Health & Medicine

In honor of our mothers

Let’s hear it for all the mothers! They’re the women performing the Herculean task of bearing and rearing the next generation. If we tallied the chores they perform in a routine day, the list would be longer than the minivan they drive to play dates, soccer tournaments and doctors appointments.

Unfortunately, many perfectly capable mothers feel inadequate about their parenting skills. They secretly harbor fears that they’re not doing enough for their tots. One devoted and competent mother of two confided to me, “I’m never satisfied with how I’m raising my children. I always feel that I should be doing something more.”

These sentiments aren’t based in reality. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true. The more capable and attentive the woman, the more prone she is to second guessing her maternal prowess.

This ongoing sense of deficiency creates concerns for these hyper-vigilant mothers. Moms often grapple with low self-esteem. They compare themselves to others who seem to be doing a better job, then conclude that they don’t measure up.

Mothers might be sad about their role in the family. Perhaps they view themselves as unworthy parents and even question whether they’re failing their kids.

These self-doubters strive to do more and more for their offspring. Even when they’re physically and emotionally exhausted, they have trouble saying no to their youngsters’ demands.

The cause of this phenomenon is complex. The media portrays calm, lovely mothers tending healthy, well-clad tykes with minimal effort. Normal parents can’t compete with the idyllic image and rightfully question, “What am I doing wrong?”

Conscientious mothers strive to solve all their children’s problems. In fact, they base their maternal report card on how well the kids are doing in sports, music and school.

But some problems aren’t easily resolved. Complicated, ongoing issues, such as asthma, allergies and dyslexia require constant attention and may never be completely fixed. Mothers who deal with them on a daily basis often feel as if they’re failures because they can’t make the problems go away.

Insensitive family members unwittingly stoke the fires of self-doubt. Husbands might criticize their wives’ parenting abilities. Older family members like to relate stories about their child-raising experiences that sometimes contradict with the strategies Mom’s putting into place.

Finally, mothers make easy targets whenever childhood problems are discussed. Every parenting concern can be linked to a failure at home. Moms seldom hear words of praise. Yet they’re frequently cited as the source of most evils.

Of course we all want to do what’s best for our children. And there are parents who fall woefully short of the mark. Still, my gift to mothers is to say, “You’re doing a fabulous job.” Sometimes your efforts seem woefully inadequate. You wish you were able to do more. But if your kids are loved and cared for, you’re probably doing enough. Your children have all the essentials. They’re lucky to call you Mom.

Tips for building mom-esteem

Moms, want to feel more confident about your parenting abilities? Try these ideas:

Know that you’re doing enough. Your children don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to be Mom of the Year. Give yourself a pat on the back and stop undermining your efforts.

Get support from other moms. Develop a network with women who have children the same ages as yours. You’ll be able to share information, support each other’s struggles and have frequent moms’ nights out.

Ask for help. Mothering isn’t a solo activity. There are times when you need a hand. Use the services of family, friends, neighbors and baby sitters.

Learn to say no. Parenting is an all-consuming job. It requires you to focus energies on what matters and forgo those that are second string. Don’t worry about hurting peoples’ feelings. Your family’s survival is on the line.

Men, be active parenting partners. Decide as a team which chores you’ll perform regularly. Be ever alert to new ways you can do your share.

Guys, remind your woman you think she’s terrific. Thank her for all she does in the family. Send compliments her way on a daily basis. She’ll feel cherished and adored. And you’ll be a great role model for your kids.