Whether you are recently pregnant or mixing up your days and nights with a newborn, you are just beginning the seasons of motherhood. Whether your kids are still in school or have grown up and left home, you are still in the midst of motherhood. Perhaps you have adopted or are fostering; you’re still a mother to those birds in your nest.
Being a parent to your children, no matter their age, transforms who you are and reshapes your identity. There are 5 types of mothers…which type are you? It’s all about me, unpredictable, best friend, perfectionist, or complete? (While you’re reading, you will probably discover who your mom is, too! And maybe your mother-in-law. Possibly you best friend, too!)
Type #1: It’s all about me.
The Mother: As you can tell from the title, a me-first mother is self-centered. This is usually the result of insecurities and the desire to be recognized. The trigger that yells, “It’s all about me” is the constant use of “I” and continually managing to bring the conversation back to Mom.
Impact on your Kids: Kids of a me-first mama learn that life is about making and keeping Mom as the center of attention. She is supposed to be recognized and allowed to shine. These children typically doubt their abilities to make decisions because they never know how the “it’s all about me” mom will respond or if her opinion will supercede their own. However, your children will be supportive, loyal, and encouraging to others, as well as talented problem solvers.
Examples of the “It’s all about me” Mother:
Scenario: Your child receives an A on their recent book project.
“It’s all about me” Response: You congratulate your daughter but remind her that you helped her earn an A.
Appropriate Response: “Great job! You worked so hard to earn that grade.”
Scenario: You ask your son to put his backpack in his room. He grunts, “Okay” and proceeds to pick up his backpack to put it away.
“It’s all about me” Response: You instantly reply, “I do so much around here and you can’t pick up your backpack. You should be grateful that I don’t make you do more.”
Appropriate Response: “Thank you for obeying.” (Your son’s negative attitude can be addressed after a few successful responses in this scenario. For example, use the appropriate response for 5 days in a row, and then add on, “I hope that next time you can respectfully obey without any grunts.”)
Type #2: Unpredictable
The Mother: The unpredictable mama is completely overwhelmed by her moods and emotions. How she parents is dependent upon her current mental and emotional state. Often she creates issues in her mind and brings those problems to life (even though they aren’t always reality). To sum up an unpredictable mother in one word: chaotic.
Impact on your Kids: Kids don’t thrive in chaos. Plus it’s difficult for children of an unpredictable mother to understand reality since much of the problems that arise are not rooted in reality. These children may be overcome with strong emotions such as depression, anxiety or anger. They develop the skills to read people and understand emotional situations, which fosters a sense of empathy. They tend to be a strong pillar of emotional support and motivating to others.
Examples of the Unpredictable Mother:
Scenario: Child is quiet at the dinner table.
Unpredictable mother response: “I had a terrible day at work and your brother is sick. Why are you so quiet? Oh, I forgot about the bread in the oven…now it’s burned! Honey, something bad must have happened at school to make you so quiet. Tell me what’s going on. Wait, I forgot to check on your brother.”
Appropriate Response: “I notice that you’re quiet. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” Focus on your child and try your best to set aside distractions, such as what’s in the oven or reflecting over you rough day at work.
Type #3: Best Friend
The Mother: The best friend mother is not superior over her children. Instead, both are equal, which helps avoid relational conflict. In true best friend fashion, emotions and secrets are expressed from mother to child and from child to mother. In essence, the best friend mother relies on her child to meet her emotional needs, which is leaving her child motherless. Being unable to embrace motherhood is the top symptom of a best friend mother.
Impact on your Kids: When your mom happens to be a best friend mother, you feel emotionally neglected, which may manifest as a fear of rejection, feeling unloved, or believing that you’re under-appreciated in other relationships. Despite those burdens, these kids develop strong boundaries with colleagues and naturally assume leadership roles.
Examples of the Best Friend Mother:
Scenario: Mom feels rejected by one of her friend and wants to talk with teenage daughter about it.
Best friend mother response: “I just have to tell you what happened with Kathy today. (Insert 5 minute story here, including all the details about Kathy’s facial expressions and how this scenario makes her feel).”
Appropriate response: “I had a hard conversation with one of my friend’s today, which made me sad. But I plan to talk with her about it again tomorrow. How have your friendships been lately? (Or ask about a specific friendship.)”
Scenario: Son got into a fight with a friend at school.
Son: “I just got so mad after he was taunting me, so I just punched him.”
Best friend mother response: “Tell me exactly what he said to you…Gosh I can’t believe he said those things! You did the right thing. I would have hit him, too. What happened after you hit him?” (Best friend mother continues to evoke gossip and encourage her son that he did the right thing.)
Appropriate response: “Can you please explain again what happened?” Address what your son handled well, how he reacted poorly (such as hitting his friend in anger), and how he could remedy the situation (like apologizing to his friend and seeking resolution).
Type #4: Perfectionist
The Mother: A perfectionist mother will do anything that it takes to appear perfect. But achieving a perfect image is like being an actress on the stage; a lot occurs behind the curtain that the general public doesn’t see. The backstage of a perfectionist mother is filled with manipulation, control, anxiety and fear. Underneath the perfect actress is a woman who is hypercritical, feels inadequate, and is emotionally vacant.
Impact on your Kids: The children of a perfectionist mother are hard workers, reliable, and persistent. In spite of those qualities, their identity is based on the opinions of others. They also assume that they are actors on the stage, with other people constantly watching and judging them.
Examples of the Perfectionist Mother:
Scenario: The family is at a restaurant waiting to be seated at a table. The children are getting whiny, restless, and hungry.
Perfectionist mother response: “You need to sit still in your seat like a proper child. People will stare at you if you continue to whine and cry. I don’t care that you’re hungry; that isn’t an excuse to act this way. If you stay in your seat and stop crying, I’ll let you order dessert.”
Appropriate response: “I know that you’re hungry, but we will be seated soon. Why don’t we play a game while we wait?”
Scenario: Another family has come over to your home for dinner.
Perfectionist mother response: “Thank you! It was no trouble to prepare this (lavish) meal for you. Yes look at my child’s report card on the fridge (all A’s). And those flowers on the table are from my husband; he brought them for me the other day.” But you do not inform your guests that the meal too 4 hours to prepare, that you practically earned your child’s high grades through excessive studying and over-the-top projects, and that the flowers are an “I’m sorry” gift from your husband. And naturally, you do not show them the laundry room which is piled high with junk.
Appropriate response: “Thank you. It took a long time to prepare dinner, but I knew that we would enjoy it together.” Authenticity is the key to responding appropriately, instead of hiding the unperfect areas of life.
Type #5: Complete
The Mother: The mother is balanced. She accepts and expresses her emotions in healthy manners. She recognizes her and her children as independent personalities. She accepts the role of motherhood and doesn’t cover up her imperfections. The complete mother is the perfect blend.
Impact on your Kids: Your children know and trust that they are loved by you. They can fully embrace life without fear, accept others and engage in healthy relationships. Plus the children of a complete mother are able to lead an emotionally independent lifestyle.
Examples of the Unpredictable Mother:
Scenario: The first day of school. Child is able to leave mom in the morning because of a healthy attachment (trusting that mom will be there after school). The child interacts with other students and feels confident about his/her abilities in the classroom. When the child returns home, they are excited to tell their mother about their day, knowing that she will listen and encourage.
Which type of mother are you?
Was it obvious which type of mother you are? Could you pick out your own mom? Let me guess, you can tell which type your best friend, aunt, boss, and neighbor are.
If you’re satisfied with your motherhood, keep on loving your kiddos! If you’re a little shocked at where you find yourself, that’s okay! Find one thing that you can change today. One step at a time, one day at a time, you’ll progress to be the mother that you desire.
May I suggest that you start by genuinely asking your child, “How are you?” and ending the conversation with, “I love you so much!”