On Mothering Sunday my thoughts always turn to those who find this day difficult. Mothers whose children are no longer with them, or those who only have photos and memories of their mother. There is another group of people who find Mothering Sunday hard to bear. Our guest post was written by Alethea, mother of five children who has her own reason for struggling with this day.
I’ve been reading blog posts from those who have lost their mum, and so find Mother’s Day painful. Or those who have lost their children, and so Mother’s Day can be unbearable.
I haven’t however seen a blog from someone like me. Who has a mum, but doesn’t. My mother has never really BEEN a mother to to me. Certainly not a mother I can look back and have fond memories of.
I am a mother. I have a wonderful Mother-in-law, but I don’t have a mum I can go to when I am struggling, and she say to me – when I was your age etc.
Or even, when having a trying day with one of the children, that I can moan to her and she remind me of when I was like that, or that age, or silly things I said, or silly things I did.
I don’t know the exact time I was born – My mother always said a different time, and when I did have a relationship with my father, he told me a whole other time of day.
I don’t know what I was like as a baby. I have a few photos, but I don’t know if I was a good sleeper, a happy baby, a grumpy baby.
I don’t know when I took my first steps, or said my first word – or what that word was.
I know how old I was when my mother became too ill to care for me.
I know how old I was when I stopped wanting to see her (and was still forced to continue).
I know how old I was when I was locked in my headmaster’s office at middle school as my mother had escaped her hospital ward and hitch-hiked to get to me and take me away.
I don’t write this for sympathy. I write this as I know I have friends out there who also have their mothers, but don’t. Mainly due to horrific stories in their past.
I hold my hand out to those of you. We rock you know. We are learning how to be the mothers (parents in fact) we always dreamed of, without that perfect lesson we should have had.
How to Break Up with a Toxic Parent / HeySigmund
“It’s one thing to be dipped in venom by those you don’t really care about, but when it’s by the person who is meant to love you, hold you, and take the sharp edges off the world, while teaching you with love, wisdom and warmth how to do it for yourself, it changes you. There is a different kind of hurt that can only come from the people you love. Kind of like being broken from the inside out… ”
“You deserve recognition for completing the hardest break-up known to the human heart.
Whether it was because of an addiction, a compulsive need to put you down, an ex-communication, an inability to give and receive love, or just the turmoil of dealing with a broken woman, you did something that most people regard as taboo. And that takes courage…”
“If you don’t eat your meat, you won’t get any pudding”, might have worked for Pink Floyd, but if your child is a fussy eater, you’ll know [stubborn face] when you see it!
Perfectionism – is it a positive trait or a negative one? The typical interview question about personal flaws is often answered with, “I’m a perfectionist”, which is a bit of a humble-brag really. It’s ok to be a perfectionist, up to a point, but what happens when the aim of being flawless goes too far, and begins to impact self-esteem and happiness? And what do we do, when we recognise these traits in our kids?
Emily already wrote about some of the ways that she helps her daughter accept and embrace mistakes; here are some other ways to help a perfectionist child.
Celebrate the Journey
Learning something new isn’t just about achieving goals, but having fun along the way. Don’t just comment on the achievements made, but also on the fun of learning something new. Learning a new language is a good example – you can have a lot of fun finding new words, or playing word games, rather than worrying about exam results.
Look Forward and Backwards
My daughter is learning to play the piano, and we sometimes video her. When we play the video back a month or two later, she can see how far she’s come, and how much her playing has improved. It is also encouraging to say, “You’ve improved so much. Just imagine how good you are going to be in another couple of months, and how pleased you will be with your progress”.
Perfectionists often limit themselves to activities in which they excel naturally. A friend told me of refusing to learn sudoku or horse-riding, giving the excuse that she didn’t need to, because she was sure to be good at these activities anyway. What she was really hiding was her fear of numbers, and of large animals. If your child does this, then gently coax her out of her comfort zone. Don’t go overboard with praise for the natural talents, but be very encouraging and supportive of the scary activities.
Measure Your Response
When your child comes home from school, happily waving their French exam results, then celebrate the achievement of getting a B, and don’t say, “That’s great. With a bit more work, you’ll get an A next time”. The take-away for your child is, “mum would have been even happier, if I’d got an A. I’ve disappointed her”. Ensure that your child knows that even if they have a disappointing result, that you love them unconditionally, and appreciate the effort that they’ve put in.
Take Their Disappointment Seriously
Don’t try to cajole them, or cheer them up, if they are disappointed with a result. “Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. You’ll do better next time”, won’t help a perfectionist get over their self-anger. Asking “I can see that you are disappointed. Would you like to talk about it?” might help them open up to you. Talk to them about where they think they went wrong, and whether it could have been avoided.
Don’t Model Perfectionist Behaviour
This is the most difficult part, if you have perfectionist tendencies! Try to moderate your comments re your own achievements, both in your personal life, and at work. Show pride and satisfaction in your work, and celebrate the small steps along the way. Try not to be negative when you talk about how things are going at work.
If you need to brush up your grammar, check out our eBook. The book is designed for parents who have found gaps in their knowledge and are struggling to help their kids with homework. If you (or your children) are learning a foreign language, getting to grips with English grammar first is essential.
You can find out more about the book, preview some pages and read reviews here.
If you have any questions, Millie Slavidou is on Twitter @millieslavidou or on her FB page, where she is always happy to talk about language, grammar, and etymology.
The eBook can be downloaded here – and added to your eReader of choice.
What is Adolescence?
Although we often use the words adolescent and teenager interchangeably, they actually refer to different things. A teenager is a young person between the ages of 13 and 19, while the start of adolescence is marked by the onset of puberty, and its end is generally accepted to be around the age of 19 or 20. While teenagerhood is a social idea, adolescence is a period of biological development common to all human cultures, and one that is also found in many non-human species.
During adolescence young people begin to pull away from their parents and to assert their independence and individuality. At the same time they start to explore their identity and how they fit in with their peers as well as society as a whole. The opinion of their peers is likely to matter more to an adolescent than that of their parents or other adults. They may behave more impulsively and take more risks than before without thought of the consequences, while their sleep patterns change drastically. You’ll be relieved to hear that there are reasons for all this! Our science editor Samantha Gouldson investigates the neuroscience of the teenage brain.