or to determine who has you best interest. Several women shared how they experienced jealousy from the women who became the wives to their fathers. That jealousy was conveyed in the form of denying them relationships with their fathers, emotional absence and, often times, verbal abuse. While there’s no way to understand the motives of women who mistreat the daughters of the men they committed to, there is a way to look at our circumstances through an objective lens.

 Challenging Resentment With Empathy

Toxicity goes back farther than one generation. It’s much easier to develop animosity toward the woman who threatens the relationship between a father and his daughter than it is to seek to understand the cause of such behavior. The same can be said about a mother that is combative. But it’s the key to releasing that weight and breaking the cycle.

Unpacking Generational Trauma

There is an unwritten “don't ask, don't tell” policy within families that is diminishing mother-daughter relationships. Transparency among mothers and daughters is the catalyst for fostering better relationships within our communities, and that begins with uncovering those family secrets and unearthing the demons our mothers are facing, and the ones they cannot. Essentially, when someone doesn't talk about the trauma they've gone through, the internalize it and repeat it. What we’re witnessing, what we’re becoming and what we’re perpetuating is the trauma our mothers have endured, that their mothers have endured, and generations of women who have been an echo of that same trauma.

While every family has it’s secrets, and each mother-daughter relationship is distinctive, with it’s own set of problems and issues, what we can take from this is that we have the opportunity to create a new lineal narrative.

Redefining What You Know To Be The Norm

Ego cannot be the defense mechanism. So many of our relationships are governed by our ego. Recognizing that people are just people, that mothers are regarded as superhuman and the expectation can be overwhelming is one of the first steps to unlearning those toxic patterns of behavior. Learning to humanize the mothering figures in our lives and regain our autonomy allows us to shift and build relationships, and communicate in a way helps us to better appreciate one another. Exercising empathy and controlling your responses to others’ actions help break the cycle, and help create the new norm for how we manage relationships.

Women Are Ever Evolving

Some would argue a girl becomes a woman when she begins her menstrual cycle, others would say it’s when she looses her virginity, when she becomes a mother. But the truth is there is no definitive entry into womanhood. All of these experiences help shape our becoming. Womanhood is a lifelong journey of unlearning and relearning. Unlearning shame, criticism, and self-hate to learn self-care, acceptance, and self-love. In doing this we learn to appreciate ourselves and become mindful of who and what we allow in our lives. Self-preservation is everything. Do away with those things and people that don’t support your growth and evolution.

The Reclamation Of Ourselves

We’ve all been challenged to live up to the white/European standard of beauty in one instance or another.  We’ve been ridiculed for our bodies, taunted about our hair, deemed unvaluable for embracing our sexuality. For some, this begins at home. But, now, it’s evident on social media, on screen and in everyday interactions that we’re creating communities that embrace the African aesthetic, our bodies, and empower us. We have to be able to find the communities of women that uplift us and encourage us. Sisterhood is essential to growth.

Many mothers don’t prepare their daughters to be looked at through the lens of the world. But, we have to find a way to love ourselves anyway. Loving yourself unconditionally is an integral part of womanhood. Nurturing that love is essential to expressing love in our relationships. There’s power in your femininity, and the power within influences the power you have over your reality. 

Emancipating Ourselves From the Struggle Love Trope

Our first definition of love is what it looks like at home. And we let those actions become our learned behavior. Some of us have been taught that women are disposable, that women are solely for male consumption, and this sets the foundation. We can easily fall into the struggle love trope, doing whatever it takes to win the love of black men. Struggle love by definition is the idea or notion we entertain, date and marry men who are not providers and protectors, that we are to “be down” for our men, wait on them while in jail, be loyal above all things, accept their under achievements, ride or die, etc.

While supporting and encouraging black men to be their best is important, we cannot compromise our dignity, self-respect or happiness in the process. We have to learn to set standards, learn to cry, learn to say: that's not good enough, I'd rather be by myself. And then, pass that sense of self-worth and self-love down to our daughters.

Love As A Revolutionary Act

 It takes time, patience and practice to arrive to this place. You have to create the space to process, forgive others and then forgive yourself. Then, learn when to move on from processing. That’s how you break the cycle and develop a new culture. A love culture.

Love is so elusive. We all express love is different ways. But if you can exercise empathy and understand that we best serve as mirrors to each other, than you can begin to make decisions rooted in love. By assuming that people make decisions based off their own logic, having some information that you don’t have, you can seek to better understand the logic that influences their actions. Healthy communication is the key. Contributing to creating a culture that celebrates women is the key. Women: You are the key. Begin by programming yourself to override the things that have happened to you and outside of you in an effort to attain peace and balance within.

Every month Keeping It Candid (KIC) explores controversial and taboo topics within our communities to create a space for group healing and restoration.

Offered Resources:

Black Men's Guide To Understanding The Black Woman And Black Woman's Guide To Understanding The Black Man

Willie Lynch Letter

As A Woman Thinketh

Sacred Woman