Have you been looking at that other mom's Range Rover at the PTA meeting?
Dr. Michelle Golland: Maternal jealousy is a common, corrosive emotion. Jealousy denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one feels they rightfully deserve. Jealousy also refers to anguish caused by fear of losing someone or something to a rival. Envy is an urge to spoil or devalue what is good in others. Envy and jealousy are born out of the pain of emptiness and feelings of inadequacy. The urge is to regain some internal balance by denigrating the goodness of another.
Jealousy gets triggered in us when we feel competitive with someone, and we also feel like we have failed or not measured up in some way. Basically it is the idea that my cup is empty and I can't tolerate the fullness of yours, so I would like to spoil, spill, or destroy yours in some way.
Some mothers can begin to feel envious of the youthful beauty of their teenage daughters. These mothers feel they are in competition with their daughters for the attention of men. This can be a serious problem. We know it goes on, but many women are afraid to admit it because of how uncomfortable it is to own these taboo feelings.
If you are feeling envious of your daughter's beauty or accomplishments, my guess would be that you have been dealing with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy for a long time. Being a green-eyed mommy doesn't just happen because your daughter becomes a teenager -- and you feel overwhelmed by your competitive feelings.
I am certain that you experience feelings of jealousy and envy in many areas, from how you are as a mother to what kind of car you drive. You may also be one of the "mean mommies" that are envious and jealous of other mothers at the school for how they look, and you may often use relational aggression to get your point across. Your point would be that you are trying to elevate yourself or demean others because you inherently feel inadequate and suffer from low self-esteem.
Jealousy and envy are so painful to acknowledge -- and they come out in behavioral ways that you may not even realize. They sort of leak out in words and actions that the recipient of this negative experience is fully aware of. The antidote to envy and jealousy is gratitude. Gratitude moves one from the state of negative self-focus and removes the need for envy and jealousy. Gratitude for one's own experiences, including one's own age (and thus life experiences), will help control your jealousy of your own daughter. You can also be grateful for the beauty and accomplishments of your daughter, rather than experience them as "taking" something from you.
If you begin to belittle your teenage daughter's looks or accomplishments to try to elevate yourself, it is time to call a therapist and deal with the pain of envy and jealousy that you have been most likely coping with for a long time.
|Dr. Michelle Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Michelle Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two wonderfully exhausting children.|