Mother’s Day Reflection: To Advise or Not to Advise??

I love my mom dearly, I admire her and aspire to be like her. But there is one way in which I am definitely different from my mom. As Mother’s day weekend approaches, I sit and reflect on that difference, is it good or bad??

Sand drawing my daughter and I made  in New Zealand on our road trip

Sand drawing my daughter and I made in New Zealand on our road trip

The deal is….. I am much more involved and attached to my children (particularly my girls) than my mom was with her 5 children. Part of that is generational, I don’t think parents read to their children so much 30 or 40 years ago. They didn’t go to “meet the teacher” nights or have to check nightly homework. I never had movie or breakfast dates with my mom. I certainly never discussed boyfriend issues with her, that was reserved for sisters and best friends.

Mom and daughter in Machu Picchu

Mom and daughter in Machu Picchu

I really believe, though, that even if my mom raised kids today, she would keep a healthy distance. She is on Facebook with all her children and grand-children and never, ever passes judgement on any of one of them, no matter how scathing a photo or comment may be. I have never heard her offer an opinion or give advice to any of her five children on any of their life choices.

Contrast that with me. I just can’t help myself, I have this innate need to dole out advice to my kids all the time. Being a silent, supportive bystander is pretty-much impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I am super supportive, but I hate seeing anyone unhappy, so I always try to “help” with a hundred ideas and solutions. So I asked myself which style is better? My mom’s or mine? Or are they just different.

Pros to Helpful Parenting – I think the bond I have with my kids is amazing. I like knowing all about their lives. I love that we can talk about anything and love offering suggestions and resources to them. Isn’t that what moms do? ….. Help their kids.

I have always had wonderful one-on-one dates with my children: out for lunch, the movies or long walks. I have taken big trips with them. I highly recommend mother-daughter adventure trips. I can’t tell you how connected you feel when the two of you have climbed a tough mountain together, apartment-hunted in Manhattan or slept in a car because you couldn’t find a hotel. Crazy times we will remember and treasure forever.

Cons to Helpful Parenting – People learn from making mistakes, their own mistakes. So backing off is going to allow them to do that. It is like the saying goes, “Sometimes the best help, is no help at all”

Children should be following their own heart! If you continuously offer answers and ideas, they will end up following your heart.

In the end, weighing the pros and cons of my “helpfulness”, I think my mom had some wisdom I should learn from. I have amazing kids and I need to trust them to figure out all of life’s issues. I need to listen and support and not be so quick to want to be the “all-fixing” and “all-knowing” mom. So on this Mother’s Day, I owe a big Thank You to my mom for the many lessons she taught me, but most importantly to be a listener, not an advisor.