A mother goes through the labor and all her sad experience vanishes like due drops on the onset of morning sunshine. The sparkle in the eyes of the baby, are the most rewarding times for the mom. She then joyfully starts to attend to every need of the baby, keeping an Argus eye all the time. The child then grows and starts their school days.
Lucia Ciciolla, a postdoctoral research associate at Arizona University and a well known authority on child psychology says the most challenging and distressing period of mothering comes during children’s puberty period..
She conducted an extensive study involving more than 2,200 well-educated mothers with teens and grown up kids. She analyzed the multifarious aspects of the motherhood, their personal wellbeing and happiness inclusive of parenting problems. Moms with kids in the age 11 to 13 suffer maximum from stress and depression where as those mothers with smaller kids have only minor issues. Again once the kids become mature and grown adults, the moms can have time to relax.
Most Indian Moms are required to take care of 3 or 4 meals for the family and irrespective of the fact you are a working woman you have to honor this prime responsibility. In many families unlike in western countries grandparents also stay with the families and in this kind of society expectations on the housewife are sometimes tedious and unreasonable.
Those fortunate to have home maids can rely on them to some extent. But when it comes to meeting the responsibilities of managing teen aged they sometimes don’t have even the support of their husbands. The non availability of the father to take care could be on account of their longer working hours, especially if you have a business to look after etc.
By the time the mothers have their kids reaching 11 the changes become very apparent. They find more and more problems in interactions with their children, and the challenges of parenting become complicated and tormenting. It is the time when the kids find some new friends whom the moms may not actually approve. Problems of drug addiction, lack of interest in studies, gloominess and psychological issues can add to the complexity of the situation. It is in this period a host of problems attack almost like a tornado. That exactly is the time the hormones play havoc in the body and peer influence can lead them to drugs, sex etc. That is also a time when the kids start questioning the authority of teachers, parents and priests. They tend to become so much isolated from the family.
When pressures mount
Children at this age are starting to introspect and start questioning established values and standards. This is the time they devote much attention to their peer group and crave for their acceptance. In a group action they start to take risky and dangerous ventures both good and bad.
Things become much in bad shape and mothers alone find it very hard to cope up with these drastic changes in the scenario and the sudden changes that happened in the attitude of the kids. The tensions mount and they become unbearable for moms to handle alone. In a situation when you don’t have the hubby around or any grandparent to support, moms find things very upsetting. The tensions in running the home affairs and the mounting pressures from the work place can render the mom’s life miserable.
Mothers are primary caregivers and have a great responsibility there. When the kids are in distress whether they approach you or not you have to be just there to take care of their emotional needs and give your best to offer solace, comfort and reassurance. Instead of the mom’s earlier warm expressions like hugs, loving words they have to find newer and ingenious ways to catch their attention and bring them back to your fold. “The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are” says Jim Henson.
It becomes rather enigmatic as to up to what level the parents have to interfere in the affairs of their children. Your excessive authority and controls and coercion may not bring any positive results. The warning signals they must get and they have to be told as to what all have to be avoided. Some moms start regretting having said something harsh and they feel guilty for having taken a firm stance.
We must create an atmosphere in families where children can talk to parents freely and confide in them their problems. Moms can be very supportive in correcting the kids through their affection and attitude.
In puberty drastic changes take place in human body. Because of this kids react differently and become offending at times. They become sometimes unpredictable in behavior and attitude towards others. Moms at home have to face the brunt of all these. The boy or girl that fluttered all around spreading joy is now under a metamorphosis. At times they may look so weak and full of affection and in few other moments their behavior becomes draconian.
The natural response to these behaviors for the moms can be painful. When children shout at or behave rudely and reject them, it can lead to lot of frustration for mothers especially in lone parent situation. The disconnection and distancing in their affection could be very upsetting. But understand this is part of their growing up process and a difficult period. Some mothers may find it an impossible task to wade through this period.
Tina Fey explains this situation most aptly like this: “I think every working mom probably feels the same thing. You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible—oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”
And to make matters worse this period often coincides with their own physical problems and in some cases the menopause period etc. Even when their cognitive abilities are at a peak, the health conditions such as obesity high cholesterol etc tend to make matters difficult for them.
How to cope up
Lot of understanding on the psychology of kids can be shored up through reading books and attending on line advice. Nurturing and Maintaining good friendships with people having similar problems, is another sure way of reducing tension and anxieties.
All these put together can buffer women through the challenges and problems of motherhood and this will offer avenues for some mental relaxation. The mutual support you get from the peer group can do wonders in life..
Happy days are here again
Maya Angelou says “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”. Once they cross the teen period and reach to become adults there could be dramatic changes again. They will come back to your fold as better persons with warmth, understanding and affection. They could turn the mothers proud to say ‘look at him he is my son’.
The researches indicate that happiest moms are those whose kids have grown into adulthood. In India we have a history of strong bondages of love existing between kids and their moms. And because of this kind of everlasting relations, they tend to attend the needs and aspirations of their moms for entire lifetime. The tendency to fly away from home once you become an adult is much less pronounced in countries like India.
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, BSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 22 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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- (Articles originally published in Daily Brunch)
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