Mother (And Daughter) Knows Best


Blogging mother-daughter duo Ellen Resnick and Jenna Gebel hope to help others explore their own relationships with their mothers and daughters.

“Fostering love and understanding among mothers and daughters.”
That’s the tagline of the blog My Mother, My Daughter, My Friend, created by mother-daughter duo Ellen Resnick and Jenna Gebel about three years ago after they realized that there weren’t too many resources about that relationship.
And with Mother’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to reflect on your own relationship as Gebel and Resnick have.
Though theirs might be a less intrusive model to follow than that of, say, Kate Siegel and her mom Kim Friedman, a relationship that spawned a popular Instagram account Crazy Jewish Mom and a book Mother, Can You Not? that came out in April. (You can guess what their relationship is like.)
“We went on a yoga retreat for my 25th and her 55th birthday,” recalled Gebel, who is pursuing an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania. “It was a really good bonding experience. We had a lot of long talks and worked through a lot of things we were both thinking. That was a turning point in our relationship and, a few months after that, I was home for a weekend, and we were talking about how there are few resources for mother and adult-daughter relationships.”
While there are myriad resources available for younger relationships, such as mommy-and-baby blogs, there are few for that more grown stage, she added.
“Once your daughter is out of college and you’re both adults, the conversation kind of ends,” Gebel noticed. “And there are still so many changes and things happening in the relationship.”
Those changes are natural, added Resnick, an employee communication consultant for her own company in New Jersey.
The relationship shifts to more of a friendship while still recognizing the mother-daughter bond — hence the name of the blog.
“It is all about friendships when you’re adults,” Resnick said. “It changes from more of a hierarchical relationship or one of control or guidance to now we’re both adults and we’re peers and while we’ll always be mother and daughter, we’re more characterized as friends.”
Think a Lorelai-Rory Gilmore relationship from Gilmore Girls. (Not so much Emily.)
The blog features posts from Gebel and Resnick, each discussing mother-daughter topics from their own perspectives, as well as guest posts and — Gebel’s favorite — profiles of other mothers and daughters.
“Pretty early on, we knew we didn’t want it to just be about us,” Gebel said. “We find so much of the time, mothers and daughters don’t take the time to tell each other why they love each other and what’s special about their relationship.”
Mothers and daughters can fill out a survey on the blog with questions about what you admire about your mother or daughter and what makes the relationship special. Often, Gebel said, the pairs don’t want to see each other’s responses until they are posted on the blog.
They have been working on building up the community aspect of the blog.
In addition to the mother and daughter profiles, they have hosted events bringing the duos together.
Most recently, they hosted a program at Wharton at Penn — where Resnick attended as well, leading the way for her daughter — and more than 90 people showed up. They hope to host more events in the future.
“I just love being able to see my peers with their moms and learn about their relationships and their cultures,” Gebel said.
For her and Resnick, Gebel said their relationship has definitely changed since starting the blog. They have become more open with each other, she said.
Their posts range from topics such as technology to “moody moments,” which Gebel said was a well-received one because everyone can relate to it.
“When we talk about our challenges or our fights, I think those are most meaningful because as much as we promote positive strong bonds between mothers and daughters,” she said. “We never want to sugarcoat it or pretend it’s so easy.”
They have also worked in the Jewish practice of mussar through exploring inner characteristics and traits each month on the blog, from patience to humility.
Writing and responding to one another has certainly changed their relationship for Resnick, who noticed a change after Gebel was in high school — one that many mothers can probably relate to.
“We had a really good relationship when she was a child and then high school years, we became distant, which I think is natural,” she said. “High schoolers become a little testy and want to be a little more independent. We had to work hard in her college years to rebuild our relationship, and it took a lot of effort on both our part and desire to improve our relationship.”
Through writing, she said they have found a way to openly communicate, even though they live hours apart.
“What I’ve enjoyed is certainly the benefits that have come out of it in terms of really understanding each other,” she said. “Writing about issues has helped us tremendously in our own relationship because sometimes it’s easier to write things than say things — at least for us.
“It really forces us to reflect on our issues and think carefully. We’re not only communicating through our followers but to each other through our blog.”
They have written articles on The Huffington Post sharing other insights they have learned about their relationship through their blog.
The main advice Resnick offers for mothers and daughters is to both be willing to communicate.
“It all comes down to communication and a desire to strengthen the bond, you have to have both,” she said.
Living a few hours apart — and soon a plane ride apart as Gebel prepares to move to Atlanta next month — has taught them the importance of making the time to talk.
They Skype on Fridays to light the Shabbat candles together and make the time to meet face-to-face since they aren’t “phone chatterers,” Resnick said.
Putting in that time and making an effort has already shown its benefits for the two.
“We’ve become much more open and honest with each other,” Resnick said. “We feel more free to express our feelings and emotions, even if we know they may not be received well. We’ve become better at listening to each other rather than reacting quickly.”
They encourage other mothers and daughters to participate in a profile on the blog because they might be surprised by the results.
“We love reading the profiles from other mothers and daughters,” Resnick said. “We feel like it’s been a great experience for our followers to answer those questions and read the other’s answer. They’re really heartwarming.”
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