Should Your Mom Be Your Best Friend?

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Have you ever wondered if your mom should be your best friend? Most therapists and relationship coaches would caution you against having your mother as your best friend. Being best friends with your mom can negatively impact living your life as an independent adult.

Wondering If Your Mom Should Be Your Best Friend?

The mother/daughter bestie message is so predominant that it feels almost evil to think otherwise! In the United States, women have a whole subculture around the idea that mothers and daughters should be best friends.

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Is It Normal To Have Your Mom As Your Best Friend?

We have entertainment, jewelry, home décor, and clothing, all shouting the amazing wonder of the mother-daughter bestie dynamic!

The truth is, despite the immense popularity of The Gilmore Girls, your mom should not be your best friend, ever.

Single mom, married mom, empty nest mom, teenage mom, it doesn’t matter… moms are moms. Your mother should not be your best friend!

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Main Ideas In This Post:

  • You should not be best friends with your mother
  • If you are best friends with your mom you might struggle with:
    • Making decisions on your own
    • Establishing your unique adult identity
    • Repeating the unhealthy dynamic with your own daughter

Why Being Best Friends With Your Mom Is A Bad Idea

I have a love/hate relationship with the Gilmore Girls. You know, the crazy popular TV show about a single mother and her daughter living a cozy life as best friends? The story is engaging, the dialogue is superb, but at times, the relationship dynamics are top notch dysfunctional.

Thankfully, if you watch the show long enough, you begin to see the problems that Lorelai and Rory encounter as a result of their emotionally fused relationship.

Mothers And Daughters Should Have A Balanced Friendship

Not all mother-daughter relationships are dysfunctional. Having a close, but respectful relationship with your mom is a wonderful thing. Each relationship is unique, having its own agreements and rhythms. But, if you feel that you are being effected by a controlling mother, this article will help you. It is important to understand the potential negative impact of a mother on her daughter.

As a trained therapist, I believe that every mother wants the best life for her daughter. But all families have patterns, cycles and beliefs that can be limiting to a developing adult. And if you are an adult woman who grew up as your mom’s bestie, you might have some emotional adjustments to make.

If you feel concerned about the long term impact of having a your mom as your bestie, that’s okay! You are allowed to have different ideas and develop your own beliefs. Developing as your own, separate person is crucial for all adults.

Establishing Your Identity Can Be Difficult When Your Mom Is Your Best Friend

It will be difficult to establish your own identify if your mom is your best friend. There is a term in family therapy called “fusion”. Fusion is when we set aside our own individual choices to maintain harmony in the relationship or family system. If your mom is your best friend, there is a high likelihood that you are “fused” with her.

You might find yourself making choices that keep the peace in your mother-daughter bestie friendship. As a daughter, it can be common to feel like you don’t really experience your own emotions. At times, you find that you are functioning like a mirror, reflecting your mother’s feelings or opinions in an effort to stay connected. Emotional fusion keeps two people stuck like Velcro, intertwined and interdependent.

Mothers and Daughters Can Be Emotionally Fused

When two people are fused, the relationship does not grow or move toward independence. This is particularly dangerous if you are the daughter in this dynamic. You are less likely to become an independent adult and will find yourself living an “echo” of your mothers’ ideas.

There must be room in every relationship for differences. If your mom is your best friend, you might worry that if you have a different opinion, your mom will be disappointed. It can feel like a lot of pressure to conform to her opinions, dismissing your own unique ideas and thoughts.

A Best Friend Accepts You As Your True Self

As an adult woman, a friendship with your mom should not be any different than a friendship with your peers. You should be able to have your own opinions and feel confident that you will be supported as you express your own ideas. At their foundation, friendships are the places we go to for authentic connection, knowing that we are accepted for our true self.

Try This Journaling Exercise To Help You Separate From Your Mom

One of the most impactful things anyone can do to gain clarity is to take time to journal. Journaling is a great gateway to your deepest thoughts and emotions. Writing something down helps us tame our thoughts that are scary or confusing. This is particularly helpful when we are working to define our identity and separate from our mother.

In her helpful book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” (2009) Dr. Karyl McBride discusses the need for all daughters to determine their own desires and preferences.

She offers a list of topics and asks the reader to record her beliefs in a journal. Although the book is written specifically for women recovering from a narcissistic mother, this exercise is useful for all adult daughters who are straining to find themselves apart from their mother.

Try journaling as a way to discover your own ideas and beliefs.
Discovering Your Adult Identity Helps You Separate From Mom

Grab a journal and pen, find a quiet place to reflect and authentically answer the following prompts. There is no right or wrong answer. Your thoughts and beliefs are completely valid, even if they are different from your mother’s opinions.

Be on the lookout for answering in a way that would make others happy, you are not writing for an audience, you are writing to define your life and your values.

Suggested Topics For Journaling:

  • Education: Your beliefs and ideas about education for yourself and your family.
  • Political: What are your political beliefs?
  • Religion: Do you have spiritual beliefs or behaviors?
  • Romantic Relationships: What are the most important things to you?
  • Men: Describe your ideal man, what are his characteristics and personality like?
  • Exercise: what is your favorite kind of workout?
  • Food: do you like to cook? If so, what do you like to prepare?
  • Shopping: What is your favorite place to shop?
  • Conversation: your favorite kind of conversation: about what and with whom?

· Inspired by “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” McBride, 2009.

Discovering your identity takes time and intentional effort. It is common to have those closest to us tell us who we are and what we like. Many adult women will accept those messages, agreeing to a limiting set of beliefs about themselves. Challenging your own thoughts and responses is an effective and powerful way to move your closer to your true self.

If Your Mom Is Your Best Friend, You Might Struggle To Make Decisions

Do you feel like you can’t make decisions on your own? Sometimes when adult daughters are best friends with their mom, decision-making can feel frightening. If you are very close to your mom, you might find yourself constantly asking her for input on your decisions. It can be as simple as what toppings to choose on a pizza to something as important as the size of your family!

Women are socially conditioned to seek out input from other women. ( And let’s not forget, we are conditioned to seek answers from the patriarchy as well!) For generations, motherly advice was the best way to learn how to remove a stain from laundry, cook a pot roast or soothe a teething baby.

Women in communities shared vital and useful information, creating a shared knowledge base as well as a safety net of wisdom for the younger females. With the onset of the internet, we have replaced the need for a locally based community of wise women. For many adult daughters, Google has been a reliable substitute for moms for advice on most basic topics.

Being Best Friends With Your Mom Might Stop You From Emotionally Maturing

As you work on finding your core identity and beliefs, be careful to avoid falling into the trap of “outsourcing” your decisions. Outsourcing looks like calling or texting one person or a regular group of people to get their opinion on what you should choose in a situation.

This is a common behavior of women who have grown up in families that are mired in each other’s lives. The idea of “submitting” the details of decisions to other people is a way to avoid developing your own thoughts. It keeps your ability to analyze circumstances underdeveloped and is likely to prevent you from creating healthy boundaries around your privacy as grown adult.

If Your Mother Is Your Best Friend, It Will Impact Your Daughter

In the therapy world we have a saying: we repeat until we repair.

Families have behavior cycles that create rules that dictate the behavior of the group. For centuries we relied on the tribe to keep us safe. We are wired to be in relationship with others, for our emotional health and for our physical safety. This deeply buried instinct has served women well, offering friendship and education within the community.

Despite our modern lives, we still carry the deep desire to be part of a community. Families are our first friends, and it is in that dynamic that we learn how to behave to be accepted. Generational patterns are established and re-enacted without much thought. This can be helpful (for example you don’t marry your cousin) or destructive ( we keep our problems in the family).

Your Daughter Should Not Be An Emotional Crutch

If a girl has been born into a family that places a high value on “mother daughter bestie” behavior, she will unknowingly accept and repeat the cycle. When this adult daughter has her own daughter, it is very likely that she will unconsciously absorb her daughter as her “best friend” as well.

Family dynamics are rich with unconscious motives and unspoken trauma. It is common for a mother to pull her daughter into a “bestie” relationship as a response to dissatisfaction in her marriage. If mom has married a man that is unable or unwilling to meet her emotional and social needs within their marriage, she will look elsewhere to satisfy her missing pieces. This unhealthy dynamic can happen with mothers replacing their spouses with their sons as well.

Being Besties With Your Daughter Does Not Fix Your Marriage Issues

This unbalanced relationship puts inappropriate pressure on the daughter and can be the foundation for the daughter to disrespect her father. Each of us longs to have someone to vent to, and unfortunately, some mothers rely on their daughters to carry the secrets of the unhappy marriage. The term used in therapy is “spousafication”- using your child as a type of emotional spouse to satisfy marital dysfunction.

This can set up a generational dynamic that results in daughters choosing and marrying men that perpetuate the cycle of martial dissatisfaction. We often “marry our parents” based on an “invisible radar” that causes us to move toward people similar to our parental figures. This can be seen in families that have a pattern of women marrying men that struggle with addiction or are emotionally unavailable.

Remember: We repeat what we don’t repair.

Your daughter should not be expected to be your best friend. Becoming aware of the unhealthy family cycles and patterns helps you give your daughter the freedom to develop her own identity. It is your job as a mother to recognize the dysfunctional generational patterns, choosing different behaviors and creating new beliefs about family relationships.


Should your mother be your best friend? The simple answer is no, your mother shouldn’t be your best friend. There should be clear roles and distinctions in a family structure, with parents at the top of the relationship/authority pyramid, and children under their parents. When a daughter is elevated to the role of best friend, it has the potential to unbalance the spousal structure.

After reading this post, you might be realizing that you are caught in a dysfunctional mother/daughter “bestie” dynamic. Take some time to carefully and clearly identify the “fusion” that is happening between you and your mother.

Do The Inner Work To Separate From Your Mother

Using the journaling prompts found above, begin a truthful exploration of your identity. Be aware that you may struggle to know your own preferences and beliefs due to the emotional fusion between yourself and your mother.

After careful thought, approach your mother and share your desire to shift the relationship with her. She might be angry, offended or confused. She could feel abandoned by your need to “individuate” from her.

Stay committed to your desire to change the relationship, you have the right to be a separate person. Consider getting help with a therapist or qualified coach if you feel you need more support as you begin to develop your own identify.

Change Is Difficult, But You Can Create A Healthy Mother-Daughter Relationship

It is possible to create a new friendship with your mom, based on your adult identify and beliefs. If you need help figuring out how to make the change, email me! Let’s talk about how coaching with me will help you create the change you need to set healthy boundaries with your mom.

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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.

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