I am the mother of 3 daughters.
I was 19 years old when I had my first daughter, 28 years old when I had my second daughter, and 38 years old when I had my third daughter. To say that my parenting style varied from child to child is an understatement. With my first child, I spent no time thinking about how my emotional and mental well-being played a significant role in how I parented. Remember, I was 19 years old when she was born. And while I was a rather responsible 19-year-old, I was still in the developmental stages myself. I focused on establishing a career and providing opportunities for my daughter to blossom through exposure. I took it for granted that she understood my deep love for her.
Maturity, life experiences, and my natural curiosity led to an evolution that began when my middle daughter was between middle and high school.
I realized that in addition to basic provisions and opportunities, I had to spend some time focusing on my emotional and mental well-being if I truly wanted to succeed at parenting. Of course, this epiphany did not lead to an overnight transformation. What I can say is I know that my willingness to acknowledge that my emotional and mental well-being mattered greatly led to what I believe was a much better space for my girls to receive what they needed from me as a mother. Keyword, BETTER! Not perfect, but BETTER! And we are okay with that.
I think the Red Table Talk episode, How Destructive Mothers Damage Their Daughters: Could This Be You? is a must-see for all women navigating the world of being a mommy to daughters!
It might be good to watch it on your own so that you can take it in without feeling judged. I was able to freely go through a wide range of emotions as I watched and thought about my experiences as both a mother and a daughter. Once you have had an opportunity to take it in, share it with your daughters if they are older. My 13-year-old would think I am having a mental breakdown if I made her watch this.
Here were my takeaways:
- There are three key things that girls need from their mothers.
- When I was raising my first daughter, I was not ready to defrost the grief that came from me growing up in an extremely abusive home (my mother being abused at the hands of my father). That impacted my parenting.
- Although my parents provided for me, I did not feel nurtured or protected when I was a little girl. My mother was not nurtured as a little girl. My grandmother was not nurtured as a little girl.
- A daughter’s need for her mother does not magically end when she reaches adulthood. Daughters always need their mothers.
- Damage can be undone!
- I need to get a copy of Mother Hunger: How Adult Daughters Can Understand and Heal From Lost Nurturance, Protection, and Guidance.
Healing and growth are ongoing processes. We should always be open to it!