When Mothers Day arrives it is often a time to reflect on how our relationship with Mum has changed over the years. Sometimes part of the problem is that we can see how the relationship has changed, as we are perhaps a parent ourselves, or we have a successful business or career, but Mum still treats us as the kid who struggled with spelling or was afraid of dogs.
Let us look at how we can improve the relationship, as it is important to make the most of the time we have left with her.We have an important opportunity to enhance and improve the relationship whilst we both can appreciate it. Sometimes a useful first step is to try and see things from her point of view.
For some mothers part of the problem can be in acknowledging that their child is now an adult. There is no line in the sand where a mother suddenly realises that her child is now making its own decisions and she can now relinquish the responsibility. Good hearted, affectionate humour can often be used effectively to make the point and let her see that she can now relax and just enjoy the relationship rather than have to manage it as well. Honour is a wonderful way of holding up a mirror and reflecting back to let her see how she is behaving.
Some mothers may have had disharmony or difficult times in the early years of their relationship with their children. Letting go of those hurts can sometimes be difficult, especially if the problems have been continued over a long period of time. It may be useful to clear the air and discuss how you have both moved on. Things can be so much better between you now that you are an older and more settled adult. You have the chance to enjoy a valuable sharing relationship. Perseverance and tolerance may well win through.
Sometimes the difficult patches in the relationship have occurred more recently. Are you completely innocent in the rift or is it worth appreciating that you do have some responsibility in the matter ? Try apologising. It could make all the difference and also enable her to see you in a more grown up light.
If Mum is the one who has made mistakes it may not be easy for her to accept responsibility and apologise. Sometimes we may need to forgive the mistake and move on, particularly if we want to keep the relationship in our life. Forgiveness is sometimes an indicator of being the bigger person. It may also be time to recognise that our mother is a human being and capable of making mistakes. That in itself can be a huge revelation, the time when we realise that our mother has flaws and faults and is not the perfect, ideal person that we always imagined she was.
If there has been disruption in their adult childrens’ personal relationships some mothers find it hard to step back from giving advice and hands on support. She may have been needed for a time and it can be tough to realise that once the emergency is over it may then be time for her to take a step back. Discuss how you appreciate all that has been done for you, but now you are back on track and keen to run your life how you feel is best. Finding ways to continue including her in a lighter, more social capacity is a respectful way to demonstrate how much she means to you and the family.
Child care can be a difficult area to manage. It is important at the outset to be clear as to what your standards are. There may well have to be some tolerance and flexibility on both sides, especially if you need the help regularly. If there is one area where you strongly disagree about her approach, move onto an area where you would appreciate her opinions and advice and let her know how much you value that support. Mutual respect is important by way of appreciating each others opinions.
Also, look to include mother in some of the good times too, not just the chores and the baby sitting. Think, when is the last time the two of you went out together for fun ? Try to schedule in a lunch, a show or a concert, something where you can enjoy each others company and chat and laugh together. Enjoy time together as adults.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist
About this authorSusan Leigh is a long established Counsellor and Hypnotherapist, with over twenty years experience. She is a member of several professional organisations and is committed to a programme of Continuous Professional Development.
She started the practice in 1988 with her husband Frederick, and after being widowed at the age of 39, took over the practice full time.
Prior to working as a Counsellor, Susan worked for many years with a blue chip company and has experienced the stresses of balancing a corporate and personal life. Now she balances writing regularly for many organisations, is a regular contributor to BBC radio and has a thriving Counselling and Hypnotherapy practice. She works with individuals, helping them cope better with the pressures of daily life, works with couples to provide relationship counselling and improve communications, and in business to provide support to staff members and teams. She has had a lot of success working with clients with unexplained infertility in women and also with managing pain in childbirth. Many of her clients have successfully gone on to become pregnant and have a positive experience of giving birth. For more information see www.lifestyletherapy.net