The Best of Moms
There is a lot of talk about dysfunctional moms: those who harm their children, fail to parent, or even over parent. But not so much attention is paid to those moms who are excellent. Some are capable by instinct, others have good modeling from other moms, and others learn from the mistakes of others.
These moms pay attention to the developmental stages of their children and mold their parenting to meet their child’s needs. They successfully navigate through joy and sadness as their child passes to another stage in life. Most importantly, these moms know how to care for their child without depleting their own emotional resources. It is a delicate balance and one worth striving to achieve.
Erik Erkson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development serves as a parenting guideline. Please note that these stages will be discussed from a maternal perspective due to the nature of the article. It is not meant to diminish the value of fathers or other caregivers.
- Trust vs. Mistrust (Birth to 1 year). During this year, the mother forms a strong positive attachment to their child through meeting the child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. A child is unable to care for themselves so it is extremely important that the mother meet all of their needs. This instills a sense of hope in the years to come.
- Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt (1 – 3 years). These years are marked by a child’s desire to experiment and try new things such as walking, talking, potty training, and eating solid foods. A mother who allows a child to progress without over protecting develops resolve in the child. Stage one and two are a sharp contrast from meeting all of the child’s needs to allowing the child to meet some of their own needs.
- Initiative vs. Guilt (3 – 5 years). The pre-school years are ones of learning large motor skills such as riding a tricycle, getting dressed without assistance, and throwing a ball. There is a quite of bit of imaginative play where the child makes up the rules and purpose of the activity. Mothers who delight in the child’s imagination help to foster creativity. Trying to coddle the child, as was possible in previous stages, frustrates them.
- Industry vs. Inferiority (5 – 12 years). These are the best years for education as a child’s brain is similar to a sponge. They are able to take in volumes of information and regurgitate it when questioned. Mothers who stimulate learning develop competent children who are unafraid of their abilities. While answering all of the “why” questions may be exhausting, these moms realize the value of poring information into their child.
- Identity vs. Confusion (12 – 18 years). At the beginning of this stage is the development of critical thinking skills. This is usually a difficult adjustment for most moms as they are no longer one of the greatest influences in their child’s life. But the best of moms appreciate and encourage their child to challenge their beliefs knowing that this process leads to a fully formed sense of self and fidelity. This is why the teen years are so troubling for many families who do not work toward this goal.
- Intimacy vs. Isolation (18 – 30 years). Without a strong sense of identity, it is impossible to achieve intimacy with another person. As the now adult child matures, it is natural for them to pull away even further. Unfortunately, in the American culture today, the previous stage is often extended unnaturally well into the twenties. Mothers who focus on proper development find ways to encourage their adult child to leave the nest.
- Generativity vs. Stagnation (30 – 60 years). This stage and the next cannot be taught; rather they are modeled by their mother. These moms live a life of individual development, professional advancement, and community generosity. They demonstrate a strong work ethic while striving to understand their adult child’s vocation. There is no comparing between siblings, just an appreciation for each adult child’s unique path.
- Integrity vs. Despair (60 – death). With age comes wisdom and these moms are willing to share their kernels of truth and insight. They are available to their adult child providing guidance only when asked. They are not judgmental of their adult child’s choices but find areas of pride and joy in their accomplishments.
The best of moms master these skills and help to rise up another successful generation. They deserve appreciation and thanks for their efforts.
Christine Hammond is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a National Certified Counselor who lives in Orlando and is the award-winning author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook.
Hammond, C. (2017). The Best of Moms. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2017, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2017/05/the-best-of-moms/