Testing Your Mother Factor (True or False)
Throughout our lives, both men and women struggle with issues that arise from our mother factor.
When you become aware of the realities versus the misconceptions about your mother's role in your life, you are much more likely to recognize how your unconscious feelings affect your personal and professional relationships. This will enable you to take constructive action. By understanding your own mother factor, you will begin to increase your level of personal and professional satisfaction, and thus begin to maximize your potential.
The following true/false statements address some of the more common misunderstandings, blind spots and denials concerning mothers and their impact on daughters and sons.
Read each statement below, make note of your answer, and then look at the answer key to determine your level of understanding about you and your mother. These questions aren't designed to measure your mother factor I.Q. but rather to start a discussion within yourself about the impact of your mother on your life, past, present and future. It is important to recognize common themes of your mother-child relationship in order to increase your awareness of how your mother's words and actions have shaped your life and how they continue to do so today.
- Fathers and mothers serve the same role in raising their children.
- Children can only learn their "emotional intelligence" — the ability to have empathy, understanding, and insight into other's actions — from their own adult life experiences. Their mothers don't play an important role in this process.
- Biological mothers have more influence on their daughters/sons than stepmothers or other non-biological mother figures.
- Women and men can overcome a traumatic mother-child past and develop their own positive "mother factor" model.
- Mothers affect their sons and daughters for their entire lives.
- It is almost impossible for women and men to learn anything of value from mothers they hate/don't respect — past or present.
- It isn't necessary for girls' and boys' emotional development to have a positive relationship with their mother.
- Once men and women reach a certain age or level of success, they don't want or need their mother's approval.
- Usually the emotional and mental wounds people suffered as kids will prevent them from being productive, highly functional adults.
- Even when they're quite young, children pay close attention to their mother's attitudes and behavior in regard to their father, family relationships, work and communication.
- Verbal abuse by your mother is much less harmful than physical abuse.
- While some people seem to have come to terms with a negative mother-child relationship, they are in fact usually pressure cookers beneath the surface.
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Source: Dr. Stephan B. Poulter
- Fathers and mothers serve the same role in raising their children.
Children can only learn their "emotional intelligence" — the ability to have empathy, understanding, and insight into other's actions — from their own adult life experiences. Their mothers don't play an important role in this process.
- False. Each parent serves an invaluable but distinct role in a child's development. Mothers serve as role models for how we relate to our world emotionally, mentally and physically. A mother is the female balance to a father's influence.
Biological mothers have more influence on their daughters/sons than stepmothers or other non-biological mother figures.
- False. This argument dismisses the invaluable role a mother has in developing and shaping her child's emotional intelligence, relationship potential and communication styles. Mothers are part of every adult's psychological profile and are a timeless influence regardless of the quality of the relationship. A mother has a role in a child's life that is special and transforming throughout his or her life.
Women and men can overcome a traumatic mother-child past and develop their own positive "mother factor" model.
- True. Mothering is not limited to biology. The term stepmother is a legal term, but in a relational context, the prefix "step" has little bearing on a woman's true effectiveness as a mother. A mother figure, whether biological or not, will have a tremendous impact and influence on a child's upbringing. It is also possible that more than one person — a biological mother and a stepmother — can have a big impact on a child's life and his direction.
Mothers affect their sons and daughters for their entire lives.
- True. Not having a mother or having a strained relationship with a mother does not necessarily sentence you to repeat the past or continue the negative legacy. Your ability to understand rather than blame your mother is one of the keys to personal and professional success, and the more you comprehend, the better able you will be to implement change in your life.
It is almost impossible for women and men to learn anything of value from mothers they hate/don't respect — past or present.
- True. Much as you may wish to deny it, your mother factor will continue to influence you, one way or another, for your lifetime.
It isn't necessary for girls' and boys' emotional development to have a positive relationship with their mother.
- False. It is quite possible to move emotionally beyond your anger, lack of respect, and hatred of your mother. Analyzing the mother-child relationship can yield valuable insights that will help make you a better parent, partner, supervisor, friend and person. These insights can help you make the necessary adjustments in personal relationships and move to the next level in your life.
Once men and women reach a certain age or level of success, they don't want or need their mother's approval.
- False. Some young children seem as if they do not need their mothers, especially in the wake of a bitter divorce or a sudden remarriage. They may appear to be so independent, or so close to their fathers, that they foster the illusion that a relationship with their mother is of no particular consequence. In reality, every child seeks and needs an emotional bond with his or her mother. Denying this natural impulse creates a void, one that will play itself out in various areas of an adult's life. People who dismiss this natural emotional phenomenon may also be in denial about the need to build strong relationships with family members, partners, friends and colleagues.
Usually the emotional and mental wounds people suffered as kids will prevent them from being productive, highly functional adults.
- False. Regardless of our age, we all desire our mother's approval. Approval-seeking is part of our psychological wiring and a naturally occurring mother-child dynamic. Unfortunately, many people never received that approval/love while growing up — or received it rarely/randomly. They may seek these qualities from others in the workplace, friendships, or another mother figure. This can create all sorts of relationship problems and issues. Such issues will never be adequately resolved in the workplace or in the outside world. Mother factor issues have to be resolved on a personal level regardless of their nature or magnitude.
Even when they're quite young, children pay close attention to their mother's attitudes and behavior in regard to their father, family relationships, work and communication.
- False. Growing up with a conflicted, strained mother-child relationship is not a reason to repeat the sins of the past or continue to punish yourself through poor life choices, self-defeating behaviors or depressed thinking. You can control your life choices by gaining new insight about how you were raised and the style of mothering that shaped your childhood.
Verbal abuse by your mother is much less harmful than physical abuse.
- True. Sons and daughters watch their mothers closely when it comes to relationships and to their mothers' behavioral and emotional treatment of others. Some people contend that they never really paid much attention to these issues while growing up. More often than not, however, they blocked out what may have been unpleasant experiences: Mom and Dad screaming at each other about money problems or Mom complaining that no one appreciated her hard work around the house. Your approach to conflict resolution, emotionally charged issues, communication, and personal ethics all likely come from having observed your mother's attitudes, actions and beliefs in these critical areas.
While some people seem to have come to terms with a negative mother-child relationship, they are in fact usually pressure cookers beneath the surface.
- False. As horrific as physical abuse is, verbal abuse is equally destructive and toxic to a son or daughter's spirit, mind and emotions. Children carry those hate-filled words, scared feelings and accusations in their hearts and minds, in many cases, for the rest of their lives. Cruel words, mean-spirited badgering, and constant criticism erode a child's developing sense of self and will lead to future problems with relationships, partners and parenting - unless these issues are addressed and resolved. The lack of trust and a sense of danger is what the child learns to feel while growing up. Adults who demean and belittle others often come from homes where their mothers were verbally abusive and emotionally aggressive with them. Their behavior is a reaction to their mother-child relationship. They have to demean people in order to feel good about themselves — it is a constant cycle of abuse.
In addition, verbal abuse is invisible. Unlike physically abused children, verbally abused children grow up believing that they had a normal mother/child relationship. They often don't seek professional help for the psychological and emotional damage done to their self-esteem and never acknowledge or articulate how awful they feel about their mother's abusive behavior —past and present. Given the lack of overt physical evidence (broken arms, black-and-blue bruises, swollen faces), they tend to minimize the long-term damage that verbal abuse has caused. Consequently, they carry the emotional damage and pain into both their personal and professional lives.
- True. People in high-pressure situations or circumstances often have perfected the art of appearing outwardly calm, while inside the pressure builds. The symptoms can appear as sleepless nights, panic attacks, ulcers and chronic anxiety, as well as physical problems that negatively affect their decision-making abilities or worse. An emotionally supportive, caring mother provides a child with the inner resources necessary to cope with all types of stress, including personal challenges. She helps her child gain the self-esteem and coping skills that serve them well in school, work situations and adult relationships. Children of supportive mothers may also respond to stress with anger, depression, or frustration, but inside they're capable of managing the stress and continuing to function effectively on emotional and cognitive levels.