Thursday, 13 May 2021 14:37

The Good Enough Mother: Becoming the Parent You Needed

By Meghan Lemery Fritz, LCSW-R | Families Today
The Good Enough Mother: Becoming the Parent You Needed

Having just celebrated Mother’s Day this past weekend many individuals can feel a mix of dread, sadness, regret and pain. Mother’s Day can trigger a traumatic pain response if you have/had a difficult, complex relationship with your Mother.

Our first introduction into the world comes through our Mothers. Whether we feel safe, secure and valued starts the minute we are born as early attachment forms.  If this attachment is not formed in a healthy way, we can spend our adult lives trying to heal from something that feels incurable.

As we grow into adolescence and adulthood, the inner voice that we develop that governs how we think and feel models the voice of the parent we had the most conflict with.  If you had an overly critical, difficult to please Mother or Mother figure in your life, the inner voice you have will model that criticism and judgement to yourself and everyone around you.

The only way to heal from the inside out and move past poor parent attachment is to become the parent you wanted and needed.  For example, if every Mother’s Day you try to please your difficult Mother by sending cards, spending time with her, visiting her home and then feeling a giant emotional hangover from your time together, it’s time to let the healthy parent step in and offer some guidance and support.

This starts by becoming the parent you needed as a young child. For example, instead of spending another holiday trying to please your difficult parent, you stop and pause. How would I protect my younger self in this situation? You have to begin to work on forming a healthy bond and attachment with your spirit, heart and soul and begin to set the boundaries you didn’t have as a child.

When I work with individuals who have complicated relationships with their mother, the question I get the most is, “Isn’t that so mean, I mean this person is my mother, don’t I owe her?” 

No doubt guilt can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate; however, when you abandon yourself to please a difficult parent, you continue the cycle of dysfunction and pass the baton down to the next generation.

The most wonderful, healthy gift you can give yourself every single day when the sun comes up is to be the parent you wanted and needed. This means taking care of yourself in the small basic ways, healthy food, water, rest. It also means taking care of yourself in the more emotionally complex ways as well.  You would never want your child around a dysfunctional person so why continue to put yourself in toxic situations at the hopes of pleasing an impossible to please person?

The key to healing is to start with you. Don’t spend another Mother’s Day feeling guilty, stressed out, angry. Stop the cycle today and start to be the Mother you wanted and needed yourself TODAY and EVERY DAY.

You are worth it!

Meghan Lemery Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing teletherapy at Fritz, Stanger & Associates.  For more information visit www.fritzstanger.com

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