Vail Daily column: Evaluating your feelings about mom
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Visit http://www.vaildaily.com to read the first column in the series.
Here are a series of questions designed to assist you in evaluating how you feel about your mother. These questions come curtesy of Jasmin Lee Cori in her book “The Emotionally Absent Mother” (The Experiment Publications). Even if your mother is no longer alive, you may find these questions helpful in clarifying your feelings about her and your upbringing:
Do you feel pride about being your mother’s child?
Did you want to be like your mother –or did you want to be as different from her as possible? If someone said “You are so much like your mother,” would you like that?
Was your mother’s womb an inviting place? What did/does it feel like to be enveloped in your mother’s energy?
How connected do you feel to your mother, on a scale from 1 to 10? How has this changed throughout your life?
What are your early memories around physical contact with your mother? Was she your jungle gym or was there a “Keep Out” sign around her?
As a child, did you feel you were a part of your family? Did you feel bonded? Did you feel emotionally adrift?
Have you had feelings of being an orphan or a motherless child?
How did your mother respond to you as an infant or small child? A telltale clue about how your mother responded to you is how you feel about your own needs now. Are you respectful and attentive to your needs now? Do you hide them? Are you demanding? How you respond to your own needs most often parallels how your mother responded to them. Example: if you are demanding, perhaps being demanding was your only way of being heard as a child.
How did your mother tend to respond to other people’s needs? Was she attentive? Resentful? Competent? Gracious? Did people need to ask multiple times in order for her to respond?
Do you remember times when your mother provided reassurance or comfort when you were in distress? Did she help you through the hard times?
How available was she? How many other children was she also caring for? How attentive was she? Was she depressed or absorbed elsewhere?
Did your mother regulate her own emotions and keep them in a moderate range? Was she good at tending to her own needs?
Was your mother good at tuning in to your emotional states? Did she seem to care about them? Did she teach you how to constructively manage emotions without simply suppressing them? Did she model healthy expression of emotions?
As a child, did you feel loved by your mother? Was she able to show it, or was she limited in her ability to love or in showing love?
On a scale of 1 through 10, how nurturing was she to you? To others?
Do you feel that your mother saw the real you? Did she know you well enough to serve as a compass, recognizing when you were not being true to yourself?
What did your mother communicate through her facial expressions, her tone of voice, her choice of words, through affectionate touch, with how patient she was, with how friendly she was and with how present she was?
Do you believe that your mother had confidence in you? Can you think of a time when you needed more encouragement for something? What would you have liked for her to have said or done?
In what areas was your mother most engaged in mentoring you? Where did you need more help than you got? What attitudes were communicated through her help? (For example, that you were a bother, that she treasured you and wanted to help, that you could need assistance and still be deserving of respect, that you were a slow learner, that she enjoyed being a mother.)
Can you identify the ways she protected you? Did her way of protecting you feel caring? Comforting? Suffocating? Which ways did she not protect you? Did she teach you about protecting yourself effectively? What do you wish she had taught you about self-protection that she did not?
Is Mother where you turn(ed) for comfort and refueling? If not, do you think she would be there if you did? Do you remember her being there for you?
It should be stated that all parents are human, and nobody parents perfectly. But the above questions will hopefully give you a roadmap for evaluating how loved you felt growing up, and therefore how lovable you feel today.
Neil Rosenthal will be co-conducting a couple’s canoe trip on the Gunnison River in Southwest Colorado next August, titled “Being Closer.” For information and registration, call 720-283-0553. Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His syndicated column is in its 18th year of publication. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or e-mail him through his website http://www.heartrelationships.com.