Ah, the mother-daughter relationship. It could be sunshine and rainbows à la Lorelei and Rory Gilmore, or, more realistically, a roller coaster ride à la Marion and Lady Bird. One moment you’re screaming about a misplaced sweater, the next you’re calmly deciding between blue or beige curtains for her room (that is, until your daughter disagrees with you...). It’s a beautiful thing, but it can be equally as heartbreaking, especially if you’re dealing with a toxic mother or daughter. Either way, no relationship is perfect—no, not even the Gilmore girls'. Luckily, you can easily improve your own mother-daughter relationship by making this one small (but impactful) step: set some damn boundaries.
Boundaries are the building blocks of any good relationship, so enforcing them with family is the key to maintaining a healthy distance while still being a part of each other’s lives. Therapist Irina Firstein tells us that boundaries are a way to get ahead of familiar drama by creating situations that you feel comfortable and safe in. Boundaries allow you to call the shots, so you can avoid any unwanted outbursts at the dentist or eye rolls at the dinner table. “Lay out for your mom the specific things she say or ways she acts that hurt you,” Firstein explains. This could be anything from a snide comment she made about your partner to the way she put you down while talking about your recent promotion at work. “Tell her that you won’t be around her if she’s going to speak to you like that. You can also let her know that if she chooses not to check her attitude at the door when you see her, those visits will be fewer and farther between, for your own sake.”
It could also be as simple as setting small rules to avoid potential outbursts. If you know your mother will gawk at the price of organic lemons in Whole Foods, agree to only shop together at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t stand watching your daughter spend hours scrolling through Instagram, request a no-phone policy after dinner. Instituting a fair and healthy boundary means you’ll still be able to be a part of each other’s lives, but only in settings that you both mutually accept.
Now, go call your mom and tell her you love her (but only at the agreed-upon time).