Our Mothers, Ourselves: Mother-Daughter Relationships

How Mother-Daughter Bonds Develop

Rose Marie Fries, age 75, raised four daughters and one son, but says she's close to her daughters "in a way I don't think you can be with a son. With the girls I have four best friends that I can talk to about all the emotional things that women consider important that men don't like to talk about." Fries' daughters, now in their thirties and forties, concur. In fact, says 36-year-old Laura, a television critic for Variety, she and her mother built their bond during a time when most young women are rebelling.

In Laura's senior year in high school, her father died, leaving her mother and her in the house alone. "That year probably cemented our relationship more than anything else, just the two of us in this horribly depressing situation. We helped each other through what was a terrible year," Laura recalls. "My sisters, I think, are always shocked because I will ask mom just about anything. I remember when I was a teenager I asked her if she was a virgin when she got married. And she answered, 'Oh my heavens yes, but she didn't seem phased or bothered by the question. My sisters couldn't believe it. 'You asked her that!?'"

It took longer for Dallas native Martha Frase-Blunt to find a similar closeness with her mother, Ann Frase. Now an independent businesswoman in northern Virginia and the mother of two young daughters herself, Martha remembers herself as a rebel — a description her mother does not disagree with.

Ann Frase laughs in recognition. "In high school, when she would come downstairs to breakfast before school, I'd just look at her and say 'No, you're not wearing that. Change your clothes.' We argued and we went through a lot of stress, but she and I are very much alike, I realize now."

Both women believe that Martha's decision to attend her mother's alma mater, Randolph-Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, started a process of evolving closeness that continues to this day. "She went to my college — her choice, not my choice. That thrilled me to death but I wasn't about to tell her that! I didn't want to turn her off," says Ann. "I got kind of a subliminal feeling that maybe she had some respect for me and maybe she wanted to be a little more like me, and that's a big compliment for a mom."