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15 Questions to Ask Your Mom This Mother’s Day

Birth2Work Staff, mother

Bzzz … No Thank You Table

Whenever my son knocks into something and hurts himself, we play a little game of “putting the pain back.” If he falls down or crashes into something, I wait for his reaction to judge the severity. If tears start flowing (assuming this is a mild injury) then I huddle down close with him, touch the spot where he is injured and say, “Are you OK? Let’s put the pain back.” Then I gently push on the injured spot with my hand and then touch whatever it was he injured himself on (the ground, the table, the tree root, whatever it was). When I touch the offending item, I also say “Bzzzzzz. No thank you. Take the pain back.” Then I repeat the buzzing and the thank-yous until he stops crying. As a toddler he does it himself now without me even instigating it. I know it’s malarkey. It’s just a distraction. But it works for us. It’s appropriate to do when I know he’s more emotionally stunned than physically hurt.

My mother did the same thing for me and my sister when we were young. I have absolutely no idea where she came up with this little tradition. But it’s something she did that both of her daughters remembered and loved so much that we continue to do it with our own children.

All That Delicious Beef in the Trash

So much of what we do as parents comes from what feels like intuition. Some of it is intuition, but most of our gut reactions are based unconsciously on what we first learned about that topic or situation—what was modeled for us. Some things like my “put the pain back” example we just do out of habit because that’s what our parents did and we never really questioned the reasoning behind it.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the story about chopping the ends  the roast. Though there are many variations out there, the quick version is that a woman is preparing a roast for dinner and chops off the perfectly good end pieces before putting it in the oven. Her husband observes this and asks why she would do such a thing. “That’s what my mom did,” she explains. Mom calls the next day to see how things are and the daughter asks, “Why did you always cut the ends off the roast?” “That’s what my mom always did,” she replies. Mom calls her mother and asks, “Why did you always cut the ends off the roast?” “My pan was too small!” she exclaims. 

What’s the Real Story?

Are there any examples of that type of rote behavior in your life as a parent? Things you do because that’s how your mother did them but you don’t really know why? I’m going to go ask my mother about the buzzing story. Try these 15 questions with your own mother or grandmother or whoever raised you. Have your partner do the same, then share the answers. You will most certainly be surprised.

Having a solid understanding of where your “parenting intuition” and expectation of parenthood comes from is one of the first topics we cover in the Leading Your Child to Success course. As in all of our discussions of how to be a family leader, first knowing why you do something helps you make an informed and thoughtful decision about how or whether to pass on that family value, recipe, or other tradition to your own children.

Questions for Mom

  1. Did you always expect to have a family when you were growing up?
  2. What was your relationship with your parents like? How has it changed?
  3. What was something you liked about the way you were raised that you wanted to do for your children?
  4. Was there anything you promised yourself you wouldn’t do?
  5. When did you know (if ever) you were ready to be a mom?
  6. What was it like to be a stay-at-home mom (or working mother) when you were raising me/us?
  7. (If a father was present): Did you and Dad ever talk about what kind of parents you wanted to be?
  8. What did you and Dad disagree about in raising me/us?
  9. What was your relationship like with your grandmother?
  10. Did you always (ever?!) get along with your mother-in-law?
  11. What surprised you in your first year of motherhood?
  12. (If she had more than one child): What was different in your expectations of having another baby?
  13. Were you excited to become a grandma?
  14. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
  15. Would you like some more wine?

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