Why Are Daughters Mean to Their Mothers? 7 Common Reasons

Relationships between mothers and daughters can often be complicated. While some mothers and daughters have these rosy relationships, some mothers often ask why their daughters are so mean to them. Even professional counselors can find themselves struggling to identify specific causes for these conflicts in the first place. While society says mothers and daughters should be close to one another, there are common reasons why this isn’t so.

Daughters aren’t mean to mothers without reason. Common reasons for this behavior include the mother being controlling, nosy, dismissive, absent, unreliable, judgmental, and narcissistic. When raised with mothers exhibiting these behaviors, it comes as no surprise why daughters eventually form a shell around them and act mean toward their mothers.

This article discusses the signs of mother-daughter conflict as well as the different reasons why daughters are mean to their mothers.

Why Are Daughters Mean to Their Mothers?

Signs of Mother-Daughter Conflict

angry mother

There are different ways to interpret when your daughter is being mean to you. If you worry that you may just be overthinking it, here are some common signs of mother-daughter conflict.

  1. She’s Dismissive

One of the most common signs that your daughter is being mean to you is when she’s often dismissive of you. This can take a variety of forms. For example, your daughter is being dismissive when she doesn’t acknowledge your presence when you’re in the room. Another example of your daughter being dismissive is when she acts coldly toward you. Have there been instances in your recent memory when your daughter has been unnecessarily dismissive of you or your presence?

How does your daughter respond when you do something nice for her? Does she thank you or does she act as if nothing happened?

Another sign you can look out for is her behavior when you enter the same room as she is. Does her behavior significantly change? Do you see her frown or roll her eyes when you enter the room? When she’s with her friends, does she lower her voice and urge her friends to move somewhere else? These are typical signs that your daughter is being dismissive and does not enjoy your presence at all.

Your daughter can also be dismissive in the sense that she does not listen to you at all. Look back and remember the last time you were able to tell your daughter to do something. How did she respond? You can take it as a sign of conflict when your daughter is being disobedient, even with the little things. 

  1. She’s Argumentative

No one said parents are right all the time, but you should notice when your daughter argues with you over every little thing. It’s okay to have different opinions about things but when it feels like she argues with everything you say, then you might be dealing with a mean daughter.

You could easily test this by thinking back about the topics you’ve recently argued about. Were those issues actually worth arguing about or were they simply trivial matters? If you find your daughter arguing about nonissues, then they’re simply being argumentative. When your daughter is being argumentative, they can become difficult to talk to just because they want to rebel against anything you say.

Common Reasons Why Daughters are Mean to Their Mothers

  1. Controlling

puppet strings

When you find it difficult to control your daughter, do you make it a point to exert your authority over her even more? If so, this could point to one of the most common reasons as to why daughters can act mean toward their mothers.

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As much as you want the best for your daughter, there are times when you have to let them make decisions for themselves. When mothers become too controlling of their daughters and make decisions on their behalf, their relationships can begin to form cracks.

One of the reasons why a daughter would rebel against a controlling mother is that when mothers make decisions for their daughters, the daughters could interpret this as their mothers not trusting them enough to make their own decisions. When mothers trust their daughters, they should let them make their own decisions that affect their lives. Even if those decisions are against your wishes, you are still their mother and should support them from your position.

Another reason why being too controlling can ruin a mother-daughter relationship is that daughters don’t feel they’re allowed to grow up. Parents make all the decisions for children when they’re young. However, a part of growing up means making decisions on their own. Without this ability, daughters can begin to resent their overbearing mothers and exhibit mean behavior.

Part of being in a healthy relationship is that people support one another. Your daughter can have decisions in her life that you may not agree with such as her career, her lifestyle, her fashion, and so on. However, you have to let her make her own decisions so that she can become her own person. Only then can you show that you trust her and love her no matter what.

  1. Nosy

Mothers typically feel like they should know everything that goes on under their roof, including what their daughter is up to. While there is a healthy amount of curiosity, mothers can be too nosy sometimes.

Daughters, especially adolescents and older daughters, need privacy. Even if she used to tell you everything when she was younger, this does not mean you should expect the same treatment now that she’s much older. Mothers who are intrusive of their daughters’ private lives can find themselves on the short end of the relationship as their daughters would act out and exhibit mean behavior.

Do you think you’re being a nosy mother? Do you feel you’re giving your daughter enough privacy? Do you allow her to lock her room? Do you check her phone when she’s not looking? Do you look around her room when you enter it? These kinds of behavior do not give your daughter the feeling of being in a safe environment. In fact, these invasions of privacy could be the very reason why she’s acting the way she is towards you.

Just like allowing her to make her decisions on her own, you also have to give her a space she could call her own. Giving your daughter privacy is also an act of trust. Letting her have her own space means that you trust her and her decisions.

  1. Not Listening

sad daughter

Do you see your daughter as a child, or do you see her as another human being? Do you treat her as a child or as an adult? One common reason why daughters can become mean towards their mothers is when mothers don’t listen to their daughters.

How can mothers listen to their daughters? When mothers treat their daughters as children, they don’t value their daughters’ opinions. They just brush it off as the ramblings of a child. However, your daughter may not be a child anymore. She’s already a growing individual and you treating her otherwise is a common cause for dissent.

It should come as no surprise that mothers who treat their daughters this way will get the same treatment. Where else would they have learned this behavior from? How does your daughter treat you mean? Do they ignore your words and do whatever they want? They’re just emulating what they’ve been experiencing. Thus, the easy solution to this problem is to treat your daughter with the respect she deserves. After all, you need to give some respect to get some respect.

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An easy way to begin to show your daughter that you listen to her and value her opinion is by taking her suggestions. A simple example to choose from is to ask her what she wants to eat. When she tells you what she wants to eat, simply go with that. It may seem like such a simple method, but it’s already a step in the right direction. It’s a quick and easy way to show her you’re not only listening, but you actually value her opinion.

From there, you could gather more momentum by asking her opinion on matters. If you’re painting the kitchen wall, ask her what color she thinks would look nice. If you’re shopping with her, ask her what she thinks would look nice on you.

  1. Absent

Daughters need their mother’s love and care. Back in the 1960s, a popular psychology experiment was conducted showing the effects of the presence of a mother on a child. Using infant monkeys, the researchers showed that infant monkeys raised without mothers developed social deficits and reclusive tendencies. This goes to show how children can get when their mothers are not around.

Would you say you were a present mother? You may have had reasons why you weren’t around your daughter when she was growing up. Even if you say you were physically around your daughter, were you mentally there with her? A mother who stays in the house all day can still be considered an absent mother if she neglected her daughter all the time.

Thus, another common reason that could possibly have led your daughter to be mean to you is if you were an absent mother. Children need a lot of emotional support growing up. Your daughter would have naturally looked to you for such support since you are her mother. However, if you failed to play the role of the mother, then your daughter would become angry and mean.

If your daughter is acting mean toward you, this might simply be her way of retaliation. She might act cold and dismissive to you simply because that’s how she felt you acted toward her in the past.

How do you begin to mend your relationship if you were an absent mother? The road may be long but it’s one that begins with a single step. It may be difficult because you won’t have many chances to show your daughter who you can be since she won’t approach you for emotional support anymore. In this case, you have to be ready the moment you think she needs emotional support. Only then can your daughter begin to see you in your maternal role.

  1. Unreliable

sad daughter alone

Aside from expecting you to be an emotional support system for her, your daughter might also act mean and cold when you’ve been unreliable to her in the past. As children, daughters have a level of expectation from their mothers. For example, when mothers bring daughters to school, daughters would expect mothers to pick them up as well. This is one of the many things that daughters come to expect from mothers.

However, if you were unreliable to your daughter in the past, you might find them cold and dismissive now since they don’t go to you for anything at all. Why would they go to you when they don’t expect anything from you? If you’ve had a track record of unreliability, then it should come as no surprise as to why your daughter grew up not respecting you as her mother.

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The first step towards mending your relationship with your daughter is to simply be there for her. If you tell her that you’re meeting her at a certain place and time, be there on time. If you tell her you’ll bring something for her, bring it. These are little things you can do so that your daughter can eventually begin to trust you. When she asks you to do something for her, do it. All these little things will help make you look reliable in her eyes.

  1. Judgmental

Did you throw your opinions and judgments about your daughter often when she was growing up? Were you careless with your words when it came to her actions, appearance, or other sources of validation? If so, your daughter might have found you too judgmental.

A judgmental mother is difficult to please. It could be that your standards for your daughter were just too high for her to achieve. Even if you meant well, a child could still look at this the wrong way. When your daughter is raised not reaching her mother’s standards, she can begin to question her own value. She can begin to think she’s not good enough for you. With that kind of mentality, your daughter can eventually stop trying and act dismissive toward you.

Being judgmental can be difficult to spot, especially if it has already been your character trait. Do you comment on your daughter’s fashion? Do you comment on your daughter’s career? Do you comment on your daughter’s relationships? Like many parents have said before, if you have nothing good to say, then you might as well not say anything at all. If your daughter has become accustomed to a highly judgmental mother, don’t be surprised if your daughter would rather avoid you at all.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to begin fixing your relationship with your daughter as all you have to do is refrain from giving unwarranted comments. In fact, an important part of your transition is to become more vocal when it comes to giving compliments. When you begin complimenting your daughter, she will eventually realize that you’re capable of words other than judgment. At this point, she might begin to start listening to you.

  1. Narcissistic

kid braiding mother hair

There are certain mothers who view their daughters as nothing else but an extension of themselves. Thus, these mothers have high expectations from their daughters, as well as put their daughters on pedestals. These self-involved mothers see their daughters as trophy children.

Do you think of your daughter as a trophy child? Do you push her to join competitions and need her to win so that you can have something to brag about to other people? If so, your narcissistic behavior is driving a wedge between you and your daughter. Your daughter will want to make you happy, but when she’s finally had it, she will begin to resent and act mean toward you.

There’s a simple reason why a trophy child would eventually resent their mother: they feel like they were only as valuable as the trophies and medals they could bring home. This is also similar to daughters with mothers who don’t listen because these narcissistic mothers don’t listen to what their daughters want.

Perhaps they did enjoy that certain sport before, but they eventually fell out of love when you made winning such a big point. Perhaps they did want to do ballet before, until they didn’t. However, they weren’t able to stop just because you wanted them to keep on going.

It can be tricky for these mothers to eventually gain the trust of their daughters as they’ve already felt like you only love them when they’re winning. In this case, it’s best to give it some time. With enough show of love and support, you can eventually rebuild that relationship with your daughter.