Exploring adult daughter relationships with their mothers: a study of relational well-being
McAlister, Philippa Anne
MetadataShow full item record
This qualitative study explored the relationship between adult daughters and their mothers, and particularly how this relationship influenced the daughters’ well-being. A framework of relational well-being was adopted, and the constructs of flourishing and languishing were used to structure the factors that contribute to the well-being of adult daughters. A literature study informed the problem statement. The available body of literature seems rather clinically focused and much has been written on the languishing aspects in the mother–daughter relationships, as well as on tension, ambivalence and chronic conflict and its effects on the adult daughter (Birditt, et al., 2009; Pickering, et al., 2015). However, while research on the positive aspects of relationships is undoubtedly important particularly within the field of positive psychology, no relationship can be fully understood by focusing only on the positive or only on the negative elements. Whereas many studies focus either on the conflicting aspects of this relationship (e.g. Fingerman, 2000, Pickering et al. 2015) or on the positive aspects, a major strength of this study is that it offers a broader perspective on the relationship as a whole. This study gave equal credence to flourishing and languishing aspects and the effect they each had on the well-being of the adult daughter. As such, the theoretical views on both aspects and the factors that contribute to either flourishing or languishing within the relationship were explored, discussed and reported. The concepts of mother–daughter attachment, relational well-being and culture and attachment, as well as the construct of flourishing were researched and their relationship to mother–daughter relationships was explicated. The literature overview then led to the formulation of the research question: What factors of relational well-being or the absence thereof (flourishing or languishing) emerge when exploring women’s experiences of the mother–daughter relationship and from their responses to the Adult Daughter Mother Relationship Questionnaire? (ADMRQ, Cwikel,2016). The research aims that followed from this research question was to qualitatively identify factors in the mother–daughter relationship that promote flourishing in adult daughters; qualitatively identify factors in the mother–daughter relationship that lead to languishing in adult daughters; and to measure, score and give feedback to participants about their responses to the ADMRQ and to use the scores to identify women possibly flourishing or languishing in the mother–daughter dyad. The study was conducted using a pluralistic approach with an exploratory qualitative descriptive design seeming most suitable for this study as the personal narrative and the shared lived experiences of the participants were a key source of data. Qualitative, in-depth interviews were conducted to gather data. The ADMRQ was administered to explore the phenomenon of the mother–daughter relationship and its complexities, while not seeking to resolve the tensions, but to constructively explore the flourishing and languishing aspects of the mother–daughter relationship. The questionnaires were qualitatively evaluated as an additional resource, but they were not statistically analysed. The results of the thematic content analysis of the transcribed interviews and the participants’ responses to the ADMRQ confirm the fact that this relationship cannot be fully understood by only focusing on either the positive or the negative aspects. Specifically, it would seem that the languishing aspects of the relationship have led to reflection, meaning-making and then the reframing of their experiences. It is especially this mechanism that has been of most benefit to adult daughters and that contributed most to the improvement of their well-being as adults. This finding means that positive psychology should not merely involve the study of positive aspects, but also the study of how negative aspects can be reframed to make a positive contribution. The study concludes with an outline of the conclusions and findings of the research, together with the limitations of the study. On this basis, several recommendations are proposed for future research and for the practical application of the findings.
- Health Sciences