One thing is for sure, being a mom doesn't come with a manual or guide for successfully guiding our children through life. We all have our unique blend of mothering traits that come as a result of our childhoods, our relationships with our parents, life experiences, and more.
In an effort to better understand the varying mothering styles we own and how they impact the future of our children, clinical psychologist Dr. Stephan Poulter has classified us into five types. In his research, he makes it clear that we can all fall into multiple categories.
It's safe to say, that we all have our moments. Sometimes life is flying along beautifully, and we're happy with the way we parent and other times things can get rocky. The beauty of it is that we can all identify areas of improvement. The secret to our growth lies in our ability to admit we're missing the mark sometimes and make adjustments that foster our children's hearts and growth.
As you read through the following paragraphs, don't get hard on yourself. Dr. Poulter's ultimate goal is to open eyes and help us all be a loving inspiration to our kids.
#1 - The Best Friend
The Best Friend treats her children as equals and sometimes has a hard time setting boundaries. In this scenario, a child usually becomes their mom's emotional confidant and partner.
When this type of relationship is at its best, her child feels loved, accepted, and valued. When at its worst, her children can feel like they are missing out on being a kid. Sometimes they can even feel like a parent to their mom.
On the positive side, this combo can walk away as best friends for life. This will lead to numerous amazing experiences in life for both the parent and the child — including travel and adventures together, deep conversations about life, and more.
Children of a best friend mother...
- Strengths: As they grow, they will most likely be comfortable interacting with other adults and have a strong sense of who they are. They can also be leaders, great listeners, and able to be pillars of strength to their friends, partner, and family.
- Weaknesses: They may feel emotionally neglected because they didn't get a chance to be a kid. Some can be resentful and bitter because they felt burdened by their mom's emotions. If they don't deal with their emotions, they can have a hard time in love relationships, as they may battle with feeling overburdened by their partner's needs or struggle with feeling unsupported.
#2 - The Perfectionist
Do you freak out if your child looks less than perfect? Or, sometimes if they say the "wrong" things, you cringe? Or maybe you're hyper-focused on them joining in on 100 activities so that they're well-rounded to the extreme. If so, you may be The Perfectionist.
This is a trait that we all have to be careful of embodying, as children of perfectionists can grow to become hypercritical of themselves, feel emotionally empty, and inadequate.
Sometimes it's important that we take a step back and connect with what's most important in life: love and acceptance. Overcomplicating our lives can lead to so much pain.
Also, really taking time to get to know our kids, so that they become uniquely themselves rather than what we "think" they should be is a must.
Children of a perfectionist mother…
- Strengths: They can have a strong sense of responsibility and follow-through and a commitment to relationships. They also value hard work and will most likely persist until they reach their goals.
- Weaknesses: They may always feel like they are less than perfect and can't measure up. Also, they may think the world is watching and judging them. As partners and parents, they may be hypercritical and hard to please.
#3- The Unpredictable Mom
There are times that we are all anxious, emotional, moody, and even angry. This is normal as our children grow and life becomes stressful. However, being labeled an Unpredictable Mom means that the feelings of anxiety, frustration, and anger lead to regular outbursts.
When this occurs, children may begin walking on eggshells and not know how to respond in their environment. Children are sponges for emotion and need stability to be able to thrive. When things become unpredictable, it can send children into fight-or flight-mode which often leads to anxiety and health challenges.
According to Poulter, if we find ourselves becoming more unpredictable than we'd like to be, it's important to seek help and guidance as soon as possible.
Children of an unpredictable mother…
- Strengths: They may have excellent people skills and be extremely empathetic toward others. If they've overcome the hurt they had at home, they may even become great motivators.
- Weaknesses: They may be overwhelmed when faced with anger, anxiety, and depression from their partners, friends, and bosses. They may also take on the unpredictable traits themselves and bring them into their future life and family.
#4 - The Me-First Mother
It's vital that every mother works to keep their own identify and stay balanced as she works to support her children. It's essential for us all to be able to give positive energy to our children, families, and friends.
But, according to Poulter, there is a difference between healthy self-care and being a Me-First Mom. They tend to make it a habit of thinking of themselves before they consider the needs of their children. She tends to see their children as separate individuals who can handle life on their own. When at the extreme, she can be jealous of the attention they receive from others and compete for affection.
Children of Me-First Moms can become focused on trying to win her over with compliments and will go to great lengths to help her shine. Also, they may retreat into their own world and become withdrawn.
Children of a me-first mother…
- Strengths: They learn early how to support others and are often quite intuitive and insightful as to how others can thrive. They can be quite loyal and be experts of helping others solve their problems.
- Weaknesses: They may never feel like they have come into their own or have true purpose. They can also feel that everyone else's needs are more important than their own, as a result they may never fully utilize their talents.
#5 - The Complete Mother
According to Poulter, only about 10 percent of moms are "The Complete Mother." This particular mom combines the best elements of the four above styles. They are emotionally balanced, see their kids as important individuals, and do amazingly well at inspiring their kids to be independent and healthy.
She isn't a perfect person, but she's fully committed to being a great mom. She knows that she makes mistakes and apologizes for them, then adjusts her actions to make life better for everyone.
Children of a complete mother…
- Strengths: They feel loved, understood, and valued. They take calculated risks, are able to embrace change, and can make solid partners in relationships.
- Weaknesses: Of course, they won't be perfect, but they are able to spot their challenges and weaknesses and make changes for positive outcomes.
Putting It All Together
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, NO mom is perfect. Poulter points out that because we're human, we all have moments of weakness and struggle.
This is why it's VERY IMPORTANT that we don't get down on ourselves.
Poulter's mission is to make us all aware of our shortcomings and challenges, so we can become The Complete Mother. This doesn't mean that we will be perfect on any level. It translates to us all taking motherhood moment by moment and making adjustments from the heart.
We've got this!