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The Good Daughter Syndrome
with Katherine Fabrizio, M.A., L.P.C.

Mother’s Day: Do You Feel Pressure To Be Fake?

Can you relate?

Standing in the card aisle looking for a Mother’s Day card, you freeze.

Nothing seems to fit how you feel. All of the cards you see describe a mother/daughter relationship you don’t recognize.

Sappy. Sugary sweet. Over the top.

“ARGGG,  Why do I have to go through this every year, you say to yourself? Does everyone but me have a mom who makes them feel supported and accepted no matter what?”

Unconditional support?  Total acceptance for who you are with no judgment? Yeah, right, not my mom, not in this lifetime.”

The irony isn’t lost on you, your mother does little to nothing to support you, and now you are expected to shower her with appreciation and love?

Or maybe you feel this way-

You love your mother, and overall you appreciate she did the best she could.

But, the truth is, you still struggle with major aspects of your relationship with her.

Most visits and conversations have an uncomfortable edge to them.

Although you wish it weren’t the case, you come away from visits with mom feeling worse about yourself.  

Tension and unspoken resentments fill the space between you.

What’s more, she may not know how hard you work to make encounters with her appear to go smoothly.

Do you-

  • Let barbs/judgmental statements go by without calling mom out? 
  • Politely answer intrusive questions even though they cross boundaries?
  • Endure backhanded compliments that sting but don’t push back?   

If so, chances are you are trapped in the role of the “good daughter”, the one who feels responsible for all of mom’s feelings.  Mother’s day just puts this ” good daughter” dynamic on steroids.

You feel like you have to come through no matter what- no matter what it costs you. 

You adhere to the familial golden rule, “Whatever you do, don’t upset mom on Mother’s day! ”

Yet, despite these tensions, you hold out hope that one day you will be able to have a real conversation with mom that might heal some old wounds.

You see in your mind’s eye… mom opening your card. The card is one of those “over the top” cards full of sentiment you wish you felt but don’t.

She clutches it to her chest in gratitude. Your heart sinks as you realize this display pulls you even further away from any honest conversation that might actually clear some things up.

The pressure to be fake on Mother’s Day hurts both mothers and daughters.

Ironically, this pressure paints you both into a corner that precludes any real conversation that might bring you closer to a real connection.

As it is…you are in the card aisle caught between two impossible choices.

  1. Do nothing and you might as well take out a billboard saying “I hate my mother” or “I am a horrible daughter.”

      2. Get that fakey card and you feel slightly nauseous. Even mom knows you all have issues and pretending you don’t is weirdly humiliating for you both.

This is how an idealization of mothers on mother’s day hurts both of you. 

This idealization of mothers on mother’s day is, in fact, dismissive of the real struggles and triumphs involved in the messy relating that is between mothers and daughters.

In yet another scenario – you’ve gone no contact and feel like a pariah on mother’s day.

You’ve made the healthiest choice for yourself and that doesn’t involve seeing mom on mother’s day. You may not stay no contact forever but, for now, a Hallmark holiday isn’t going to jeopardize your mental health.

This is a very private sometimes painful choice but perhaps the best choice for you. The toxicity is just too much.

Although the decision to go no contact is the healthiest for you at this time in your life, still have a hard time feeling okay going against the pervasive cultural norm.

Either way, this idealization of mothers paints both mothers and daughters into a corner.

You feel like you have to do SOMETHING.

It isn’t that you want to make a huge point and hurt mom, it’s just that you are tired of faking it.

Wouldn’t it be great if daughters weren’t faced with the impossible choice of honoring their mothers at the expense of honoring themselves? What if we as a culture could honor all mothering relationships in all of its complexity and authentic beauty without the phony commercial overlay that restricts us all.

To find out if you experience the good daughter Syndrome go here 

If you are dreading your upcoming visit, I have help for you. For a free survival guide to a visit with mom go here 






Mother’s Day: Do You Feel Pressure To Be Fake?

Katherine Fabrizio

Katherine Fabrizio, M.A., L.P.C. has treated adult daughters of narcissistic mothers, trapped in the role of the Good Daughter for over 30 years. Dedicated to empowering these women, she offers online help for clients and training (CE’s) for therapists at Her book, Daughters Rising: Rising Above the Shame, Guilt and Self-Doubt Mothers Pass Down to Daughters, is available on Amazon. Katherine lives in Raleigh N.C. where she raised two daughters and still speaks regularly with her mother. Do you suffer from the Good Daughter Syndrome? Find out here!

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APA Reference
Fabrizio, K. (2018). Mother’s Day: Do You Feel Pressure To Be Fake?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 May 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.