Blue Suit Mom

A Lunchtime Lesson

HEY- Working Mothers!!!!   Relax!!!!  It’s not fair.  You can’t do it all. (So don’t force yourself to think you can!!!)

I met with Susie, a young mom, yesterday because I wanted some advice regarding promotion of my book.  When we sat down, she announced that her home life was crazy because Beth, her two-year-old daughter, deliberately snubs her when she gets home from work and says, “I want Daddy!!” Or even worse, “I want Blanca!”(That’s the nanny).   Susie continued to tell me that this was really upsetting to her, to the extent that she’d even had to explain to Beth that it “hurts Mommy’s feelings” when she says things like that.

At this point, I stop her.  “What?” she asks.

I explain that I see two issues at play and we need to address them individually.

First, there is Susie’s perception that there is something “lesser” about being a working mom.  I note that Beth has only one mother – and that’s her – so Susie is, in fact, Beth’s definition of “mother.”  Susie cannot allow herself to feel that Beth is in some way being denied what a “real” mother would be providing, because that’s total BS.  She is Beth’s mother, and whatever she provides will be perfect in the eyes of her daughter.  It’s only because Susie comes home from work on the defensive – vulnerable in her guilt – that her daughter sees weakness and works it.  There is no reason to be on the defensive.  Some mommies work, some daddies work, some people have one parent, some people have two dads or two moms.  We are living in the world of the New Normal. It’s crucial for us to accept, in ourselves, the new ways in which we are defining our roles.

The second problem is that Susie’s actually giving her child the power to make mommy happy or un-happy.  This is a ridiculous amount of responsibility for a two-year old, or even a ten-year-old. Neither of them is equipped to carry that burden.  As Beth’s mother, its Susie’s responsibility to be rock-solid and dependable.  In this way, Beth can seek refuge in Susie’s strength rather than exploit her weaknesses.  Ultimately, Susie’s goal should be to have a child that admires her strength, understands her motives, and wants to grow up to be like her.

Imagine arriving in a strange town and getting into a cab. The driver announces that he has no idea how to get where you need to go and the driver also asks you for directions — which you are completely ill-equipped to give.  I’d want out of that cab as quickly as possible.  In children, that “get me out of here” anxiety manifests as behavior that seeks security in boundaries and limitations.

Finally, my friend expressed a little umbrage toward her husband. After all, since he is with the baby all day, he must be guiding her toward a preference for himself.  Well…not really.  I think her daughter is just playing her like a violin.

So, what can Susie do about it?

She can be cool.  She can avoid showing Beth how she feels, and not cause her emotions to overtake her logic.

I know this seems easier said than done, but there are rarely long-term benefits from things we do when we’re angry.  Be unruffled by statements like “I don’t want you – I want Daddy.” Say something like, “Daddy’s not here, so I guess we’re just going to have to have fun on our own.”  Or, “Sorry, but Daddy’s out now, so you’re just going to have to hang with me.” It’s important to be matter-of-fact, even to the point of ignoring “feelings.”  Everything you are doing is part of your bigger plan, and it can’t be thrown off because this little beginner of a person wants to distract you.  By the way, those “feelings” we sometimes attribute to our offspring are often our projections of how we think they might be feeling.  Avoid that slippery slope.

So, stay single-minded of purpose and don’t over think it.  You already know – and your kids will learn – that you are one of the few people in the world who always wants the best for them.

Believe it, and be confident.  If you’re not defensive, your child won’t be offensive.

About the Author:

Richard Greenberg, aka Common Sense Dad, is the author of Raising Children that Other People Like to Be Around, an uncompromising, entertaining and sympathetic guide for parents in search of a peaceful home.  A native of Los Angeles, California, Richard Greenberg graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in English in 1976. He married his childhood sweetheart JoAnn, with whom he continues to raise their four children. After more than thirty years working in the entertainment industry as a post-production executive, editor and writer/producer, Raising Children that Other People Like to Be Around is his first book. Greenberg previously contributed to Arielle Ford’s Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Lover, a collection of real life stories about soul mates brought together by divine intervention. Greenberg is also a popular college-level instructor. 

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