Having a good mother-daughter relationship can provide understanding and fulfillment.

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Whether you have a great mother-daughter relationship or a mother-daughter relationship that can be improved, you probably know that mother-daughter bonding can start at an early age.

When you're five, she's a goddess. You smear your face with her lipstick and model her earrings and high heels, wanting to be just like mommy. That's the way it is until you're about thirteen, when she suddenly becomes the most ignorant, benighted, out-of-touch creature on the planet, and you can't get far enough away from her. Your primary form of interaction for the next five years or so will be a single word, "Mooooooooooooommmmmmm!" And then, somewhere between your twenties and your thirties, if you're lucky, she becomes your best friend again.

No relationship is quite as primal as the one between a mother and her daughter. "It's the original relationship, and it's also a relationship that has been sentimentalized but not honored," says Lee Sharkey, Ph.D., who directs the Women's Studies program at the University of Maine at Farmington, where she teaches a popular course in mother-daughter relationships. "Women grow up and our energy is largely turned toward men, but the original love relationship is with a mother. If we as daughters don't acknowledge that, we're closing ourselves off from a great source of power and fulfillment and understanding of ourselves."