I am very open about my negative relationship to my own mother which was the precipitating factor that led me down the road to ensuring that my daughter had a healthy mother and that we had a great relationship. It was not until 12 years into being the mother of a daughter that I realized that I needed to share what I knew, had learned/practiced and try to save other mothers from falling into these toxic traps. So in this blog, I will get personal about what I experienced as a daughter and how I didn’t repeat it as a mother…in 6 Toxic Traps
1. My mother was dismissive of my feelings…As a mother, I acknowledge my daughter’s feelings, make sure she knows she is heard, and follow up later to see if her feelings have changed.
2. My mother would withhold affection when mad…As a mother, I state my feelings when I am upset, I tell my daughter what I expect from her and why I am disappointed, then I allow her to speak her truth, and then I offer a hug. This shows her I still love her even when I am upset. I follow up later with more conversation once I have fully calmed down and this is the critical part because often times, daughters may not want a hug while still upset, and that is ok, do not take that personal.
3. My mother was controlling…As a mother, I recognize my daughter is her own person, with her own feelings and thoughts. I do not attempt to control her, and instead offer guidance, boundaries, and allow her to learn critical lessons as a child that will be important as an adult. In the end, our role as mothers is to guide and help our child to be a healthy, responsible, self-directed and independent adult.
4. My mother was aggressive and physical…As a mother I do not hit my child or hurt her intentionally. As a mother, if I have become so upset that I want to hurt my own child, I have lost control. Part of our role is to model healthy behaviors and self-control is one of those. When we are not able to calm ourselves, our toxic emotions are modeling for our daughters what it means to be angry or upset.
5. My mother was self-involved, she only saw her own misery…As a mother I realize that while my problems might seem bigger to me, my daughter’s problems are just as big to her. When we dismiss our daughter’s feelings and say things like “Wanna trade problems?” or “Just wait till you have to pay bills!” we are being self-involved and dismissive.
6. My mother blamed PMS and more…As a mother I never excuse my behavior by blaming my biology or anything else for that matter. When we blame, we are not accepting responsibility for the choices we make. When we blame PMS especially we are saying to our daughters that THIS is what being a woman means. It is critical to teach our daughters that our emotions fluctuate and how we respond to them is a choice. This models responsibility instead of blame shifting.