A Mother Daughter Relationship~ Part Two


In my last post “A Mother Daughter Relationship~ From Broken to Whole” I began a series on how my Mom’s belief system impacted me. Today, I welcome my Mom, Debbie,  as she describes her dreams for our relationship and her belief system as a young mother.

By Debbie Dippel

When considering Carla and my relationship, I think it may be helpful to look back at the relationship between myself and my Mom and the impact that my upbringing had on my belief system.

I was the youngest of 6 children. My mother was widowed when she was 38 and I was 6 years old. She re-married shortly after and that marriage ended in divorce. She had a difficult life and very poor health. At a young age I felt like her caretaker. She didn’t have the energy to invest in my life. I was given free reign, never had a curfew and wasn’t questioned much about my comings and goings.  I pitied my mother and carried a sense of guilt when I left her alone. I had fears that I would become like her, especially regarding her illness.  Her fears were passed on to me, the fear of being alone and single very intensely.  There were positive interactions between us as well. I always knew I could talk with her and share my fears. She would listen. She once answered my question regarding my feelings of guilt with, “You are a child. You should be carefree.” Those words lifted my guilt and I came away relieved. This caused me to realize how much impact words can have on a child. She died 2 months after I was married. I loved my mother but her illness, emotional and physical, prevented us from having a healthy relationship. I would have liked to know her the way she was created to be as a healthy and emotionally whole person.

I had a strong desire to be married, have children and be in a happy and stable family. I had opinions on how children should be raised which I learned from my older siblings. I believed that as long as my children were raised properly, with love and discipline, everything would work out well. I wanted my daughter and me to be close, and enjoy each other’s company. I wanted her to be happy, well behaved, popular, have a good self esteem and know that she was loved.  I didn’t want her to struggle with the same fears that I did. I wanted her to be a Christian and belong to a church where she felt a sense of belonging. I wanted her to have a good relationship with her Dad and brother. I envisioned her doing well in school, graduating, having friends, learning music, getting married and having a family. The main goal I envisioned for her was that she find a good man to marry. Therefore, I worried over her appearance. I watched her weight, encouraged her to wear makeup and do her hair, and socialize as much as possible.

I saw myself as being her confidante,  role model, and encourager. I always looked down the road and thought that whatever actions I took now would affect her as an adult. I also believed that my husband and I needed to be a loving couple who modeled real love to their children. But this was not something I could do on my own.


Categories : Mother Daughter



Debbie, you had a tough childhood, you being more of a parent to your mom than she to you. I’m so sorry she was always sick and she died without the two of you having a healthy relationship.

This is absolutely fascinating. So, even though you didn’t want your daughter to have the same fears you had, you actually were afraid of her not finding a good man, just like your own mother and that was most important to you. Can I ask, in what ways you were a role model? If that’s too personal…I completely understand but I am extremely curious. I am fascinated by mother/daughter relationships as mine is so bizarre and it is rare to find anyone willing to be open and honest as you two are.

I applaud you for writing this series with your daughter. It can’t be easy.



For me, the belief that a woman can be OK single was more of an intellectual belief. When I thought about it realistically I knew a woman was just as valuable single as married. However, the fear still was rooted within me and no matter how much I reasoned, that fear was still there. I knew that my subtle ways of trying to control Carla (weight, hair, appearance, etc.) was wrong, but I felt powerless to stop.

I role modeled by keeping a very clean & tidy house, baking, entertaining, being a faithful church member, never yelling, keeping myself slim and well groomed..trying to do all the things that a good wife and mother would do. What I realize now is that all these things are not bad things of themselves, but I wish I would have been a role model by knowing who “I” was and by seeing Carla as an individual person and allowing her to be who “she” was.

Thank you for your interest and your kind comments.



Debbie, I can so relate to being the caretaker of your mother. I took on the emotions of my mother so she wouldn’t feel pain. I did this starting at the age of 3.

As a mother, I did all of the things that you listed for the same reasons, I loved my children. I wasn’t given a tool box full of tools to raise my children and neither were my parents. I wanted to do a better job than my parents did with me. I don’t know that I did much better but I definitely did different than my parents. Most of my parenting skills were learned by trial and error as I am sure my parents did.

Debbie, thanks for adding to this series of articles with your input.


Patricia, it feels good to hear someone relate to my experience. Thank you for sharing.

When you speak of parenting skills I remember that I based many of my parenting skills on what others would think of my children and myself as a parent. When dealing with a situation I would consider what a particular member of my family (whom I considered to be the perfect parent) would do in that situation and try to model what they would do. It was like I had this person looking over my shoulder and I wanted to gain their approval. I don’t know if this comes from being the youngest, but it may have played a part. One of Carla’s greatest struggles is worrying over what others think.


Hello from sunny Mexico! I can relate to being a daughter of a mother who had certain ideas about what life as a woman meant for herself and for me, her daughter. (The approval of men was very important to my mother; she taught me that if men approved, then all was well) and I can relate to being a mother who used to worry about what everyone else thought about how my kids presented themselves to the rest of the world. When we are raised to define the value of someone else, then our definition of value becomes skewed and all we know is that our value is defined by others. Then history repeats, and our children can become our purpose~ and we can even base our feeling of success or failure on how the world views them. The problem with this is that our value does not come from others, and no one can restore our value. And when we bend into the mold that others want us to fit into, we lose ourselves.
I appreciate your writing with Carla on our blog, I think that your story is very powerful, and full of hope. It gives me all kinds of ideas about new topics that I can write about too that will compliment this series you and Carla are writing!
Hugs, Darlene



As you enjoy the warmth of sunny Mexico, I view a blanket of snow from my window along with more falling snow. Quite a contrast.

Hearing in words the result of being raised to define the value of someone else sounds true and helps me understand the impact that it had on Carla. At the time, I thought my concern was only for her. But I remember often thinking, “If only Carla was happily married (MY requirement for happiness)then I would be happy”. It was as if my life didn’t matter at all as long as Carla’s was good. The phrase “living your dreams through your children” comes to mind. What a burden for her to bear! What I am learning is that I need to have a strong sense of my of own value apart from others. I need to pay attention to my own marriage and relationships. As I become more aware of the truth and take steps towards wholeness, my relationship with Carla improves as well.

Thanks for your insight, Darlene. Enjoy your day in the sun!


Hello everyone, I’m so grateful for this site and for reading this thread, especially now.

I was 6 when my mom passed, dad was on wife #4 by the time I was 14. In between wives, abuse on every level and a disconnected dad….I don’t know how I made it! But listening to you all talk about your monther daughter relationships has me thinking about…well, first of all, how much YOU ALL have to be grateful for….most of you…so far, got more than 6 years to be with your mothers. I’m no longer sad about that fact very often anymore, but hope that I can somehow be a good mom for my daughter.

I didn’t learn much about relationships….only that sex=love, and if there was a way to escape pain, any way at all….take it!

I see where I’ve blamed myself in raising my son, far too much. And I can relate to or see now that when he’s haveing a tough time and just talking to me about it….I take on his pain. I probably shouldn’t do that!!! And I try to hide it a little better now…but he’s 18 and in a minimum security prison…somehow he learned to “escape” himself and got in trouble with drugs and alcohol! So I listen….try not to cry…and explain to him how I feel or felt at times when I wanted to use and drink and came out of it. But it’s so hard. He tells me constantly NOT to blame myself, that he would have done the things he did no matter how hard I tried to stop him.

Then there’s my daughter…she’s one. I adore her. I get to spend everyday with her. I’m a nanny and she goes with. I just hope and pray, I don’t do anything to screw her up! 🙂 I know I’m older and wiser now and living a much better life then when my boy was little, but now I read all of this and KNOW I have to let her…BE HER. I think I did that with my boy. But he took his own curve in the road…now he’s coming around full circle hopefully. I too want my daughter and I to be close. I want what I never got the chance to have with my mom. She’s already spoiled rotten!!!

This parenting business is so hard. We all just do the best we can and hope are kids make it out okay…ya know?

Thanks for all of the sharing here, and for reading!



I’m curious to know if you remember your Mom. My Dad passed away when I was 6 and I don’t remember him at all, other than a few mental snapshots.

I can relate to your definition of love. I believe that we so much desire intimacy with another human, we want to be known, and sex seems to be a way of connecting at a level all on it’s own. It is easy to be deceived into thinking that is love, or that we will be loved by engaging in it.

Thank you for sharing so openly. I have found it difficult to know the line between being a loving parent who genuinely cares for my children and their pain and actually “digesting” their pain and becoming enmeshed with them. The truth is that we cannot take it from them. It is theirs to work with and grow from. I am also learning to listen without giving advice like I used to. I think if we believe in our kids and their potential to figure things out they will be empowered to do it.

You’re right, this parenting business is hard, but wonderfully rewarding. I encourage you on your journey. Your children are blessed to have a Mom who is interested in learning a better way rather than having history repeat itself.

Hugs to you, Debbie



Thanks for your response. Yes I do remember my mom. I remember her laugh, I remember taking naps with her and her tucking my cold little toes between her legs to warm them up. I remember family gatherings and I also remember the very last time I saw her. My sister was one, I was 6 and my mom was 28, I believe. My sister and I were very sick and in the hospital. I remember it being a cold/flu because of the symptoms. Anyway, I saw her roll past my door in a wheel chair…and started yelling for the nurse, telling her I wanted to see my mom. She said I couldn’t because we were all too sick. Next thing I remember was being released and sitting in a room with a bunch of my extended family, my dad, and pastor and they were all crying. I remember asking if my mommy had died and the pastor said yes. Etc…

Okay probably too much information there….I do remember my mom….is the answer you were looking for! LOL

And, I must say I need to take heed to your experience in maybe not always sharing with my son how to “fix” things….he probably does just need for me to listen sometimes, and NOT freak out! I do know he has to figure things out on his own, I just always feel like I should give him hints as how TO 🙂

Thanks again, and I’ll hug you back,


thank you for all of this sharing, it warmed my heart to overflowing!



I’m glad to hear your memories of your mom. They sound like sweet memories except for the last day. That sounded sad. Thank you for sharing them.

I know all about making “hints”. I did that a lot with Carla. I can’t get away with it anymore…she’s ON to me, which is a good thing.

I wish you the very best as you continue parenting,


Hi Terri! Thanks for taking the time to comment. We’re glad (I think I can speak for my Mom as well!) that you are enjoying this series. ~Carla


Hi Debbie,

I have found reading your posts interesting. It sounds like your mother had a very difficult life indeed. I can see why she dealt with fear. It seems like she had good reason to be afraid after the hand life dealt her. I am sure she did what she could, but I know dealing with chronic illness takes a lot of the control away from you regardless of your intentions.
It also sounds like you were a good mother. I agree that we should not force out children to look a certain away, but I think its nice that you spent that time about hair and makeup with your daughter. I never had this chance with my own mother and feel as though I missed some sort of right of passage. I was never taught to cook, clean, do makeup, hair, or any of those things. I was mostly left to figure them out alone. Although I don’t fell it should be an issue of control, I think this can be something mothers and daughters bond over.



Hi MaryAnna,

Yes, my mother did have a very difficult life and when I think of her I feel pity. I remember her focus being on trying different remedies to relieve her pain. That is not a fulfilling way to live but I understand how it could be all consuming. I think she did the best she could.

Thank you for your words of encouragement about mothering. I agree that it’s good for a parent to teach their children about the basics of life such as cooking, cleaning, personal appearance,etc. and doing these things together, sharing the experience in a positive way could be a wonderful time of bonding. (I’m sorry you were left to figure these things out on your own.) I struggled with trying to force “my” image upon her which was a form of control. It all comes down to the driving force behind our actions. If it is from a healthy standpoint, it’s great, but if it’s from an unhealthy standpoint, it causes damage.

Thank you so much for sharing.



[…] Mom had very clear visions of how she thought my life should look (she talks about these in Part Two of this series). She had specific ideas about what would make me happy. I described my Dad as being the Unengaged […]

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