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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Is There Such A Thing As Negative Inspiration?

This post is in response to the following question posed on World Mom’s Blog:  “Share with us those aspects of mothering, that inspire you. It could be from the women in your own community/culture or from your own mother/mother-in-law/grandmother/other relatives.”

I remember the moment vividly.  My 12 year old self sitting on the floor of my bedroom crying bitterly over the latest unfair and undeserved punishment I’d received.  After several minutes of heartbroken sobbing, I experienced a moment of clarity.  This was the moment when I started consciously taking mental notes of what I would never put my children through!  I called it my “little black book” and it helped me deal with the next 5 years until I left home.  From that moment on, instead of getting upset, I’d “take note” in my mental book & I’d “file it away” for future reference.

I’m 43 years old now and I can honestly say that I’m grateful for what I experienced as a child.  Thanks (at least in part) to my mental notes, I have an excellent relationship with my teenage children!

I’d like to share a few of the things I learnt which I feel contributed to the loving and mutually respectful relationship I enjoy with my husband and children:

  • Be Honest and Admit Your Mistakes – we’re all human and we do, at least occasionally, lash out in anger and / or frustration.  Be the person you’d like your children to be and acknowledge it if you acted or reacted badly.  Trust me, your children will respect you more if you’re able to do that!
  • Set a Good Example – children will do what you do and not what you say!  Children will not respect a hypocrite, so be a person of your word.
  • NEVER “lable” your child – we’re all human beings and we all have our share of both positive and negative traits.  My father teased me about being fat even when, objectively,` (according to photographic evidence) I was NOT!  This led me to feeling fat and eventually becoming fat for real!! (I’m now approx 30kg heavier than I should be – but don’t feel any fatter than I did when I was 30kg thinner!!).  By the same token, if you tell your children that they’re “stupid” they’ll live up to your expectations!
  • Keep your Promises – never promise what you can’t or won’t deliver.  This erodes the trust that your children have in you.  Rather under promise and over deliver!
  • Be Consistent – NOTHING is worse for your growing child’s self-esteem than not having consistent rules and boundaries.  My biggest problem growing up was “walking on eggshells” – since the “rules” weren’t consistent I was always afraid of getting into trouble!

I feel I was “inspired” to become the mother I am today, by learning what didn’t work, first hand!

Did you have any experiences that, though distressing at the time, ended up teaching you a valuable lesson?