I saw a parenting “expert” on the Today Show this morning. (Full disclosure, I didn’t actually see him on the show but saw the segment online after it aired.) One Dr. Sophy, a person of the male persuasion, was advising mothers and daughters about how to get along. Simply put, it just pissed me off. First, REALLY PRODUCERS? You couldn’t find an actual mother or daughter who knows something about the subject? Yes, he’s a degreed and trained professional and no, I’m not a person who likes to gender stereotype and contend that men can’t understand women’s issues and vice versa. (Because I know they can. I am sometimes married to one. Well, I’m always married to one and sometimes he gets everything right.) But, in this case, where the issue is the gossamer-like (re: fragile and beautiful) relations between mothers and daughters, PLEASE bring in someone who has “been there and done that.”
Here’s how I know this guy wasn’t the real deal. First, he described mothers and daughters as sometimes “mortal enemies.” Yes, he said they go from that to friends quickly but he used the term “mortal enemies.” Okay, folks, I admit it — I have fought with my offspring. When they were little they frequently got on my last nerve. Truth be told, even in adulthood we’ve been known to drive each other crazy. We’ve raised voices, we’ve hung up the phone mad, we may have even spoken none too politely about each other to anyone who would listen. BUT, we would not, could not, should not, categorize ourselves as mortal enemies. Fight to the death with your child? I think not, and don’t think there are too many women who’d describe their child in that light.
Next, he said that moms and daughters are both “estrogenic.” Yes, I get it and I understand what he meant but I can’t stand the implication (inference? I can never remember the difference.) that it all comes down to hormones. I have no patience for men who think every up and down in a woman’s life is hormonal and can simply be explained away by the time of the month, and not getting to the heart of the matter to fix it. If your boss at work said that you were “estrongenic” when you voiced an opinion or asked for a raise or questioned a policy, would that be okay? No, and it’s not okay to say the mom/daughter dynamic — the complex, intertwined, gorgeous, deep, abiding, and mysterious bind — owes its being to the fickle finger of hormones.
Nope, I’m afraid it’s going to take more than that to counsel mothers and daughters through the deep waters in which we wade. I’m going to start here with my top 3 suggestions for seeing your girls successfully into adulthood. Then, I’m going to ask the experts — my actual daughters — to weigh in with their thoughts. Then, I invite readers, again, actual mothers and daughters, to add to the list. Perhaps we can develop something more in-depth than “estrogenic” and maybe longer-lasting than hormones.
1. Unconditional love has to be exactly what it says. Love them because they are. Do not fill in the blank. And, make sure they know the love is unconditional. They may not grow up to be who you want them to be. Their definition of happiness may not match yours. Let that go and have some faith in the core you planted inside of them.
2. Listen more than you talk. Yow, that one’s hard. I’m still working on it. I know I have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Sometimes I have to repeat that inside my head while I bite my lip.
3. Be the mother you wish you had.
Oh and a bonus one. If your opinion of what’s right is not the same as an “expert’s,” go with your gut. It got you this far.
Can I have another wedding? God I love the way I look in that dress. Anyway, I am so tired of men trying to say tha women are hormonal or annoying because we actually have opinions or the nerve to speak up for ourselves. I am capable of things that no man can do-hell- no other person can do. I am so sick of men out there trying to tell me what I can and can’t do. I once had this extremely tooly guy complain to me about how he worked in business. He proceeded to tell me that he hated working with women because all they did was cry. Not only was this an ignorant thing to say, but it was also a bad pick up line. I wanted to tell him it was no mysetry to me why he was single. But I digress, three things it takes to be an amazing mom.
1. To know what I want even when I don’t. I don’t mean telling me what to do, I mean having the ability to help me sort through my feelings to get my own conclusion.
2. Loving me no matter what, whether I am fat or thin, happy or sad lost or found.
3. Always being willing to listen and only hanging up on me 10 percent of the time.
It’s not rocket science but it’s what I’ve got so far.
I saw that guy on the Today Show online and I wasn’t impressed. I think my wife has better ideas about raising kids and so do I, plus we have the kids to prove it. Where’s our Today Show interview and book deal? I think the hormone thing is a big cop-out and I lived with four females. They all seemed kind of level-headed and I’m moodier than all of them. He did say that there is a competitive factor between mothers and daughters (and it probably holds for fathers and sons as well) and that is an interesting point. I don’t see that in my family but that might be something to discuss in another post. Here’s my three important points for parents to keep in mind when raising their children.
1. Make sure your children know you love them and support them. That’s obvious. Each one of my girls thinks they are my favorite and they are all right. That’s a state secret.
2. Be honest with your kids. I don’t worry about it if my kids are mad at me for speaking the truth even when it hurts a bit and when I’m wrong I apologize. But believe me that’s rare. And see point number 1 above.
3. I try to parent from my children’s eyes. What do they think of me as a parent? Am I a good role model for them? I hope so. Their opinions are important to me especially now that they are adults. I think am a much better parent now than when I was younger probably because I’m more patient. Right kids?
Now I have to shower and wait for the call from Meredith Viera.
My eye is twitching from a lack of sleep, so this is going to be short. No, I do not think daughters are anyone’s mortal enemy. You’re lucky if you have one that’s half as good as I am. Also, boys are moodier than girls, I don’t care what anyone says, they just mask it with their low voices and lack of crying.
I’m certainly not a parenting expert. I am not a parent, nor an expert, but here are my 3:
1. Never hang up on me. It is annoying and you know I’m going to keep calling back until you answer, so it’s a lose lose.
2. Have a sense of humor, even when things suck. It definitely helps.
3. Be a parent. I have a large circle of friends (haha), but we only get 2 parents (if we’re lucky), so be them, even if it seems like it would be more fun to be friends. It’s not supposed to be fun necessarily, it’s called “parenting” not “fun times with your pals”.
1. Find a balance between being a friend and a parent. There are a lot of things I do with my friends that I don’t do with my parents, but as an adult, I’ve found there are a lot of things I can share with them. My father and I like to share music, and have serious discussions about education and politics. My mom and I have come to share recipes (which I never thought would happen), and of course shoe shopping. Yes, I do get annoyed when my parents call me 4 times in one day just to say hello and to ask if I’m shoveling the walkway, but I’m guilty of calling them for no reason myself, shhh.
2. The unconditional love thing is pretty important. Make sure your kids know that even though you might get angry, you’re always going to love them even if they got in a minor car accident (in your car), or throw a high school party (in your house), or even have a run in with the law. All hypothetical situations of course.
3. Finally, stop posting ugly pictures of them on the internet. Why do I have such a huge head in the photo above?
P.S. I am definitely Dad’s favorite.
P.P.S. No Alexis, you cannot have another wedding. We all barely survived the first one.