1. It is okay to care, but it is not okay to rescue others.
We rescue when we help people in an unhealthy way. Rescuing is when we go over and above just caring and actually do harm to ourselves and others,while trying to be helpful. For example, if a high school friend is constantly forgetting their homework, rescuing is doing their homework for them, giving them the answers, or covering for them in some way. This prevents them from learning the consequences of their choices.
Rescuing is when you give too much. Talk to your daughter about the differences.
2. Push back, if that is what you need.
Sometimes, pushing back on boundaries is important self-care. This doesn’t mean to ignore someone’s “no” and demand your way. What it mean is if you are a caring, compassionate person, you might give up a little too easily to avoid uncomfortable conflict.
Talk to your kids about going back to the issue at hand, and trying to move the scoreboard through a different approach. For example, if your daughter has been told “no” from her science teacher about doing a special project, guide her towards setting up a meeting to listen and get more information as to why it was a “no”. Have them problem solve with the teacher on a compromise if possible. This is a good path towards negotiation, which will be an important skill in the work world.
I really like this book called Pushback: How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up For What They Want.
3. Sometimes, when you are taking good care of yourself, people will get upset with you. Learn to center yourself enough to tolerate that.
Just because people are mad doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. Girls and women are taught that being nice and likable is primarily important. People pleasing can get you into deep trouble. Discuss this with your daughter, and when you do it and make a mistake, tell her about your struggle.
4. Be compassionate, kind, and loving towards yourself, first and foremost. Then, mirror that towards others.
As mothers, it can be easy to put one’s self down, especially when teenagers are blaming you for everything that goes wrong. No need to be defensive but make sure you are treating yourself compassionately, not self criticizing, and not allowing others to put you down. Be the woman you want your daughter to be.
5. No need to downplay your accomplishments and successes, to “take care” of others.
Be proud of all of your achievements. If someone says they like your hair, don’t say, “Ugh! I am so disgusted with the frizz. Are you kidding me?”
Show your daughters how to graciously accept a compliment. Beam in response and say, “Thank you so much.”
I am a mother myself of boys, but I try to keep these things in mind for my sons too. I want them to be caring, compassionate, respectful men who value themselves as well as others. Have a lovely mother’s day! You deserve it.
About the author: Cherilynn M. Veland, LCSW, MSW, is author of the forthcoming book Stop Giving It Away. She leads a new self-advocacy movement intended to help women reach out, speak up, and take action steps for what’s best for them. Please support this effort by liking the Facebook page and/or subscribing for updates on my blog. You can also connect on Twitter and Google Plus.