A new study has found that interpersonal communication is the key to daughters’ well-being.
When faced with adversity, humans make meaning of their experiences through storytelling. Scholars also have found that women, in particular, express their emotions through ‘narrative sense-making’ and relate to and support each other by telling stories in everyday contexts. This is especially true when it comes to mothers and daughters.
The University of Missouri study has found that daughters ‘re-author’ stories about adversity over time, often increasing the positivity of those stories through narrative. Scientists believe these changes in storytelling can improve mother and daughter interpersonal relationships and well-being.
The goal of the research was to understand how communication can change the way daughters make sense of their experiences, said Haley Horstman, adding “When dealing with difficult situations from death to problems in school, how a daughter communicates with her mother will impact her overall well-being. We wanted to learn how aspects of interpersonal communication such as perspective-taking, coherence and taking turns impact how we make sense of adversity.”
“The takeaway of this study is that our narratives matter,” said Horstman, noting that interpersonal communication has the power to change the way we make sense of our lives. If mothers can foster warmth and affection in their conversations, and if daughters listen to their mother’s perspective, the conversations can help daughters work through negative emotions associated with stress.
The study appears in Communication Monographs .