Are you authentic? Are you who you want to be 100% of the time? Not many of us can answer yes. Stress and pressure put on mom's, from internal and external sources, can greatly impact who we are. A survey in 2008, from the Pew Research Center concluded that only 18 percent of stay-at-home moms and 14 percent of working moms rarely, if ever felt stress in their lives. When asked in another survey about the greatest challenge in raising a family, social pressure was at the top with 38 percent saying it was a factor. How can we combat this and teach our children to be their authentic selves and avoid the social pressures put on them?
A woman who looks at herself in the mirror and decides she doesn't like what she sees, commonly passes this attitude on to her children. If this is you, you need to stop what you're doing.
There is no pressure greater than the pressure we put on ourselves. Ultimately we get to choose who pressures us, by accepting the challenges they give us, or letting it go.
We interviewed several moms and asked them where they felt pressure coming from, and how they deal with it. Here are some of the answers we received:
“The pressure I feel comes from within. My friends, I am happy to say, have never pressured me. In the end, its all about balance. My priority is spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being for me and my family.” -Amber, OR.
“When I go out shopping or just to do regular activities with all of my kids, people always look at me incredulously when asked if they are all mine. It is hard to raise children when people are waiting for you to mess up, so they can say “See, I knew she shouldn't have had so many kids.” The life we lead is our own, I don't need the pressures of others making me feel like a failure. “-Rhiannon, ME
“Seeing my close friends be a “better” mom than I am. Constantly judging myself on being a “bad” mom because I don't do what they do … I feel there is a HUGE stigma for stay-at-home moms. I believe in being home with [my children], but there are those instances where moms need to work or simply choose to work and it is OK!”-Nicole, UT
“I found myself wondering just what I was doing wrong. Then I realized I had my standards too high! I figured I could do a little here and a little there, and as long as I didn't expect amazing results, my life fell into order. I have to keep reminding myself of this because those social pressures creep back in often, but thanks to good humor and a great support system my family is happier.”-Patricia, ID
So, how do we dispel this pressure? We believe that our time with our children and families passes too quickly. Knowing that our time is limited, why waste any of it on what other people think.
- Learn from others' wisdom and mistakes.
- Use tools to your advantage.
- Read good books, watch uplifting programs.
- let criticisms slide right off your back.
- Be yourself and smile.
Social media can be intimidating or depressing if we allow it to hurt us. We can use these tools to our advantage. Amber, in Oregon, says Pinterest helps her be a better homemaker, teaching her new techniques. She doesn't allow others' pictures or ideas intimidate or depress her. She takes what she needs and allows it to improve her. If you have spent so much time pleasing and taking care of others you are not sure who you are or, don't know what your own likes and dislikes are, then you may have lost touch with yourself. We would like to offer a technique successfully used in trauma recovery groups for getting to know yourself.
The find-yourself collage
Gather magazines, a sheet of poster board, scissors, and a glue stick.
Thumb through the magazines. Evey time a picture or word catches your eye, cut it out and paste it on the board in a collage. Don't stop to think about why you like it, just cut and paste what “feels” good or pleases your eye. Then post it where you can see it. During the following week find crayons in colors that make you smile. Continue to find pictures, scraps of fabric or whatever catches your eye and paste it on the board. At the end of the week examine the board for patterns. Ask yourself:
- Do I see pictures of a hobby like gardening more than once?
- Do I see a color theme?
- What do I see a lot of and what does it tell me about myself?
- Do I see more people or pets?
Spend some time looking for the message in your pictures. Keep your board and add favorites to it as you find them. Make it a representation of who you are, authentically.
The Hearts at Home project asks us this in this video if can we give up perfect and take on authentic? It helps us evaluate our relationship with ourselves and uses God's grace to help us become more authentic, humble and happy with what we have.
Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.