---- — In a way, Mother’s Day is a practical way to implement one of the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and your mother.”
Motherhood is meant to be a beautiful thing, and Mother’s Day is a holiday to celebrate the ideals of motherhood. These ideals can be intimidating, for even the best mothers have their failed moments.
Both my wife and I were blessed with good mothers. But what makes a good mother? There are many possible measuring sticks. Psychologist Stephan Poulter takes an interesting approach, as documented in an article from psychologies.co.uk. Dr. Poulter sees five types of mothers.
The perfectionist mother: “Typically, an over-controlling, fearful and anxious woman for whom appearance is everything. Her children tend to be hypercritical of themselves, feeling inadequate and emotionally empty ...”
I read somewhere that a perfectionist is someone who takes infinite pains and gives them to others. Children grow up feeling they always miss the mark, because the bar is constantly raised higher. Compliments become land mines with hidden exhortations to do even better.
The unpredictable mother: “Anxious, angry, excessively emotional, she is overwhelmed by feelings so her parenting style is based purely on mood. This type has the most chaotic of the five styles. She creates problems, issues and crises ...”
Sometimes the unpredictable mother has a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) condition (bi-polar, borderline personality disorder, etc.). In other instances, she is driven by her feelings; rather than follow wisdom despite her feelings, she follows her feelings despite wisdom! Following your “heart” may work for “Star Wars,” but sense and stability work better in real life.
The “best friend” mother: “She enjoys treating her children as equals in order to avoid the responsibility of setting boundaries. This mother believes her life would be over if she embraced motherhood so avoids that role. Instead, both child and parent assume the role of emotional confidante and partner, leaving the child effectively motherless ...”
It is great to see a mother participating in events with her children, but it is sad to see a mom who is more concerned about pleasing her children in the short term than doing what is in their long-term best interest. I have seen a number of homes where children (often one child) rule the home. A good mother can handle it if a child is angry at her and doesn’t approve of mom’s decision. Parents are older and do know more than kids: Kids do not have an equal vote.
The me-first mother: “One of the most prevalent mothering styles, me-firsts are unable to view their children as separate individuals and tend to be self-absorbed and insecure.”
There is a sense in which children are extensions of ourselves. But they are distinct individuals. Even young children have the same range of emotions as do adults. This is where a little theology comes into play: We do not own our children, nor does the state. God does. And he gives parents the responsibility to rear these children that he owns, with a view toward independence and self-sufficiency. Parents are God’s trustees, guardians.
The complete mother: This category is the one good moms strive toward. It describes a balanced mom who, “... combines the best elements of the other four styles. Emotionally balanced, she can see her children as individuals and help them achieve their own independence. She isn’t necessarily perfect herself but whatever her emotional circumstances, she is committed to motherhood — regardless of other responsibilities outside the home.”
Those of us who were blessed with particularly good moms remember them as women who were unselfish and considerate of our best interest, while not being afraid to exercise authority and had no fear of saying “no,” but preferred to say “yes” when reasonable. Our moms listened to us, felt our pain, and did what they had to do — even if it involved personal sacrifice — for our best interest.
Fortunately, there are no perfect moms. But the majority of moms amaze me. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at email@example.com.