Wishing everyone all the very best, thinking of you during the special occasion of Mothering Sunday. In New Zealand, Australia, many countries around the world, Mothers Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Which in 2020 was Sunday the 10th of May. And for many people, the current lockdown, or direction to stay at home means that for many adults, they are unable to visit their own mothers to celebrate together. Although for me, this year 2020 is no different. The reason being that due to “personal circumstances” (that I won’t go into here), I have been physically prevented from celebrating Mothers Day with my own Mother, as we live half way round the world from each other. It would take several days to travel to see each other and not only that the financial cost of airfares and limitations on holidays has not helped. Thank goodness for technology with telephones and video chats. Of course there nothing beats being there in person to be able to give our Mother a hug. But technology means that when that is impossible, at least we have a means to communicate. This year, as in previous years, I had a chat with my Mother by videoconference and I played some hymns on the piano that my Mother liked to hear.
I am only too aware though, of how sad a time and just how miserable this day can be to many. There will be those who have lost their Mothers who are reminded of their loss, particularly on Mothering Sunday, this loss can seem too much to bear. And then there are those who never met their own Mother, and there is the wondering, of what might have been and guessing who she was? Then on the flip side, there are those who wish they never had a Mother, or had had a different Mother. And I reflected on this when I saw the video from Dr Ramani on Mothers. It really is a fascinating video, and if you want to watch it too the link is:- https://youtu.be/VedPxLtgcLE
Interestingly, Dr Ramani released her video that I refer to above on Mother’s Day itself. Her video is interesting in that it talks about the relationship you have with your own Mother from the perspective of you being the child. And it also talks about the relationship between the Mother and child, from the perspective of you being the Mother. In her video, Dr Ramani discusses things that children need from their Mother, that include unconditional love.
This reminds me of Marisa Peers when she says in her video that parents need to say to their children they love them for being them. Not because they are beautiful. Not because they are clever. Because if you say that, then the child will think, okay, so if I later become not beautiful or not clever, then you won’t love me. Because you only love me because I am pretty or because I am clever. The youtube link to Marisa Peer’s video is:- https://youtu.be/L57HYnWVNfk
Marisa’s video is all about reprogramming the mind, and this naturally looks into children. Marisa says “ Do not say negative things to children ….” However this is often easier said than done. But there is help on how to cope with children’s meltdowns. Pooky Knightsmith Mental Health has a YouTube channel with some tips to help adults better understand children. And Pooky has produced a video with some useful ‘stock phrases’ to respond calmly, to children during a meltdown. Although aimed at teachers, this video is equally applicable to parents:- https://youtu.be/1yaNm8R6mFM
Referring back to Marisa’s video, if you scroll through to 53.14 in her video you’ll see Marisa’s thoughts on children and conditioning of the mind. “Think of your mind like a ferrari. Take that ferrari to where you want to go.”
At 7.13 minutes into Dr Ramani’s video she says people can become exhausted trying to manage their Mother’s rage, trying to find ways to appease her, and despairing in watching how their Mother treats her own partner (eg. your Father). Because a Mother is such a developmentally important relationship, often a relationship that sets the course for our lives, having a narcissistic Mother can set you on a track which is not healthy for you (7.30 mins).
At 7.51 of video, Dr Ramani says that if you have a narcissistic parent, you are headed down of four or even five pathways:-
- you become an anxious adult;
- you have problems with self regulation, eg. substance abuse, eating, spending, anger regulation. If you have a narcissistic Mother you don’t learn how to manage emotions because you don’t get a chance to talk;
- you are vulnerable to becoming narcissistic yourself:
- you are at greater risk of choosing a narcissistic partner who invalidates you and devalues you, many times because that is all you know Why? Because having that narcissistic Mum set that tone. (9.35mins into video); and
- you are at risk of co-dependency. eg for the child, they think, I need Mum to be happy. And when Mum is happy, then they can be happy. And then the child’s sense of self esteem starts to derive from whether or not Mum is having a good day.
At 12.20 minutes into her video, Dr Ramani said that there can be a sense of grief when people realise they never experienced having a good relationship with their Mother. And they feel they have been robbed of that. So many people crave that through their adulthood. They wish they had a friendship with their Mum.
If we felt that our relationship with our own Mum wasn’t that great, then we have a choice to make an effort to act differently in how we bring up our own children. At 14 minutes into her video, Dr Ramani talks about how new mums can make a decision on how they want to behave to their own children. To get this right by their kids therefore re-writing the book on Motherhood.
Children need permission, they need assurances, love and protection, and they also need boundaries, management. It is no secret that being a Mother is not an easy job. It carries so many responsibilities. And people are so quick to judge, even where they do not know the individual circumstances. No doubt we have all done that at one point in our lives. But with age we can only have faith that we will become more understanding and less judgmental. For instance, in that photo I have at the beginning of my video, it shows me holding my son, and his milk bottle. I am very much aware that many people who do not know me, will look at that photo and shake their head with disapproval. They will no doubt say to themselves, what a selfish Mother I am for refusing to breastfeed my own baby. After all we all know the positive health benefits a child gets by drinking breast milk, including a boost to their immunity. But what you would not know were my personal circumstances. The fact that I had always planned to breastfeed my baby. But I had no milk. I actually did not produce any milk, not before the birth, nor after the birth. I had had such a dreadfully stressful time leading up to and during and after childbirth, that my body failed to produce milk. So there was no other option but to buy formula milk to feed my baby. There were so many complications that I will not bore you with the details here. But thankfully all was okay in the end. But what you may also cannot tell just from that photo, is that I was so determined to breastfeed, that I used an electronic breast pump to force the milk out. It took a while. I had to use the machine, every few hours, throughout the day and night, on a daily basis In order to force the milk out. But over time, I started to produce enough milk that I was able to cut down the formula milk. And within half a year I was producing enough breast milk that I no longer needed to supplement with formula milk. Of course this then led onto other problems with over production of milk and the infection known as mastitis.
When I think back, to my own childhood, I remember how tough my Mother was on me. She had high expectations. But she also set boundaries and managed behaviour. And even though I may not have appreciated it the time the sternness, I always knew from how my Mother cared for and how she looked after me, that when she told me she loved me, I knew she was telling the truth. It wasn’t merely lip service. My Mother worked me hard. This may be partly because of alarm at how I was so different to other children. At one point I refused to eat…… anything. But clearly that was only a temporary blip. Then I refused to speak, not a word would I mutter. Somehow I went on strike or protest. My first language was Tongan. But my English wasn’t up to speed. So I was sent for assessment, and the speech therapist determined there was nothing wrong with me intellectually. But they did tell my parents that my Mother was not allowed to speak to me in Tongan, her native tongue. I am no expert on language development matters but to this day I believe that this professional made an error and should never have forbidden my Mother to speak to me in Tongan, as this essentially blocked our communication. Anyhow, my progress seemed to slow further as I continued to be slow to speak. I seemed to be on a back foot compared to other children. And yet I still managed to study the piano from the age of four and do ballet from four years of age with no problem whatsoever. I was able to read music, write notation, write English at school, dance ballet and understand french for Ballet and Italian for piano. I was fortunate that my school gave me daily individual tuition on how to speak, and my Mother also took me to speech therapy sessions once a week in town. By the time I had finished primary school I was able to speak English fluently. Meanwhile, almost every day of the week, my Mother was driving me around from one activity to another. She was very busy indeed running around after me. And for me too, it was definitely exhausting too. There wasn’t too much time left over to rest. But the weekends were fun a this was the time I was allowed to have play dates and just have fun.
When I reflected on these videos from Dr Ramani, and Marisa, I remembered my own time as a child. And the impact of the Mother on the child’s character. It also reminded me of the concept of shame. And how shaming affects a child’s confidence. With my Mother’s coaching I was able to become a high achiever over time as a child. Regardless of my late start to speak. But I didn’t always place first. Many times I just missed out and was second place. And when my distinctions turned into merits and passes, my Mother did not scold me or shame me. She still congratulated me because she knew that I had tried my hardest, regardless of the result, the important thing was that I had put the effort in and had tried my best. She would comfort me and let me know that it was okay. It was not the end of the world. And now when I look back at those piano competition and other musical concerts I attended as a child, and I witnessed how other Mothers would have tantrums at their own children, I realise just how fortunate I was with my own Mother. Although at the time I did not think that way! And when I received the Queens Award at my last year of High School, my Mother helped me to put together my speech, when I was asked out of the national recipients to be one of three to speak at the awards dinner.
Watching these videos from Dr Ramani, and Marisa Peer, and other notable psychologists, it is a good reminder how, as parents or caregivers, or any responsible adult, we must be cautious with the words we use. We need to be so careful with the vocabulary we choose to use to our children. We need to build up our children, to help them to become resilient.
In this video I made for today’s blog post, at the end of my little talk, I have attached two short videos that I made a few years ago, reciting poems from Helen Steiner Rice. If you would like to see more poems from Helen Steiner Rice, her official website which is:- http://www.helensteinerrice.com
Recently, I wrote another blog post, in which I shared some links to YouTube videos on mindfulness. Here are some more resources below:-
Guided Meditation to support sleeping
- Sleep in Space:- https://youtu.be/BQwCyR_xKqM
- Floating on a Cloud:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G23p85BA8uI
Guided Meditation to help with worry/anxiety
- The Magic Book- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkmmQawCgmk
- The Magic Shell- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX9PUQcdQ2U
Other useful links
- BBC Bitesize – SEND https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zh9v382
- Children 1st – Help for separated parents https://www.children1st.org.uk/help-for-families/parentline-scotland/guidance-advice/sharing-care-of-your-children-during-lockdown-when-you-are-divorced-or-separated/
- Supporting parents during lockdown https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-04/Supporting%20parents%20of%20Children%20and%20YoungPeople%20during%20lockdown.whs ct_.pdf
- NHS Looking After Children and Young People during Covid19 https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/looking-after-children-and-young- people-during-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/
- Five Ways to Wellbeing for Young People https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/social-health/health-and-wellbeing/mental-health-and-wellbeing/five-ways-to-wellbeing/five-ways-to-wellbeing-young-people/five-ways-to-wellbeing-for- young-people.asp
- Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/
- NSPCC https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/news/2020/april/supporting-children-young-people-mental-health
AD. This video was sponsored by Alice’s online Avon store. If you live in the UK products are dispatched from the warehouse direct to your door. Shop online at https://www.avon.uk.com/store/Aliceletts
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