Hissy Fit - May 2024 - Love is… Not Doing Everything For Your Children

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


May 2024 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

 While we may not all be mothers, we all have a mother,
even if she is no longer living or not in the picture

because of reasons or circumstances. Some moms are wonderful, though “wonderful” is defined through each individual’s eyes.
Some think it’s wonderful their mom’s known as the “cool” mom,
while others can literally smell the homemade chocolate chip
cookies their mom always has ready with a tuned-in,
compassionate ear when life gets tough.

Both of these scenarios can be comforting and work for the mother/child relationship. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to motherhood. What works for one child or family, may not come close to working in other households. In fact, children of the same family can have completely different views about their mother’s mothering. While one thinks Mom rocks, the other may find her manipulative or overbearing. However, most moms try their best, given that children—at any age—do not come with instructions.

Society tends to look at mothers of days gone by as shiny role models for the ultimate perfect mothers. Hollywood invented characters like June Cleaver, Marion Cunningham, and Carol Brady as sheer perfection. While more modern-day Hollywood moms include the likes of Roseanne, Emily Gilmore, and Peg Bundy. In my lifetime, I have seen a metamorphosis of motherhood, and it appears the closer we have gotten to 2024, the more moms misbehave.

But perhaps “misbehaving” is the only way Hollywood can fathom a mom becoming powerful, cool, effective, or in charge. But we’ve been sold a bill of goods, because all this showing-out to exert independence, worthiness, and control has resulted in disrespectful, entitled, and unhappy children, not to mention exhausted, stressed-out, and unhappy moms.

Many moms do some dog-and-pony-shows to be liked by their children—to be friends, actually. Here’s a fact you can take to the bank: A mother’s best friend should not be her 7-year-old, or really any of her children under the age of 25. Children need their mothers (and fathers) to provide leadership, guidance, know-how, and boundaries, not be their besties. They need their mom and dad to be role models for good character, morals, values, gratefulness, discipline, work ethic, getting along, and all the important things it takes to become an upstanding citizen and good human being. I still tell my children at 25 and 30 years of age, I will always be their mother first.

Like a true mama bear, nurturing and protecting is also important, but all of this is a great balancing act of loving hard—disciplining, teaching, expecting, guiding, comforting— and letting go. A mother’s ultimate duty is to prepare her young to thrive into adulthood—to become mama or papa bears of their own.

One indication that American moms (and dads) are failing is supposedly age 28 is the “new 18.” This is a direct result of technology infiltrating the household and parents, particularly moms, doing everything for their children. What kind of message do children receive when parents have low—or no—expectations of them? Make them do the dishes, for goodness’ sake, and expect them to do it well, to finish the job, to wipe the counters, to wash, dry, and put away the pots. Teach them standards.

According to a study1 which involved 8 million teenagers between 13 and 19, by the 2010s, only 55 percent of high school seniors had ever worked for pay—versus roughly three-quarters of their counterparts in the late 1970s through the 1990s. Similarly, only 63 percent had ever been on a date. That compared with 81 percent to 87 percent of high school seniors in the 1970s through 1990s. Additionally, the study showed teens are waiting to get their driver’s licenses, leave home, go places without their parent(s), and even have sex, all indications that maturing is in slow motion.

Without getting too bogged down or downtrodden, let’s point out a few things that have gone woefully wrong and try to move forward to get those little “twikes” out of the house and on their own. What is a “twike” you ask? I made it up, but it’s a 20-something who is not prepared for the real world. You know, a 20-something- year-old with the maturity level and life skills of a tike.

So, let’s start with the lack of life skills. Twikes aren’t incapable of life skills, they’ve simply been robbed of them. Mothers, particularly the hovercraft models, have been tricked into believing that love is…doing everything for your children, when in actuality, doing everything for your children strips them of living their best life as adults.

Many college professors agree that today’s students do not possess simple life-skills and have trouble with basics like planning, time management, problem-solving—even knowing how to properly address and mail an envelope.

If you’re still waking up your high schooler to go to school, something is wrong. This lack of responsibility placed on the child extends into adulthood. I had an employee, who was in her late 20s at the time, ask if I could call and wake her up in the mornings. It was “just so hard to get up and get going.” (operative word: had)

Have you ever heard the phrase “separate the wheat from the chaff”? Wheat is a valuable resource—a necessary commodity. Chaff is seed coverings and other debris separated from the seed in threshing grain, basically something comparatively worthless. While mom is running herself ragged to do everything in her power to make sure her children get everything they want, without doing anything that makes them unhappy for even a second, she is producing chaff. In other words, these are children who not only don’t know how to contribute to the family household, but who also have no desire because their “get up and help” has never had to engage. In fact, they may not even comprehend that someone (usually mom) actually washes the bed sheets, cleans the refrigerator, or cuts the grass because they’ve never had to think about it. (But how can one notice these things if he or she is constantly scrolling through reels or Snap Chatting on their smart phone? (Which, by the way, is dumbing everyone down at an alarming rate.)

Mother’s Day is on May 12, and this is the year to celebrate by actually giving your children a gift. What is it, you ask? It’s a “rude awakening,” and it will look stunning on the entire family. Not at first, of course. Some will have to grow into it, and it can be uncomfortable until it stretches out. But once you’ve worn it in some, it will provide great comfort for many years to come.

What can be better than as a mother, you know for sure you have pulled, pushed, and prodded your children to go out and be able to thrive without crumbling under inadequacies of life-skills? Now, that’s a true Mother’s Day gift.