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For Mothers

For Mothers: Is it wise to show your vulnerability?

Vulnerability

Google defines vulnerability as, “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” 

I seems to me to be more negative than I think of vulnerability… “Being exposed” — emotionally and physically I agree with, but rather than it being the possibility of being harmed or attacked, I’d say it is being exposed emotionally or physically, to such a degree as one could be harmed but one chooses to allow themselves to be transparent in spite of the risk of the consequences of exposure.

All that being said, many social and family psychologists could debate whether parents need to appear confident and assured rather than show any vulnerability, for the sake of the security and peace of mind of their children. 

However, I’m asking: For mothers is it wise to show your vulnerability? I think particularly if there are two parents, it might be okay for one to show her vulnerability to a young child at some point. 

Mostly for the security of the child, we parents need to appear to have it all together, so the child doesn’t worry about his safety or the security of the family unit. But sometimes, maybe, the child needs to see more of our humanity as mums… 

Personal story

I once was so tired of my young child’s antics, I finally let him see my frustration through my tears. Yes, I cried a little in front of him which surprised him — I could see in his face that he saw my reaction to him and it caused him to pause and look. At that moment, he saw me. I think because he saw the human frailty in someone he loved, he stopped the naughty behaviour. 

Was it a bad thing I did? I don’t know. Child psychologists might say it was.

It was a sincere, rather than a manipulative demonstration of emotional vulnerability in response to his behaviour. But did it burden him? I don’t think so…. Rather I think it “woke him up” to the reality that I could be frail. 

I don’t think it would have been good if this were a lifestyle choice for my child-rearing. But I think at that particular moment, (I hope) it was alright for him to see my vulnerability — the real affect his behaviour was having upon me was negative; I think his seeing me sad helped him to see the cause and effect of his negative behaviour.

Confidence

Generally, I think our children need to see us exercising self confidence and self control. That is so they can feel safe even if they lack confidence or control over their situations. They are vulnerable, simply by the fact that they are smaller than adults, less experienced and less powerful than we are.

My son as a teen once said to me while I was driving and I kept repeating, “I’m not sure where I’m going..”

“Mom, you have to be confident no matter what, even if you don’t feel you are….” In the context of our situation, it was shortly after my husband’s/his father’s death. He was saying, ‘I need you to show me absolute confidence right now…’ And his frankness did shut me up and get me better focused on the task at hand.

Frankness on both sides is a good building block to a relationship with our children. 

SO the answer is Yes and No…

Sometimes it is right to expose our children to our weakness. Not usually, but sometimes. They need to know they are safe. But sometimes, they need to discover we are not brick walls but open windows… open to what life brings, courageous to deal with it, but also vulnerable to the circumstances they might inflict upon us. 

It’s important for our children to feel safe. But they also need to know that the world — or they — can cause us grief, from time to time. It is never for us to make them feel ashamed or guilty. But they do need to learn their negative behaviour can effect us, especially if they have not yet discovered their behaviour does impact other people’s lives. 

As human beings we are not responsible for how someone receives our personalities, whether they like us or whether they don’t. But we all do need to learn our behaviour and our choices do impact other people. Once we know that, it’s up to us to decide the value of our freedom verses our responsibility toward others in our day to day lives. It’s a basic aspect to socialisation.

Sometimes allowing our children to see our vulnerability will help them in their social development. At some point, our only recourse might be to let them see our weakness when they are exhausting us or frustrating us with their disagreeable behaviour. One way or another, our children need to learn the cause and effect of their behaviour on others and at some point, that may mean we need to let them see us just as we feel in response to them.

Every blessing as we all learn to navigate parenting better and better!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Pamper yourself

We need to look after ourselves… learn to pamper ourselves… so we can be our best for our families.

Self denial is not necessarily a virtue. If we’re flying in a plane and there is turbulence, what are we told to do when the facemarks fall from above our heads? We’re told, put ours on — first.

Self care

As mums, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t have the energy, health, or rest to take care of our families.

Life is a balance, and part of that balance surely includes taking care of ourselves.

On the other hand, self indulgence is equally unhealthy, both for ourselves and our families. So how do we find a balance?

What is pampering?

Occasionally, can we ensure we have time to ourselves?

At least once a day, can we make sure we have a quiet time where we can gather our thoughts, gather our strength, gather our emotions and acknowledge if we’re struggling?

At least once a week, can we ensure we give ourselves a treat: a bubble bath or a longer-than-usual shower; a walk in a quiet spot near our work or home; a sweet dessert or a trip to the cinema (or watch a particularly lovely film broadcast on tv)?

Pampering is devoting attention to ourselves for a specific period of time. It doesn’t have to cost money. It is occasional, not a way of life. It doesn’t have to take a l-o-n-g time or cost a lot of money (or any at all in fact). It does need to be a consistent practice in our schedule to give care: to you!

Then we are refreshed

Mums, we are worth giving kind attention to ourselves. And it makes us better mums, just as a breather gives new life to a long distance runner. 

Let’s give ourselves a little break every now and then, so we can run that hard parenting race we so long to complete well.

Every blessing.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Waiting

Waiting is something we mothers have to do a lot of, right?

Our small children

We wait for our children to finish their food.

We wait for our children to follow us, to finish talking, to do their homework.

We wait for our children to fall asleep at night.

Our teenagers

When our children become teens there is a different sort of waiting…

We wait for our teen to say “thank you.”

We wait for our teen to look at us, to share with us, even to speak to us!

We wait for our teen to get home in the evening.

Our young adults

When they leave home, we wait for our offspring to call us.

We wait for our offspring to visit us.

We wait for our offspring to make their way: with a job, a family, a life of their own.

We wait.

And hope.

And pray.

And so, for mothers, our task is simple: 

Let us learn to wait with grace: patience, hope, dignity and encouragement. Rushing will not change anything and will make the waiting stressful and unpleasant for us all.

Let’s learn to wait, knowing our children want to please, want to grow, want to live just as much as we want it for them. As we wait, they will draw closer, knowing our love, compassion, nurture and hope for them is just as strong as theirs is for themselves.

Living a family life is a joint effort. Let’s do it together and do it the very best way we can: Together.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Whose job is it to parent?

Government v Parental Responsibility

I do not believe it is the job of a government to parent children. Parents are called parents because they have children in their care to… parent.

Ensuring a child gets schooling is the parent’s responsibility. Ensuring school is available is the government’s responsibility.

Ensuring a child has clothing, food and shelter is the parent’s responsibility. Ensuring there is work available, or for those who cannot work that there is a source of finance, is the government’s responsibility.

Sage wisdom

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he grows up he will not depart from it.” Proverb.

Healthy habits form early

There is a lot of wisdom in this. Whatever we learn when we are young tends to stick. So, let’s expose our children to wholesome people and wholesome places and wholesome food. That way our children will grow into healthy people emotionally, socially and physically.

Let’s not delegate

It is the parent’s responsibility to provide a secure, wholesome environment. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure safety and security is available throughout society.

It is a parent’s responsibility to love our children. The government cannot possibly love, care and protect children to the degree we can ourselves. 

We must not delegate or relinquish our jobs as parents. Our influence, our hearts, our actions are second to none. We cherish our children. Our children need our love and care. 

It is the parent’s job to parent. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure a safe society where parents and children can thrive. This is my opinion. What is yours?