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The Mother-Daughter Bond Is Even Stronger Than We Thought

As National Daughters Day approaches, we look at the science behind the strongest relationships of all parent-child bonds.

We’ll be celebrating National Daughters Day on September 25. Although every day is a day to celebrate the bond between mother and daughter, National Daughters Day remembers the unconditional love to the guardian trust, our beautiful, witty, creative, and sometimes demanding daughters!

And, if a girl’s mom is at the top of their speed-dial list, science explains the reason for that. Mother-daughter relationships are the strongest of all parent-child bonds when it comes to the common ways their brains process emotion, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Foundations of empathy

While the connections between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters or fathers and sons may be built on solid foundations of love, they aren’t always as strong in the empathy department. Based on the findings, brain chemistry is responsible for that.

According to the study of 35 families, the part of the brain that regulates emotions is more similar between mothers and daughters than any other intergenerational pairing. That means mom is more likely to understand where her daughter is coming from when faced with a problem because she could imagine herself in her shoes. 

Emotionally in sync

The study also has potentially helpful implications when it comes to our understanding of mental health conditions. Researchers aimed to discover why mood disorders, such as depression, are commonly passed on from mothers to their daughters. Scientists performed MRI scans on 35 healthy families. Interestingly, they found that mothers and daughters have similar anatomy when it comes to the part of the brain that regulates emotions.

“This association was significantly greater than mother–son, father–daughter, and father–son associations,” said researchers. In other words, mothers and daughters are more likely to understand and relate to the emotions of each other than anyone else.  

This makes a mother’s mental health experience a good predictor for their daughter. And, considering there are good outcomes for preventative depression treatments, that knowledge of family history can be hugely helpful.

A shared-experience bias

Although the research base was small, other studies have explored the deep bond between moms and daughters.  One recent study found moms favor daughters and dads favor sons because of shared-experience bias.

Another study determined the connection between mothers and daughters remains tighter than another type of intergenerational family relationship throughout all the stages of life. Not surprisingly, more research has shown mothers and daughters influence each other, for better or worse, in different ways than other relationships.

Now we know mother-daughter relationships are both a matter of heart and brain, make sure to spend National Daughters Day letting your daughter or daughters know just how much they mean to you