If you are one of the lucky people who already have a fantastic relationship with their mother then count your lucky stars. Everyone is not so lucky. In spite of the studied, strong resiliency of the mother-child bond, there are plenty that are based in utter dysfunction. And, seeing as how Mothers’ Day shares a month with Mental Health Awareness, it’s a grand opportunity to talk about the significance of mother-child bonding.
Unhealthy relationships with mothers not only wreak havoc on the mother-child bond but can be a detriment to a child’s psychological development. This can manifest in all sorts of problematic social behaviors, even in adulthood. A 2010 study conducted by Live Science concluded that “American families were more than twice as likely as those living anywhere else to have so-called disharmonious relationships, or those defined by strong negative feelings, such as disagreement and tension, without any strong positive feelings, including feelings of closeness and amicability [only 51% reporting otherwise].” In addition, the U.S. is also notorious for the high percentage of single-parent households, with the majority composed of single mothers. This bears the question: what’s going on in our country that only half of our entire population gets along with their parents, particularly their mothers? I wish I had a clear-cut answer to it all. Instead, I have learned lessons from an experience that falls into the less favorable statistics.
My mother and I get along for the most part now but, truth be told, we lack a strong sense of closeness. She was the type of mother that made sure I had a good work ethic and took education seriously. I also recall her being the “cool mom” in many memories. Her generosity and down-to-earth nature was popular among my friends and her involvement in my schooling made her a favorite among my teachers. I’ve always appreciated her for making me driven and organized but other aspects of our relationship took hits that rippled through my adulthood.
Often times our personalities clashed. I felt she took some things too seriously and failed to really hear and understand me. It made me feel less than which manifested in my behavior as anxiety and self-doubt – a common result. Things really fell a part when I decided to move away from home to live with my now husband and pursue a career that was a bit different from what I thought I wanted before. Not only was my mother clear that she did not support my decisions – be it outright or passive aggressively – she told me my life choices were a betrayal to her and all she had “trained” me to be. We have since gotten to a better place but it has been difficult to reach the level of deep connection that I desire.
Although I do not have all the answers for all the whys in these circumstances, I can offer a remedy: forgiveness. This is a pretty tall glass of water for some, but whether you or your mother just don’t understand each other some days or have the regular falling out, it takes both parties finding it their heart to let go of the past and the set expectations. Sometimes we just have to meet each other wherever we are and, in much more unfortunate cases, leave them there. If your mother is still a part of your life, Mothers’ Day may be an opportunity to reevaluate things and reach a deeper level of closeness each year or at least remind you to be grateful of the good things she did have to offer, even it were few and far between.