Sometimes we wish we were born to a different family, had different parents and a different way of relating to them. We wish that our parents will change, be more supportive and lenient, or less intrusive and domineering. Some times the change seem to take forever and we wonder if our relationship with our parents will ever change.
What’s your relationship with mum like? Is she the nagger, the navigator of your life, the damsel-in-distress, totally unbothered, or your best friend? Whatever position she holds in your life, chances are, mum is what she is for certain reasons. These reasons may not always be what she verbally reveals and by understanding the real ones, will you really know her. Sometimes by understanding a person better, the frustrations, disappointment and negative emotions diminish, as we learn to manage our own expectations about that person.
How do we know that our parents love us?
Sometimes, we wish our mum could show us more love. We expect that mothers should behave in certain ways because that’s how the media portrays them to be or because our friend’s mothers are like that. Perhaps, our mum’s do really love us but her language of love, the manner in which she expresses it is just not quite what we bargained for.
Gary Chapman wrote a book about the 5 languages of love. According to his theory each person has one primary and one secondary love language. The preferred love language shows the way a person would naturally give love and would like to receive love. We can observe a person’s love language from the way their express their care and concerns, and from the things they complain most about. Although the book was written mainly for couples, the 5 love languages can generally apply to most relationships. (Egbert, 2006)
The 5 love languages
Which is your mum’s preferred love language?
- Words of Affirmation – Mum would always verbally appreciate you and praise you when you do what she thinks is right.
- Acts of Service – Mum is always cooking your favourite food, cleaning up after you and rushing to school to hand you items that you forgot.
- Receiving Gifts – Mum would always have a little something for you when you’ve done well or when she comes back from shopping
- Quality Time – Mum would always put aside time to chat with you to find out how your day went.
- Physical Touch – Mum would always give you big hugs and cuddles.
If you have a mum that shows all 5 languages, you’ve got a really awesome mum! But it doesn’t mean that if your mum has only one love language that she loves you any less. Maybe that’s the only way she knows how to express love. To show her love in return, use the same love language that she prefers, as this is how she interprets love and concern.
Why do our parents behave that way?
So why is it that our mums don’t show love with all the other love languages? Often we learn to relate socially and express our care and love from observing other people, and from the behavior of our own family. One sure way to understand mum better is to sit down with her and ask her about her life. But you say you’ve heard it a million times over and all that nagging is tiring. But has she really told you her story or just the bits that she wants you to hear?
Sit down with her when she’s in a good mood and ask her about her growing up years. What her own family life was like and how they behaved towards her. She may have told you about the significant events in her growing up years many times, this time ask her deeper more reflective questions.
Ask her about those childhood experiences
- How did she feel going through those experiences and how she coped in the situations.
- Did her parents, particularly her mum, show her support and empathy when she went through challenging times.
- What did they say and do for her that helped her. And what she wished they had said and done for her.
- When she made mistakes, how did her mother react and how she felt about that reaction.
Ask her what her family talked about and what her parents talk to her about?
- How did they communicate their approval or disapproval .
- Were her parents expressive in showing different emotions, joy pain, hopes, fears.
- Were they accepting of her ideas, comments and choices and how she felt about their response.
- Did she share her feelings to her parents. Did they listen to her and how did they react.
Ask her what were some of the taboo topics in the family.
Ask her what were her aspirations, how she felt when they didn’t happen and how she coped with that disappointment.
Some times our parents may not take these questions very well and may react negatively. If it’s a hot button, then it’s best not to push it. At least you now know that those particular issues had a negative impact on your mum and it probably shaped some of her perception about life.
If the story has too much negative vibes and its getting you down, try reframing. Reframing what she says could give you a better picture of what she really means. Reframing is a method to help create a different way of looking at a situation, person or relationship by changing its meaning. By looking at a situation from a different angle and perspective, we may see positive values and avoid negative emotions and outcomes.
Everything that your mum went through in her life would have some influence on her parenting style. Do take note also about the way in which she coped with negative situations. Recognise her strengths and appreciate her for it.
Wish her a Happy Mothers Days !
Images by Freepiks