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How Your Relationship With Your Mom Affects Your Parenting

My Mom Is My Best Friend — and It Shaped Me as a Mother

When it comes to my own mom, I hit the jackpot (read this for proof). She's exceptionally loving and sweet, but tough when she needs to be. She is supportive, but not a pushover. Our personalities are different enough that we never had the great mother-daughter clash most teenage girls and their mothers experience (we're complements, not carbon copies), but we're similar enough that we always love to vacation, shop, or just do nothing together. In short, she's my best friend. I know how cheesy that sounds, but what can I say? It's true.

Our close-knit relationship has made my life pretty great (seriously, when your mom is a rock and your relationship is solid, you're pretty much a step ahead in life from the start, if I do say so myself). But when I became a mother, I realized that our closeness was also going to have a great effect on my parenting style, confidence level, and day-to-day choices in many profound ways, most of them good, but some . . . not so much. If you're a lucky mom like me who calls your own mother your best friend, here are some of the benefits and hurdles you might find yourself dealing with.

  1. You might be scared to live up to her example with your own kids. I was so excited to find out my first baby was a girl (the shopping potential alone!), but I was also a bit terrified because I knew it was a real possibility that my daughter and I wouldn't have the same kind of relationship my mother and I do. She's now 6, and we're tight as can be, but I still worry that her teenage years won't be nearly as easy on us as my own were with my mom.
  2. You might find yourself taking her lead too much with your own kids. For years, when my daughter and I were around my mom, I pretty much let Grandma rule. Then I realized that my daughter probably shouldn't be eating ice cream for breakfast and didn't need every new toy she wanted at Target, and I was going to have to put my foot down. We now have a shorthand for when Grandma is going overboard with my kids and needs to let me take the lead, but it took some time to find that balance.
  3. You might not totally trust your own parenting style. As much as I love my mother, I'm a very different person than she is, and it took me years to realize that my potty-mouthed, tickle-monster, sometimes impatient ways were good enough because they were authentically me.
  4. You might find yourself prioritizing your original family over your new one. My extended family vacations together pretty regularly, and it's easy for me to fall into old patterns with my mom. She's the matriarch, my brother and I are her kids, and my own little family's needs (especially my husband's) sometimes feel a bit distant. I have to make an effort to prioritize my immediate family; my mama has to come second.
  5. You might find yourself turning into her. Despite our personality differences, I love and respect my mom so much that I have undoubtedly adopted many of her ways. I used to have "WWMD" (that's "what would mom do") conversations in my head a lot when I encountered a rough situation with my kids, but these days, they're usually not necessary. I'm already dealing exactly as she would tell me to.
Image Source: Jenny Modesitt
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