When in conflict with your mother, consider her responses. She may not be reacting to you personally, but speaking from a hurt place within herself. When you respond from a place of compassion you are able to move beyond getting hooked into reacting and behaving towards her in a way which distances you both. It takes just one person to change a behaviour loop and by making this change, you create an opportunity for new communication styles between you. Whatever we choose to pay attention to grows. Making sure that we notice the good things about your mother and her positive behavioursas this creates a healthy balance in life and relationships.
Understanding your mother and learning to accept her for who she is, sets you free from trying to make her into something she isn’t. Acknowledging her imperfections, lowering your expectations and opening your heart to your mother, will bring transformation at the deepest level. Holding on to anything other than this, means you continue to hold onto your own suffering. My wish is that from now on, you allow more happiness, joy and love to flow into your life.
Learning about your mother’s past, will give you insights into what has shaped her behaviour and who she has become. Without this awareness the mother-daughter struggle continues, with each operating from the position of the wounded child. Healing personal traumas must come, before we can know, love and accept ourselves. In healing ourselves, we transform the relationship with our mothers.
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding - Albert Einstein
Our mothers are individuals in their own right with their own needs. It is an impossible task for any mother to give one hundred percent all of the time and it’s our job to recognise the times when she has been there for us in whatever capacity.
Take a moment to ponder the following questions. If you find yourself drawing blanks on the answers, you might like to explore how you can gather the missing information. Whether it is speaking directly to your mother, contacting other family members or researching the era your mother grew up in. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. The more information you have, the greater your capacity to understand your mother.
· How might your own mother’s identity be shaped through her upbringing and societal expectations?
· What were your mother’s dreams and goals in life before she gave birth to you?
· How might the era your mother grew up in shape her parenting style?
· What religious conditions may have influenced your mother’s parenting role and the rules and conditions passed down to you?
· What, in your opinion, has stopped your mother from providing you with what you needed most in childhood and now as an adult?
· What limiting beliefs did your mother have about herself and as a mother, a parent and as a woman generally?
· Reflecting back on your life experience with your mother, what do you appreciate the most?
In my work as a relationship consultant, many mothers have shared with me how they feared losing their baby in pregnancy or their child being harmed or unwell in later life. Others were frightened of giving birth and anxious about how they would cope afterwards. Some mothers have also shared how hard it is to be a wife and mother along with all the traditional womanly duties. It will be worth asking your mother what fears she had in relation to you being born into the world and even prior to your conception. If your mother is no longer alive, think back to your birth, the era your mother grew up in and the support she had to raise you. What fears may have been present for her during this time?
Katie Case Study
Katie came to work with me to gain some insights into how to set boundaries and to be more assertive in her relationship with her mother. Mother and daughter also attended individual and joint sessions so I could mediate between them, helping them to understand each other at a deeper level.
Katie shared with me, she was a sickly child and would cry almost nonstop as did her sister once Katie became restless. The relentless crying from two children under the age of four drove her mother Pauline to distraction, despite what she tried to do to calm her children’s’ crying, it wouldn’t cease. Her mother had spent a small fortune on parenting books, classes and seeing various specialists trying to get things right, she spent hours comparing herself to other mothers who had babies who slept through the night. In truth, Pauline never felt good enough as a mother and became an anxious and hyper vigilant parent.
Katie now understands as an adult, her mother’s need to check up on her. Although the attention was overwhelming and unwanted, Pauline still felt responsible for Katie’s well-being even as an adult. Working with both mother and daughter each were able to make some headway in understanding their relationship dynamics and how, as an adult, Katie no longer needed her mother to be so attentive.
Katie told her mother how much she loved her and explained her need to set new boundaries. Her mother received some separate support with me to reduce anxiety and to come to terms with past events which had been distressing for her. Katie made contact with me recently to say they were enjoying spending time together and the relationship had moved from strength to strength. The mother-daughter bond remains but has changed in a way which is far healthier, allowing both mother and daughter to gain the all important separation process while still having a positive equal relationship.
Without a game plan of how to improve things, it is possible your mother was stressed, had sleepless nights and judged herself on her abilities to be a ‘good enough’ mother, on top of all the usual pressures and demands of life. Making time to ask her or find out from her peers, what her challenges as a mother were, will aid a deeper understanding of her hopes and fears. It is not until we are mothers ourselves or have the responsibility of looking after young children can we understand what a demanding task it is to care for someone 24 hours a day.
Ready to learn more about your mother, yourself and your relationships in general. You will gain so many insights from my second book Mothers and Daughters: The guide to understanding and transforming the relationship with your mother.
You're also welcome to contact me if you'd like to work with me on a programme of support.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path - Gautama Buddha