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Mom Competes with Own Daughter

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Why would a mother sleep with her daughter's boyfriend?

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Of "moms behaving badly," Beth Modica just might take the cake. The 44-year-old former PTA president and mother of four was a model citizen. She was a former assistant district attorney for Rockland County and Queens, New York. She's married to the Spring Valley chief of police. But she also slept with two teenage boys--one of whom was her own daughter's boyfriend.

Modica was indicted today on charges of third-degree rape and four counts of third-degree criminal sexual assault. She also has a total of 30 misdemeanor charges against her: Four counts of third-degree sexual abuse and 26 counts of endangering the welfare of a child. She'll spend two years behind bars. The judge also imposed 10 years' probation, sex offender registration and 10-year orders of protection for the two boys she had sex with.

During the trial, Modica wept as her 16-year-old daughter, Danielle, told the judge she and her mother had competed for the same 15-year-old boy. Danielle testified that she banged on the bathroom door at the family home one day last year as her mother and her boyfriend engaged in oral sex. "I was betrayed by both of them," Danielle Modica said.

Some have speculated that Beth felt fiercely competitive with her daughter, which led her to sleep with her boyfriend. "I will be eternally remorseful," Beth Modica said in the trial.

While Linda Hogan, 49, didn't go after her daughter's boyfriend, she did begin dating a 19-year-old mutual acquaintance in the midst of her divorce trial to Hulk Hogan, which upset her 20-year-old daughter, Brooke.

Another Florida mother, whose name was withheld to protect her daughter's identity, held her child down and pierced her genitals to "make sex uncomfortable for her" and tried to shave her head to "make her unattractive to boys" after the mother discovered the girl had sex with the mother's boyfriend.

What the heck is going on here?

"These are very extreme cases of mother-daughter rivalry, however it's somewhat common for mothers to experience jealousy toward their children," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in New York City. "These moms are saying, 'I'm just as pretty and desirable as you. We're on the same level--and I might even be better.'"

How does this happen? "Mothers can become competitive with their daughters if they were denied affection or affirmation by their own mothers, and as a result, they seek validation through their children," says Greer. "They see their daughters as a 'better' version of them and view their kid's accomplishments as a personal loss for them--not a gain for their offspring."

What's more, if the husband dotes on his daughter, it can fuel the mother's drive to feel important. Even worse, if the daughter is an only child, the competition may be fiercer because the mother can blur--and sometimes void--the parent-child lines altogether. And if the child has no parental authority, she in turn will start to view herself as her mother's equal and continue the cycle.

That said, we're all human and it's only natural to feel occasional pangs of jealousy toward a sibling, friend, co-worker, and yes, even a daughter. What's important, says Dr. Greer, is how those feelings of envy are channeled. Instead of internalizing the child's fortune as a personal attack, Greer says moms should view their kid's success in a vacuum--it's about the daughter and nobody else. Mothers should feel proud of the role they played in their children's lives and share in their success, not steal it. Then focus on personal goals and taking steps to boost their self-esteem through counseling.

Have you ever had mother-daughter competition?


next: Divorce 101: Telling the Kids
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