Updated: Jun 11, 2021
Part I: Mothers and Daughters: Raising an Independent, Emotionally Healthy Girl (except loving a man)
There are so many factors that shape us as mothers of girls. Most traditional European cultures value a girl for family life; she cooks, cleans, bears children, and the fathers work.
But the expectant mother has no clue what her baby girl will be like. Will the mother judge her choice a failure if her girl rejects staying home? Or should she explore the nature and differences in the little girl she was given. Is a woman better equipped to nurture? Not in all families. Yet we don't discuss the failings of mean, jealous, self-centered mothers that cannot love daughters like they can easily love a son.
One mother, let’s call her Grace, was physically abused by her violent mother and ignored by her passive father. She was a beautiful, intelligent first daughter who was not allowed to advance to study nursing. The other six were abused as well, sons and daughters, except one beloved son who advanced through college. Grace was widowed at 23 when she was seven months pregnant and had a 2-year-old girl, Jolie.
Without a husband, she lived with her abusive mother again. What kind of mother would she be? Could she love her own daughters when she never felt love and acceptance from her own mother? She smiled happily at her toddler, Jolie, who was independent and self-driven.
Grace grew to love her toddler for everything she herself was not. Grace was afraid, insecure, and took criticism to heart; she had friends but she broke up with some. She didn’t think of children’s need for fun, i.e., parks, zoo, movies, etc. What kind of mother was she? Could she teach them to love themselves for who they are? Not really. The second girl, Donna, was quiet, fearful, did not speak, and got no attention except to be nursed until 2.
Jolie was loving, intelligent, but would disobey, and Grace gave her the freedom to express herself. The mother was so proud of her drive to live, even if running down the hill would cause a fall, she does it again, so willfulness was her trait. The mother boasted about her intelligent behavior, and as she grew up she confirmed a sense of self as her mother saw her.
Never was there the love of a man after her husband (Jolie’s father) died. He died in a mining accident when Jolie was 2. When she turned 18, the mother admitted that after he died, she cried every day so her mother lied to her that he was coming home. Jolie cried daily for a father that never shows up with a happy whistle and a run up the stairs to their apartment.
Jolie eventually stopped crying and waiting; therefore men couldn’t be trusted. Lying to Jolie destroyed a part of her to love a man. She was driven to succeed, except at loving a man.
Jolie was an independent, emotionally healthy girl, except for loving a man. She never observed love between man and woman. She observed back breaking work in Brooklyn factories. She and Donna stayed home alone after school throughout childhood and teens, and on weekends she would visit a friend and take the girls with her. Activities for children were constricted to being “in front of the house” like jump rope, stoop ball.
To begin, the long journey of revelation of one’s life, therapy work must include 1) Identity of Self and Capacity for loving and trusting the other.