Mother-Daughter Clubbing: Fun Family Bonding or Unhealthy Relationship?

PHOTO: Vanesa Levine, 22, (left) and her mother, Nicole Levine, 47, (right) regularly go out together.
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It was 11 p.m. at a New York City hot spot. The music was thumping, the lights were dimmed and the night was still young for 22-year-old Vanesa Levine. She and her "BFF" Nicole, her shot-taking, booty-shaking partner in crime, hit the dance floor together nearly every weekend.

But here's the twist: Nicole Levine, 47, is Vanesa's mom.

"She's just like having another friend around," Vanesa said. "She parties, she knows how to dance."

Forget traditional Sunday dinner or the old-school mani-pedi outing. For some mothers and daughters, modern-day "Mommy and Me" time now means partying together till dawn, and Nicole said she sees nothing wrong with that.

"What's wrong with going out with your daughter, having fun, dancing, enjoying amazing moments together?" she asked.

The trend toward hipper, hotter moms has already been prevalent among Hollywood types. Dina Lohan used to famously go out clubbing with daughter Lindsay Lohan. Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes, Demi Moore and her daughter, Rumor Willis, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and her mother, Helen Polizzi, are just some of the famous mother-daughter duos seen out together. On Bravo's "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," family matriarch Kris Jenner and her Kardashian daughters are seen as nightclub regulars.

But not everyone agrees that mothers and daughters regularly partying together is healthy bonding. Kathryn Smerling, a psychologist in the New York City area, said celebrity culture can often damage mother-daughter relationships. She believes reality TV shows, such as "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," have brought "the unacceptable into our living rooms" because they show what she said are inappropriate mother-daughter relationships.

"It can very well be destructive to the young girl, especially if the mother is more attractive, especially if the mother is more outgoing," Smerling said. "It engenders competition."

But the Levines said their relationship is anything but competitive.

"It's like a mix of best friends plus someone who's telling me what's right, and you know when they're telling you, you listen," Vanesa said.

Despite Nicole's penchant for sexy, young clothes -- a shirt she said she wore out to the clubs looked more like lingerie -- it was clear she had no problem being the older voice of wisdom when laying down the law for Vanesa.

"I discipline her, absolutely," Nicole said. "I'm very blunt. ... I feel that she's doing something wrong then I make sure that she stops."

But it seems more and more women are blurring the lines of middle age, and refusing to age gracefully. Indeed, Nicole and Vanesa were profiled alongside other women who engage in this trending activity in the New York Post.

A recent poll showed 90 percent of people think women are under far more pressure than men to look young. Men are considered sexier at an older age, whereas women are more likely to consider plastic surgery to beat the signs of aging.

Smerling said celebrity culture was to blame for women's fight against aging.

"If that's all you think about and that's all that's important to you, you're going to strive for that in the same way that someone strives to be a Nobel scientist," she said. "It's just that we're in a Photoshop generation, in a Photoshop culture world."

Debbie Deangelo, 49, is another mom who parties as if she is still in her 20s with her daughter, but she said, despite what some might assume, it has nothing to do with reliving her glory days.

"I had my children young, but I also was out at the clubs when I was younger," Deangelo said. "I've been there, done that, so I'm not looking to recapture anything."

She called her 29-year-old daughter, Gina, her best friend, and their mother-daughter relationship was showcased with other like-minded women on the VH1 reality show "Mama Drama." Deangelo said she grew closer to her daughter after her divorce.

"I was with my ex-husband for 30 years. I've gone through so much s**t, and the saddest part is she had to go through everything with me," Gina said. "We've been the rock for each other."

Family therapists say theirs is a common mother-daughter dynamic in the aftermath of a divorce.

"Many of the women that go partying and go clubbing with their daughters are divorced women," Smerling said. "Perhaps [they are] looking for a companion to replace all the years that they were married."

But, Smerling cautioned, if the mother is divorced, then the daughter might feel pressure to pick them back up.

"Subconsciously, that means that the daughter is now responsible for making her mother happy, and making sure that her mother has a good time, when at that age she should be worried about whether she has a good time," she said.

Nicole Levine is also divorced but said that her kids were too young to have it affect them now. But when she was in her 20s, she had too much going on to go clubbing. Instead, she took care of the kids and threw herself into work.

"When I got divorced with two kids I was 26 years old," she said. "I was broke. I really, really was very, very poor. ... I was so desperate to make money and actually be able to pay my rent that the business just grew."

Nicole went from cleaning offices to owning a hugely successful cleaning company. She was even named the National Association of Women Business Owner's "New York Business Woman of the Year" in 2011. So as she went from rages to riches, Nicole rediscovered the fun-loving youthful side of herself she had long neglected.

"Being that I had to work my whole life and I didn't think about entertainment and I didn't think about going out, that stuff didn't matter to me it was so far for me," she said. "All of a sudden I reached 40, and I realized that I love dancing and I love to go out and I love doing things."

Now Nicole said she is vowing to spend her money enjoying herself with her kids. She and Vanesa recently traveled the world, from Brazil to Prague, checking out the club scene together along the way.

"What did Marilyn Monroe say?" Nicole said.

Vanesa responded, "'I'd rather be absolutely ridiculous ...'"

"'Than absolutely boring,'" Nicole finished.

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