The Mother-Daughter Cliches That Have Been Done To Death

5 min read
The Mother-Daughter Cliches That Have Been Done To Death

The relationships that mothers and daughters have are unique, there’s no doubting that.

But they don’t always follow a tired old Hollywood formula.

In fact, they’re often nothing at all like the stereotypes that keep getting trotted out in TV and movies. These pop culture representations of mother-daughter relationships can be extremely unhelpful. Not only in our dealings with our own kids, but the way we relate to our own mothers.

The relationships between mothers and daughters are complex. I have three daughters and each relationship is similar…but different. Because of their ages, personalities and interests.

You’re not doing it wrong if you’re not like a TV mum. The reason these tired old stereotypes seem to get trotted out all the time by popular culture to define mothers is because it’s much simpler to whack a label on something than try to understand and explore it properly.

These are the worst of the worst mummy cliches that need to go away already. (Although, to be fair, you usually find most of these stereotypes in most parenting forums…such is the appeal to conform to a nice label).

1. Martyr Mum

Because you have a uterus and managed to expel a baby from your vagina, you are therefore expected to be a martyr – selflessly giving to your children and expecting nothing in return, forever… EXCEPT for when you get to use the “I gave birth to you, you owe me!” card to manipulate and guilt your children forever and ever.

While this stereotype can sometimes apply to mothers of sons (hello, Everybody Loves Raymond and that guy from Big Bang Theory), it’s usually daughters who cop the most of it, and end up perpetuating it with their own kids.

This tired old stereotype says to the world that women are co-dependent and need others to boost their self-esteem and confidence.

mother-daughter relationships

2. The Cool Mum Who Thinks She’s Still a Teenager

Sure these women are out there, I’m sure we’ve all met one or two in our time, but they’re hardly out there in droves… but the stereotype itself is quite common.

Think Amy Poehler’s Mean Girls character who tells her daughter’s friends “I’m a cool mom” and tries to dress and act like them.

This stereotype really just serves to perpetuate the idea that women are shallow, vain, materialistic and immature. It also says that grown women don’t accomplish things and can’t have successful careers or take part in their communities in meaningful ways… they reached the peak of their lives in high school.

It also sends the message that if your mum is your friend, she can’t be a role model and is incapable of discipline because she’s got the mentality of a teenager.

mother daughter relationship

3. The Evil Step Mother

via giphy
via giphy

Here’s a little secret: most step mothers are regular women who happen to have a partner with children from a previous relationship, and they’re trying to navigate that role as best as they can… all the while battling with lots of society’s preconceived notions about who they are. The number one of those preconceptions is the “evil step mother” stereotype.

This one dates all the way back to folklore. Think of the fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella. There’s always some evil beyotch there hurting her innocent step-daughters and often the gormless husband/father will just go along with it because he’s so whipped.

5. The Mum Who’s Your Bestie

Lots of women are lucky to have good relationships with their mothers. But for many of us, the reality can be quite the opposite. The “mum is your best friend” trope makes out that adult mothers and daughters hang out all the time, chat every day over coffee, call each other on the phone, go shopping, go see movies together, all of that stuff.
s bb0c9c140f48555a3ea991c58fccdc8241045c5c | Stay at Home
Sometimes, real life gets in the way and we don’t have these relationships with our mothers. Other times, our mothers just aren’t interested in doing this stuff even if we are. And then there are those of us who really, really don’t want to have the sort of relationship with their mums where they talk about men, relationships and sex – and that’s okay too.
This stereotype can make you feel really bloody weird about your own relationship with your mother as it’s held up as the “ideal” one to have… and not everyone will have it.
Remember, no matter what your relationship is like with your mother, it’s your own unique story (even if it’s a nightmare). And that’s perfectly okay. 

What’s your relationship with your mother like?

Avatar photo
About Author

Caroline Duncan

Caroline Duncan is a freelance journalist and photographer with almost 20 years' media experience in radio, magazines and online. She is also a mother...Read More of three daughters, and when she's not writing or taking pictures, she's extremely busy operating a taxi service running them around to various activities. She can't sew and hates housework. Read Less

Ask a Question

Close sidebar