How I Learned to Be a Better Mom
- May 14, 2015
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hello everyone. Writing this new Reflection Thursdays posts has been such a good way for me to focus in on what is important and to try to grow as a mom and person. I hope the posts are helpful to some of you out there! I’m particularly grateful for some of the wise comments you guys have written in with or posted on Facebook, which have led me to see things in a different way.
In last week’s post, I wrote about Grappling with your Child’s Unhappiness. One quote cited was “You are only as Happy as your Unhappiest Child.” And I described how when one of my kids appears unhappy about something, it helps to sit down with that child and craft a positive plan to look ahead and try to make things better.
Well, one of my friends from High School posted on Facebook something that made me see this issue in a different light, and helped me during a particularly tricky day with my kids last week. Here’s what Adrian said:
“My mother used to say this quote ALL of the time. It drove me crazy when the least happy child was my sister, and she obsessed to the point that everything happy in anyone’s else’s world, mine or my moms included, was eclipsed by this negative focus. So instinctively while it is where we go as mothers to worry about our kids when they are struggling, 20+ years into my journey with three kids ages 15, 17, and 20, I have practiced balance and joy in light of where the kids are individually, trusting that whatever their ailment, “this too shall pass.” It’s a conscious effort oftentimes!!! But ultimately I have found it is best for all my kids when I don’t tip over with every individual passing malady.
What do I say when they are struggling? That I have faith in them to strike their balance and find their own solutions. I give input when asked but always with the caveat that the ultimate choices, and thus successes, are theirs to claim. It empowers them! And of course I’m always ready with an ear and a Kleenex too…”
Wow. Adrian’s words made me realize that as much as though my heart aches when one of my kids is unhappy, and it’s so difficult to even think about anything else, the smarter course is to put this moment in perspective. It’s only one moment in time among many others. It’s so crucial to learn from your mistakes, and one that I’ve made is to try to solve everything for my kids rather than to allow them to solve things for themselves.
If I can trust that my child will figure out how to handle the challenge he is facing, the pressure on me to figure it all out is lessened. I can stay calmer. I can be more reassuring and create a positive environment for parent child communication.
My child’s confidence will be greater because when he’s on the other side of his unhappy moment, he knows that he himself pulled himself through. This type of independence and self-reliance has got to be one of the most important life skills for kids.
So what did I learn? I learned that when my child is feeling unhappy, that rather than try to intervene as the fixer, the helper, the solver, I should be an “ear and a Kleenex” guiding my child through their rough moments, all the while instilling in them that they have the strength and savvy to survive whatever life throws their way. So the way for me to be a better person and mom in this instance, ironically, is by doing less.
Another friend told me this morning that she asks her girls to look in the mirror as often as possible and say “I am strong, I am beautiful, I can handle anything.”
If I allow every unhappy moment to throw me for a loop, I won’t be there enough for my other kids, nor for myself. And I’m not teaching my kids how to cope.
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So here’s to not allowing a child’s unhappiness to define yours on that given day, to having the wisdom and strength to know that “this too shall pass,” to realizing that each painful moment turned into a teachable moment can be followed by a brighter one.
Here’s my realizing something important about how children succeed by helping themselves. And to my helping my child by believing in my child and trusting that they will figure it out.
Thank you, Adrian, and thank you all so much for reading. See ‘ya next week!