Mother’s Day tips for 1) kids and teens 2) husbands 3) adult children with mothers still living and 4) mothers
For kids and teens:
Be kind to your mother. She deserves it. As Bill Cosby says, she brought you into this world and she can take you out of it. But beyond just the physical sacrifices she makes to give birth to you, she plays a major role in providing for your needs. Think of what you would do if you had no parents. Where would you eat? What would you eat? Who would buy your clothes? Who would wash and iron them? Who would buy your Ipod? Who would pay the fees for you to participate in activities you enjoy? The list of ways a mom provides for a child is long and endless.
Second, be trusting. Admittedly your job as a child of your mother is tough, especially as you grow older and into your teenage years. Most everything about you screams for you to explore your surroundings, do what you want to make you happy, find yourself, be independent. But please remember that your parents have been there before and all of the decisions they make in regards to your well being are made with the best of intentions.
Third, not all of the decisions they make will be the right ones. So be forgiving and be patient with your mother.
Finally, be loving. You have no idea how much it means to a mother when after you respond to her question of how your day was at school, you ask her how her day was. Leave her little notes that express your gratitude. Help around the house without being asked. Give your mom a hug.
Be attentive. Pay attention to your wives. Notice the work they do keeping your home in order, tending to your children, in their work.
And when you notice something, be grateful and complement them. Express your appreciation for what they do. Simple, regular, verbal reinforcement and encouragement can do wonders to boost the morale and spirit of a significant other.
And be attentive to your children. I went to a random mothers oriented website this week and posed the question on a forum. “If you could make one request to a man about how to treat a mother, what would it be?” The options were help clean the house, pay attention to the children, pay attention to me, or other” and they could describe their own suggestion.
This was certainly no scientific survey, as only five people responded. However, it was interesting to note that all five answered the same, pay attention to the children. One respondent made an additional comment. She said:
“By pay attention to the kids, I don’t mean just play with them. Rather, pay attention to if they are getting into something they shouldn’t, if they are hungry, if they need a diaper change, etc…I can’t stand when I’m busy and my husband asks me what he should feed our toddler. He’s an educated adult and should be able to open the fridge or pantry and whip up a snack. It’s not rocket science!”
Next, be willing to learn from others and improve in the way that you treat the mother of your children. Most of us probably adopted the parenting style of our parents. But no parents are perfect and we can always do better. And one way to improve is to watch others.
When my wife was pregnant the first of our four kids, the doctor set a day by which if she hadn’t gone into labor, then they would induce her. That day came and there was still no baby so we checked into the hospital around 9am and they initiated labor. Being our first experience with childbirth, I for one was excited and eager to be the loving husband who would be there to support and comfort his wife throughout the process, though the reality was I had no idea what that meant nor how to do it. And everything I was doing seemed to have the opposite effect and would irritate her.
However, the nurse in charge of taking care of my wife was sweet and kind and seemed to know exactly what to say, how to say it, how to put her at ease. She was very good. In fact, she was too good. She was doing all of the things that I thought I should be doing as the husband, which irritated me and forced me take a seat in the corner of the room to stay out of the way. Nonetheless, I was observant and learned a few tricks on how to properly care for the mother of my children during the birthing process.
Fortunately my opportunity would come again. As the contractions started getting closer and closer and things started to heat up, there was a shift change in nurses and another nurse was assigned to care for Kris. This nurse, however, was cold and very matter of fact. She often criticized my wife for not pushing correctly or at the wrong time and didn’t do much of anything to try to comfort her. That left me another chance to be the good husband. I wasn’t perfect. At one point I was fanning my wife’s face with a cold, wet rag but became distracted with what the doctor was doing down at the other end. My fan got too close and eventually started slapping her face. That almost got me sent back to the corner again, but I regained my focus, remembered the example the other nurse set, and was able to help her as much as a husband could as the baby was born.
Also husbands, watch other husbands and families. Note the positive ways in which they treat their wives and kids and find ways to incorporate them into the relationship with your family.
Be compassionate and understanding. When we were married I got a lot of advice from people on how to be a good husband and how to have a strong relationship. It was great advice but the best advice that I never got, actually came to me about a year after we were married. I grew up with two brothers but had no sisters. There are many lessons about the physical and emotional makeup of the female species that I didn’t learn until I was married. For example, I had heard this often before getting married but really had no idea how big of a deal it really is to a woman to put the toilet seat down after using the restroom.
A friend was telling me about his wedding and he said that one piece of advice he got was to remember that women are just different. That hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, that is so true and I was, and still am, learning it on the fly. Women are indeed from venus and men from mars. We think differently. We react different. So much of our mental and psychological makeup is different. As husbands we must understand that women will have many ups and downs in their day to day lives and that how they respond is probably not how we would respond.
Finally husbands, be loving. Think back to your courtship days and the things you did to win over her heart. If you’re not already, find ways to reincorporate that emotion back into your relationship.
Be available to your mothers. The song Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin epitomizes the importance of this. It’s about a father reminiscing about his relationship with his son.
The final verse goes like this:
I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu,
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad.
It’s been sure nice talking to you.”
Keep your mothers involved in your lives. Call them often. Visit them often if possible. Share with them the details of your lives. Just because you’ve moved on and are into a different phase of your life doesn’t mean mom still doesn’t need to be mom. That internal need mothers have to care for and be interested in their children’s lives doesn’t end when you move out of the house. Give them that chance to still be a mother.
My mother has had to call me to out on more than one occasion for this. They live close so it’s easy to think because of their close proximity that we can get together whenever we want, but the reality is that life still gets in the way and I don’t do as good a job as I should in being proactive and communicating often with my mom.
Be loving. Consider all that your mothers have ever done for you and find ways to return that love to them. I certainly feel honored to have my mother as my parent. She has always been and still is loving, kind, and supportive through all the stages of my life. And she’s done it under difficult circumstances, having gone through multiple bouts of cancer, starting about the time I was in 5th or 6th grade. I love her and know that I could do a better job of expressing my appreciation for all that she does for me and my family.
Be in the moment. Author Anna Quindlen said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
Also mothers, be loving. I don’t think there is a way to define what that means for everyone because everyone’s circumstances are different. But I do believe that each of us knows instinctively what it means in our own capacity and relationship with mothers. Follow that instinct. Mothers need it and deserve it often and regularly
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms.