Today is Mother’s Day, and many people are celebrating their mother. Unfortunately, a reality of life is that not everyone has a good mother and/or a good relationship with their mother. I did not have a good relationship with my mother. She was a good provider and took good care of me, but her mental illness caused many problems and a lot of pain. I know many other people who do not have a good relationship with their mother either. We take for granted that if a woman has a child, then she will be good mother. However, that is not true. She may not know how to be a good mother, or she may be so damaged herself, that she is incapable of healthy parenting.
The women I work with at the shelter have experienced trauma, and a common area is with their mother. At a group meeting with the ladies I work with last week, someone brought up the subject of difficulties with her mother. Immediately, several of the other ladies were crying and shaking their heads in agreement. Some of the comments were very upsetting, “my mom said she wished I was dead,’ “mine said if it wasn’t for me having kids she would kill me,” and “mine said to get out and she doesn’t care what happens to me.” Unfortunately, I can relate to these statements.
Some people had terrible experiences with their mother when growing up. Some were on drugs, some were physically, verbally, and/or emotionally abusive. Some allowed a man to molest them. At another group meeting a few weeks ago, one of the ladies said how her step-father molested her starting at 12 years old. She said till this day, her mother says “she wanted it,’ and is mad at her, not the man, who she stayed with until he died by the way. Again, several heads nodded and there were multiple “me too’s” in the room. Some mother’s were not present at all, and the kids grew up in the system. This is real life I’m talking about. Sorry, but everyone did not have a model childhood, there are many people out here that have experienced some horrible things, and their pain is real. My blog is for women in challenging situations, and a very real challenge to overcome is a difficult situation with your mother.
I have some words of healing and some advice for anyone who has experienced a trying relationship with their mother. First, I want you to know that God loves you.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. ~ Psalm 27:10
Regardless to what was done to you or how bad you feel, you have value, you have worth, and you are special. You are not the bad names that your mother called you, you are not trash, and you are not a mistake. Even if you were a mistake to her, you are not a mistake to God! He planned for you to be here, and that is why you made it.
I have three points of advice for anyone who has experienced a painful relationship with their mother.
Number 1 – I suggest that you seek therapy or counseling. Don’t fall into the “strong black woman” syndrome. This is a belief in the black community about black women being the strongest women on earth, and we do not need help from anyone. People say that we have been carrying the weight of the world on our backs our entire lives, and no one understands our plight, so therefore we do not need therapy. Although I agree about our struggle being unique, I do not agree that we do not need help. Too many of us are walking around broken and damaged, and mistakenly calling it being “resilient.” If you have trauma from your mother and do not deal with it, it will affect every area of your life and you don’t even know it. Girl get your life together and get some counseling! Find a counselor or therapist that you trust and work through the pain.
Number 2 – Find a loving mother figure. One of the things that helped me the most, was having other mother figures in my life. My aunts and my Godmother were and still are loving figures in my life. You can make it a goal to develop positive relationships with other women. These women can be a source of love, support, mothering, and friendship. Some examples are an aunt, grandmother, cousin, godmother, your pastor’s wife, a mentor, or a friend. I want you to know that not all women are bad. There are good women in this world that would love you and treat you like their own. Open up your heart and let love in.
Number 3 – My last piece of advice is to break the cycle with your own children. Do not inflict the same pain on your children that was inflicted on you. This may seem obvious and you may ask “who would treat their children bad, especially if they have experienced it?” The answer is A LOT OF PEOPLE! Trust me, I see it every day at the shelter. Ever seen someone call their 2-year-old child a MF, or curse their kids like they are enemies on the street? I have. Hurt people, hurt people. Even their own children. That is why the counseling and a positive role models are important. Counseling can help work through the trauma, so you can properly love your children. A positive role model can provide the example you may not have had.
People assume that everyone should know how to be a loving mother. But think about it….if you have never seen a positive loving mother role model, how do you know how to be one. If your mother snatched you around and called you foul names since birth, it was programmed into your brain that is normal and you are likely to repeat it. That is why you have to “break it.” DO NOT repeat the cycle of abuse with your children. Give them all of the love that you didn’t have. Make a conscious effort to show your children love. Here are some practical examples of how to show love to your children:
- Tell them you love them often. Even if it is not every day, say it regularly.
- Give them hugs and kisses. Physical affection is very important for a child.
- Speak positive words over them. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Instead of speaking negativity and curses over them, such as “you are stupid,” say things like “you are so special,” “God has a plan for your life,” and “you are a beautiful person.”
- Invest in them. What I mean is to spend time, money, and energy on making them better. Get them involved in sports, dance, the arts, or something they like to do.
- Do not speak so harshly to them. All mothers have to discipline their children. I am not referring to appropriate discipline. I am referring to screaming at them, calling them names, and treating them badly. Do not be rough and aggressive with your children.
This article is hard. No one wants to talk about negative experiences with motherhood. But if you never expose a wound, it will not heal. That is the goal. Healing. Like a lot of sensitive subjects, people often feel like they are the only one. So, I want you to know that if you do not have a good relationship with your mother, you are not the only one. I also want you to know you can still have a great life. Get counseling, find a positive mother figure, and break the cycle with your children.
I know it works, it worked for me. I have a wonderful relationship with my own daughter. I made it my goal to have a good relationship with my daughter. She is 15 years old, and we have normal teenage problems! Our relationship is not perfect, but we do not have any major issues, and she is a very good girl, especially to be a teenager. She is a loving person, and I thank God that our relationship is good. I am not a perfect mother, but I can honestly say that I have never called her out of her name, or spoken negativity into her life. I have told her she was special since the day she came out! I tell her I love her almost everyday, and we are very affectionate with each other. I broke the cycle, and you can too.
Happy Mother’s Day!