The Good Mother, Part 2

Mothers tend to reach back to the past to see what worked for them, said Zax, co-author of “Mending the Broken Bough: Restoring the Promise of the Mother-Daughter Relationship” (Berkley Books, 1998, $13). “Each generation does the best job they can,” she said, “based largely on how they were Some Eye-Opening Statistics on Mothers Today
What are mothers doing and who is minding the kids? parented themselves.”

If you find you are judging yourself harshly, however, stop before you get out your cat o’ nine tails to flail away, she said. It’s not your fault if things are not going the way you expected. Look at the context you are in: who you are, what your kids are like and what is going on around you. It is likely that it doesn’t look anything like someone else’s standard, or even your own childhood.

On a scale that surpasses anything you and your parents went through, today’s families are being hit with the fallout from fast technology, high expectations and too many choices, said Ronni Eisenberg, an expert in how to be organized.

A Westport, Conn.-based author of several books, including “Organize Your Home” (Hyperion, 1999, $9.95), Eisenberg said you can get your family to the point where you achieve a sense of balance for yourself. She should know. She’s raising a teen-ager and 8-year-old twins while running workshops and managing a consulting business.

But even if you can teach your kids the how tos of laundry and table-setting, Getting Organized
Ronni Eisenberg is the mother of three children and the co-author of a series of how-to-get-organized books, including “Organize Your Home” (Hyperion, 1999, $9.95). Mothers have so much to do today, they need to get organized to get it all done, she said.

can you get them to do it?

Absolutely, said Sal Severe of Phoenix, Ariz. A school psychologist and husband whose wife works full time, Severe is the father of four children, ages 3 months to 22 years. He said he gets plenty of firsthand experience in what makes kids tick. The most challenging age? “Adolescence, clearly,” he said.

The author of “How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too!” (Greentree, 1997, $21.95), Severe said the good news is that fathers are much more involved these days with child-rearing. He identifies three approaches for mothers and fathers who are dealing with kids of any age: consistency, patience and practice.

“Discipline is everything we do to teach our children,” said Severe. “It’s not a punishment.” The way to start making changes is to be aware of what needs to be done differently, make the commitment to change and then start doing it. “But don’t expect perfection,” he said.

Nor should you feel you have to compensate for being away 40 to 50 hours a week by giving children whatever they want. “Personally, I don’t think it works,” he said. What does work is to give kids limits that they understand, Some Mothers’ Helpers

help them practice, and then let them know if they got it right.

When mothers think their role is to manage their children’s behavior, an unfortunate thing happens, said Ann Tremaine Linthorst, a licensed family therapist from Orange, Calif., who practices pyscho-spiritual therapy. “Mothers tend to focus on what they don’t like, and not to notice what they do like,” she said.

“This gives rise to the Frankenstein principle: Paying attention to what you don’t like in another person’s behavior tends to create monsters on both sides of the seeing.”

Linthorst is the mother of two grown sons and the author of “Mothering as a Spiritual Journey: Learning to Let God Nurture Your Children and You Along with Them” (Crossroad Publishing, 1993, $12.95). She calls for mothers to stay connected to higher values like creativity, harmony and vitality and use them as a basis for going with their best sense of things. “Mothering is not nearly so much what we do for and to our children as it is how we think about them,” she said.

Even if it seems like every step of the way — from bringing home the first baby to saying goodbye to the last child leaving home — feels like a crisis, Linthorst said, “You can use it as an opportunity for learning and for spiritual growth.”

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