5 Mother-Daughter Shopping Tips

At any age, a mother-daughter shopping trip can be productive and fun -- or epically disastrous. See more parenting pictures.
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Ah, the mother-daughter shopping trip. Whether you share DNA or not, we know that any twist on this twosome can get tricky amid the gaudy lights and tempting displays of the megamall -- or any other store, for that matter. Add taste squabbles, budget battles and foot fatigue into the mix and even the tightest mother-daughter team might find themselves bickering.

But even though shopping with your mom or daughter might scream stress in some scenarios, it can also be a great bonding experience for the two of you -- and can even provide an opportunity to get to know your shopping partner as a friend as well as family.


Whether previous shopping trips have been delights or disasters, we've got five tips to improve your shopping relationship starting on the next page.


Preplan Your Trip

If you have a young kid, make sure you leave extra time in the schedule to answer (so, so many) questions about the things you encounter.
If you have a young kid, make sure you leave extra time in the schedule to answer (so, so many) questions about the things you encounter.

It may seem simple, but plenty of heady conflicts arise from logistical issues: An already charged setting can elevate minor moments, like deciding which stores to visit or when to get a snack, past their proper proportions.

However, logistical trip ups are easy to avoid with a little forethought. Plot out your destinations in advance, allowing for things that both of you need or want to do. With a plan in hand you'll be able to schedule plenty of time to get everything done, and you'll avoid inflating details (like differences in preference or priority) to out-and-out battles in the middle of a bustling store.


And don't forget to plan a little pleasure, too. Arrange a leisurely lunch at your favorite outdoor café in case shopping gets tense. And don't be afraid to break out the big guns if things get tough. Trust us, a quick visit with the puppies at the mall's pet store or a stop at the ice cream stand can sweeten a whole host of ill feelings.


Avoid Shopping Landmines

You've heard that history repeats itself, right? That's why the first step to ensuring a successful mother-daughter shopping trip is to think about your last one. Did a set of tableware cause a meltdown, or did you barely avoid blows over whose favorite mall to visit? Although we'd all love it if our previous problems disappeared with each shopping excursion, sometimes the best way to keep the peace is to avoid known triggers. And no matter what your shopping history looks like, there are some stores that no one should patronize with a family member. Let's face it: Some things are just better left unmentioned.

Unmentionables, for example. Look, if you're comfortable browsing the panty aisle together post-middle school, we salute you. But when it comes to sexy lingerie, we'd rather not know what's a staple in our family members' wardrobes. Just take our word for it and steer clear of this one.


But as much as you prepare, some conflicts just spring up from nowhere; keep your chin up and take down those lessons for next time. And for more tips on how to make sure there is a next time, read on.


Learn to Communicate

Style clashes are inevitable -- just keep it civil and honest, and try to explain why you like (or hate) the item of contention.
Style clashes are inevitable -- just keep it civil and honest, and try to explain why you like (or hate) the item of contention.
Dick Luria/Valueline/Thinkstock

Moms, you've got a tricky role. You've got years of wisdom and experience on your little girl, and you just know she'd make much better decisions if she'd only keep your opinion in mind. And daughters, you think it's awesome that Mom has so many ideas -- you just wish she'd keep them to herself and let you make decisions on your own.

Ladies, you're not going to fix this one for good, but here are some communication tips for presenting your opinions in the most productive ways possible.


  • Use "I" statements. You'd love to tell her exactly what's rubbing you the wrong way, but that can send a shopping trip into a downward spiral fast. Focus on expressing your own feelings instead.
  • Give her a chance to explain herself. According to linguistics author and professor Deborah Tannen, it's important that your other half feels heard, even if you're not planning on taking her advice. Following up verbally -- "It sounds like you're asking..." -- is a concrete way of showing that you're paying attention to her needs.
  • When in doubt, overcommunicate. It's easy to assume that a family member knows what's going on in your head, but they could be just as clueless as the lady behind you in line. So touch base frequently -- after all, you know what they say about what happens when you assume.

Still not on the same page? Read on to learn how to make different wavelengths work.


Agree to Disagree

It'd be so much easier if we could all just agree, wouldn't it? Actually, one of the most important roles you play in each other's lives developmentally is in providing opposing viewpoints -- that's why although it's tempting to want to be BFFs with your mom or daughter, psychologists don't recommend it.

These opposing viewpoints can be tough to deal with -- in fact, according to child development and family studies professor Karen Fingerman, they're more common earlier in the mother-daughter relationship than they are as you both age. Unfortunately, this dynamic means that you just may clash at times.


But that's no reason to let a disagreement ruin your whole shopping trip. Simply moving on from an argument that's going nowhere fast can help you avoid creating new hiccups in your relationship and set the stage for a new and improved mother-daughter team later in life. According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, the mother-daughter relationship is one of the strongest interpersonal bonds that exists, with 80 to 90 percent of women reporting good relationships with their mothers at mid-life. Take advantage of that strength, and move on from an argument to bigger and better things. More about that on the next page.


Get Creative

Sharing outings you'd otherwise make alone may give you the opportunity to discuss things like needs versus wants (and find the willpower to remember the difference).
Sharing outings you'd otherwise make alone may give you the opportunity to discuss things like needs versus wants (and find the willpower to remember the difference).
Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Comstock/Thinkstock

No relationship is perfect from the beginning, so why not give your shopping relationship a little room to grow? Instead of diving right into potentially loaded situations, try one of these ideas for hitting the shops.

  • Find a project to work on together. Whether it's a new craft, a household repair or a big family dinner, it's easier to keep the peace when you're rallying behind the same goal. And steer clear of any particular area of expertise for either of you -- it's important that you both come in on equal ground.
  • Share your solo excursions. We often bring our mothers or daughters along for higher-stakes shopping trips, like when we're choosing a new couch or buying an outfit for the office holiday party, and fly solo on the quick and easy stuff. Instead, try putting training wheels on your shopping trip by bringing your mother or daughter in when the stakes are low, like when you're looking for a new book or a set of greeting cards. It's a great way to get used to shopping together without the possible landmines of a major trip.
  • Shop for someone else. Moms and daughters have plenty of opinions on what their other half should do, use or wear, but shopping for a third party can take a lot of the pressure off. Take baby steps by removing yourselves from the situation.

Need more tips on how to maximize your mother-daughter shopping trip? Check out lots of helpful links on the next page.



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More Great Links


  • Barash, Susan Shapiro. "Being a Friend to Your Daughter Could be Toxic." Psychology Today. November 1, 2010. (November 30, 2011) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/friend-or-foe/201011/being-friend-your-daughter-could-be-toxic
  • Campbell, Susan. "The Mother-Daughter Bond." Psychology Today. May 1, 2001. (November 30, 2011) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200105/the-mother-daughter-bond
  • Reistad-Long, Sara. "Mother-Daughter Relationships." Real Simple. (November 30, 2011) http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/relationships/mother-daughter-relationships-10000001612778/index.html