Adult daughters' perception of the mother-daughter relationship: a cross-cultural comparison



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Texas Tech University


This study compares the perception of adult daughters' relationship with their mothers across the Anglo, Indian (Asian), and Mexican-American cultures. No other similar empirical work has been done so far. The mother-adult dyad was examined from the combined perspectives of feminist, object relations, attachment, and intergenerational theories. The variables studied include two out of the three underlying dimensions of attachment, i.e., closeness and dependency. Other variables examined were differentiation, relationship satisfaction, and trust in hierarchy. This last variable was developed for, and used in this study. It represents positive beliefs about, and an acceptance of hierarchy in intergenerational relationships. A 36 item Mother and Adult Daughter (MAD) questionnaire was developed. Its three subscales measured closeness, dependency, and trust in hierarchy, and it was used in an actual and ideal version. Reliability (alpha) ranged from 0.74 to 0.92. Ninety-one women belonging to the three ethnic groups filled out a questionnaire packet containing eight measures. Hypotheses predicted a difference in the dependent variables for the three ethnic groups. Analyses showed that the demographic variables of income and education did not confound results. Analyses included one-way and factorial ANOVAs. Content analysis was conducted on answers to open-ended questions. The resuhs partially supported the hypotheses. Variations were found to exist for ideal closeness, actual trust in hierarchy, and some differences were found for relationship satisfaction, for the three ethnic groups, with the Indian group obtaining the highest scores. Differences were also found in the categories emerging from the content analysis. Results imply that differences exist in the adult daughter-mother relationship across the three cultures, in the areas of closeness and trust in hierarchy.