As soon as you get in the door there is a crash. Mother and child, long grown, fight like tinkers. Instead of being happy about spending time together, you throw accusations at each other. The star has Dr. Uta Fröhlich asked why mothers and children often find it so difficult to understand each other. She is a psychologist and coach for emotional crises and in her practice in Bad Schönborn she repeatedly experiences “broken” relationships between mother and adult child. She says: “There is no such thing as a perfect mother-child relationship.” How do you still manage to build a good relationship? Eleven tips from the expert that can help.

Meet at eye level

In the ideal scenario, mother and adult child meet at eye level. According to psychologist Uta Fröhlich, this includes both sides admitting that the previous child-adult relationship no longer exists. Daughters and sons also grow up at some point and are no longer dependent on constant support. This also eliminates the need for the mother to constantly teach and guide. At the same time, the child should not relapse into childishness as soon as he or she enters the parental home and should allow himself or herself to be served or fed from start to finish. Perhaps the roles have now even changed and the mother is increasingly dependent on the child’s help. For good communication, it is important that both sides take each other equally seriously as adults – regardless of “the fact that you are a child and a mother and that remains natural.”

Open communication

Dialogues between mother and child can often become deadlocked and quickly develop into an exchange of accusations. Psychologist Fröhlich recommends staying with yourself, addressing your own thoughts and feelings, and avoiding accusations. How am I feeling in a situation? What do I wish for? What am I missing? I-messages can help with non-violent communication.

The good will

Without the good will, nothing will happen. Both sides must be willing to engage in open communication. “Otherwise someone will shut down and it will be difficult to have a conversation,” explains Fröhlich.

Take on the role of observer

You can imagine an accusation like a ball, says Fröhlich. If it is thrown at you, it can hit and injure you. It might help to imagine this ball as a Velcro ball that can be caught with a catch disk. The trick is to slip into an observer role at the moment when you have mentally intercepted the ball (accusation) and thereby create some distance from the situation. “Instead of reacting to an accusation with an accusation, you can try to get to the bottom of the accusation,” says the psychologist. “If the accusation is that the child is not there too often, you can, for example, ask where the feeling comes from: Why do you think that I am never there? And counter it with something like: I am there now.” By asking questions and countering, a chain of accusations could possibly be broken and a conversation on equal terms could be restored.

Address expectations

Disputes often arise because one person does not live up to the expectations of the other. It therefore makes sense for both sides to bring their expectations to the table so that it can be explored which ones can actually be met and which ones should be said goodbye to.


When children visit their parents or parents visit their children, friction can arise. Especially when it comes to longer visits. One reason for this is that routines clash – from meal times to parenting styles – and necessary adjustments do not occur. “Older generations in particular find it difficult to change established processes. Even small things can lead to arguments,” says Fröhlich. A little distance and flexibility can go a long way.

Closeness and distance

Some build their own home in their parents’ garden, others move thousands of kilometers away. Everyone has to find out for themselves how much closeness and how much distance is right. Emotional closeness has nothing to do with geographical proximity or how often you see each other. It is important to find the right amount for yourself. “If I have the freedom to come and go when I want, then a relationship can thrive,” says Fröhlich.

Joint activities

Communication problems can strain relationships. But talking isn’t everything. A common basis can also be established through joint activities. By doing things together, shared experiences can be had and new memories can be created. At the same time, new material for discussions is collected. “Away from this meta-communication in which you just ponder problems, simply doing something together can be very healing,” says the psychologist. This could create a different basis through which it might be possible to start anew in communication.


Sometimes you don’t have the words, you feel misunderstood and you talk past each other. A hug every now and then can help to show that you still feel connected to the other person despite everything. Fröhlich: “These are gestures of togetherness, of closeness.”

Uta Fröhlich is a psychologist and coach who specializes in emotional crises and interpersonal relationships


Often enough, problems are discussed and disappointments are chewed over in conversations between mother and child. According to Fröhlich, one way to get out of the spiral of accusations and accusations is to reflect on what you value about the other person – and to share this. It can also be helpful to take a moment to reflect in a difficult situation and, for example, remember that you are grateful to have parents.


It is possible for things to happen in a family that one party cannot forgive. Nobody is obliged to maintain a relationship with their parents. But if you want that despite everything, you have to be willing to forgive and take small steps towards each other again. After all, the mother-child relationship only happens once in a lifetime.”

Searching for help

A problematic relationship between mother and child can be extremely stressful. Sometimes mother and child are unable to build a relationship on their own in which sensible communication is possible. Fröhlich advocates getting help in such situations. “Couples and marriage counseling are common. I would like family counseling to be the same,” says Fröhlich.