“A mother’s love liberates”.~ Maya Angelou
I have 2 grown daughters, 39 and 34, who are beautiful adults and whom I love dearly. The other day I realized that although my daughters will always be my “kids” I could actually stop mothering them.
Okay this is where I lose those of you who still have small children under your roof. Might I suggest that you stick around to hear all of this because one day you too will want to stop mothering.
Here’s what I mean by my not mothering idea; you spend all of your child’s growing up years pumping all of your wisdom and worldliness into their wonderful little brains. You teach them everything you know and what you don’t know you send them to school to learn. Then they leave your house full of all that awesome knowledge that they can access at any given moment.
You reiterate all of your wisdom and knowledge again for the next few years as your adult children make their way into the world. Then all of a sudden you can’t stop doing it, every time you talk to them you are giving them the same advice repeatedly.
Ask yourself right now how often when you talk to your own mother does she tell you what to do and how to achieve it regardless of how old you are?
For me it became very clear that the greatest gift I could give my girls was the gift of shutting up and only handing out advice and opinions when they asked for them.
How does this improve your relationship with your adult child?
It will transform the child/parent relationship into an adult/adult relationship which is what we as parents work so hard to achieve. Then by turning off the “words of the wise” recording you launch into every time you have a conversation with them, you allow them to ask for your wisdom and knowledge. This gives them the ability to truly listen and appreciate the value of your words instead of hearing “Blah, Blah, Blah.”
Is this an easy transition? No, it’s not but here are a few steps to help you along the way.
- Tell your adult children what you are trying to do for them: Reassure them that you are not disinterested in their lives or have stopped caring just that you think they are smart, wonderful adults who have all of your wisdom instilled in them.
- Let them know that you will still share your wisdom and opinions: Only when asked and that you always enjoy sharing.
- Reassure them that you will always be there if needed: You are still their mother and will always be there to nurture and listen.
The art of “not” mothering has allowed me to enjoy the freedom of listening to my children without interjecting my wisdom or opinions. I have also freed up my life to move in a direction that resonates more for me!
What about you? I would love to hear your comments and wisdom on this “not” mothering suggestion. Also if you decide to try this in your life I would love to hear the positive things that happen with you and your adult children.
photo credit: Robert Whitehead via photo pin cc
As a mother, it’s difficult to find the right time to finally let go.
My youngest two are now leaving for university, and I have found myself more involved than they are in the organisation of moving to a new area and into student accommodation, finding out how they are going to travel from there to university, sorting out student finance, the location of local supermarkets so they can eat properly, and lots more besides.
I realise that I need to let go, and let them work it out for themselves, otherwise they will be reliant on me to continue sorting things on their behalf. And that’s not good for them or for me. So I’ve started taking a back-seat, and have told them so: if they have last minute panics because they haven’t got themselves organised, then they will learn a lot from that (hopefully!)
Gay Barefield says
It is hard to realize when that timing is just right but it sounds like you have your children well armed for their new life! Good for you and them! It is a process so take it slow and like I said explain to them what you are doing. They will love and respect you even more for it. Good Luck and thanks for your comment.
It is wonderful when you can stop mothering. I raised my children to be independent so I need to let them be. The hard part is to get your own parents to stop mothering or fathering as the case may be. LOL
Gay Barefield says
That is so true but maybe you will set an example for your parent! Also maybe just a gentle reminder of “You know you gave me all of your wonderful wisdom, trust me to use it wisely.” That might do the trick. Thanks for adding to our discussion.