The biggest problem in the life of today’s all-too typical mother is herself. She is her own worst enemy. Them’s fightin’ words, I know, but please, hold the tomatoes and other vegetables and bear with me.
One of the doctrines of the Good Mommy Club, the evil sisterhood to which many if not most of today’s mommies belong, albeit unwittingly, has it that the Good Mommy does as much for her child as she possibly can, and then some. A guarantee of frustration, anxiety, stress, resentment and guilt, that.
The mother of the 1950s, the decade of my childhood, had no Good Mommy Club to which to belong. Furthermore, that very commonsensically-grounded mother wouldn’t be welcome in today’s GMC, which got its start around 1970 and has been swallowing women whole ever since.
By the time I was 3, my mother was deliberately, with purpose in mind, doing as little for me as reason allowed. I learned to tie my own shoes when I was 4, for example, because my mother, after showing me how, refused to tie them for me.
“John Rosemond,” she would say, “My job is to make sure you learn to stand on your own two feet, and if I let you stand on mine, you’ll never learn to stand on yours.” Hardly the words of an enabler. Kids don’t hear their moms talk like that anymore. What a shame.
Telling her I “couldn’t” do something was unacceptable. “Well, that’s too bad,” she’d say, “because I’m not doing it for you.”
Unlike all too many of today’s kids, I was not an object of obsession, much less coddling. I knew full well that my mother loved me with all her heart, but I was not the be-all, end-all of her existence. She had a life outside of her responsibilities toward me — a job, college, lots of friends. For that reason, I saw her as an interesting person. She taught me, at an early age, that women were interesting people. Every mother should have that purpose in mind.
A mother who is obsessed with her kids is not going to be regarded by them as interesting. They are going to take her for granted. The idol doesn’t find the idol-worshipper interesting in the least.
All too many of today’s mothers have taught their kids — again, unwittingly — to think of them as biological vending machines who are there to dispense and deliver whatever they want. Vending machine, perpetual enabler, servant-on-the-ready; not self-respecting roles for a woman to play in a child’s life.
Today’s all-too-typical mom demeans herself and her sycophantic attitude leads to disrespect of all sorts. (And yes, I know there are exceptions and they know who they are.) Instead of respecting their mothers and wanting to please them, the Good Mommy’s kids EXPECT from her.
I give thanks almost daily for having been blessed with a mom who showed me how to tie my shoes when I was 4 and let me figure it out from there.
Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com.