How Do You Grade Yourself as a Mom?
Every mom wants to know that she’s doing a good job. It’s natural for moms to look for validation. We compare ourselves to other moms and other daughters, or we look to our daughter’s behaviour for confirmation.
This is a big trap for moms and is the #1 reason many moms don’t feel good about their parenting at the end of the day.
I was talking to a mom who had grown kids and her advice for moms of teenagers was this, "Don’t judge yourself on your parenting until your teens are in their 30′ or 40’s."
I laughed, but there’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.
Do you grade yourself as a mom by how well your daughter is doing?
This feels logical. You think, "If my daughter is making good grades and is respectful at home, then I’m doing a good job. If she fails a test or has a drama fit, then I get an F on my mom report card." Here’s the problem, though. You see your daughter in a number of situations throughout the day. Each interaction becomes an invitation to judge yourself to see if you’re "getting everything right."
- "If my daughter is always polite and respectful, I’m getting things right."
- "If my daughter is happy, I’m getting things right."
- "If my daughter obeys me and behaves, I’m getting things right."
- "If my daughter makes good grades and excels in sports, dance, music, or theater, I’m getting things right."
- "If my daughter is popular and has lots of friends, I’m getting things right."
- "If my daughter has the perfect weight and is in shape, I’m getting things right."
You can’t let your self-worth be dependent on your daughter’s performance or mood. If you do, her success or failure becomes about you and you are on the slippery slope to Mother Shame.
Are You Impacted by Mother Shame?
In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, defines shame as "the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging."
I define Mother Shame as the persistent gut wrenching feeling that you’re flawed as a mother and failing everyone in your family.
Mother Shame says that YOU are the problem.
This horrible feeling keeps you from being authentic with other moms. You’re afraid to be real because you feel like you’re the only one who can’t get it together. This is a normal feeling among moms of teens.
In my Power Your Parenting Program, I have a group call with moms from all over the country where I provide a safe and nurturing place for them to speak their truths. Frequently, these moms say, "I’m so relieved. I thought I was the only one."
You’re not the only one. This is a cultural problem. When we see the big picture, and speak our truth with like-minded moms, we’re set free from this shame.
The challenge is that when you’re in Mother Shame, it feels personal. You feel like you’re the only one and don’t belong.
Then you internalize the shame through the Sneaky Mean Voice, which is the continuous running commentary in your head.
The Sneaky Mean Voice
Here’s why I call this voice "sneaky." Most of the time, you’re not conscious the voice is there, but it’s blabbing away in the background of your life. You may be doing the laundry or on a conference call at work while the voice is pounding away at you.
The voice is mean. Psychologists call it the "critical inner voice." But it’s more than critical; it’s your worst enemy. The messages are cruel, debilitating, and knock the wind out of you. The mean voice looks for opportunities to attack.
- Mean Voice criticizes you: "You’re an idiot. You can’t get anything right. You’re a loser."
- Mean Voice mocks you: "Of course she doesn’t listen to you. You don’t have a clue."
- Mean Voice questions you: "Why did you do that? Why did you open your mouth?"
The Mean Voice disempowers and maintains the Mother Shame. Like fear, shame causes us to go offline from the higher brain. We’re stuck reacting, obsessing, and compulsively reaching for the unattainable bar of perfection in hopes of silencing the Sneaky Mean Voice. But as long as we believe Powerless Parenting Message #4, we will not be able to silence this voice.
The Sneaky Mean Voice shakes your confidence, so you look for validation from outside yourself, be it from husbands, family, mentors, or other moms. This can cause a whole new set of problems.
When you put so much value on what other people think or expect from you, you can lose yourself in the process.
…I’m going to give you a gift today. If you have read to the end of this article, I’m going to give you an "A" on your mom report card. This tells me you are open, invested, and teachable. You can go to colleenogrady.com and download a free chapter from my book Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter, or buy your own copy at Barnes and Noble or online at amazon.com.