Read an Excerpt
Introduction Welcome to The Mom Factor. We hope it's helpful. Before you begin, however, we want to introduce you to what's behind this book and what you can expect from it. The fact that you are reading this book indicates that you are curious or that you have concerns or struggles surrounding your relationship with one of the most important people in anyone's life: Mom. This may mean your own mother, or it could mean the mother of your spouse or a friend. God gave you a mother to protect, nurture, and mature you. She takes on part of his loving nature. Your mom, or some person in that role, was right there in the middle of your becoming you. Religious leaders, politicians, great thinkers, and artists often give glowing testimonies to the impact their mothers had upon their lives. Mothering is the most significant, demanding, and underpaid profession around. Yet, for many, mom also means conflicts or problems. You may have haunting memories of bad experiences in the past, or you may have a difficult present connection with your mother. Yet, since as most of us love our mothers deeply, we have a hard time talking about our problematic feelings or issues with her. For example, you might have the following questions: How can I have a better present-day relationship with my own, or someone else's, mother? Which of my current relationships or work problems might have been influenced by my mothering? What went right and wrong in my mothering, and how did that affect the connection between my childhood and my life today? How can I get beyond my past mothering problems, so that I can get on with my life? What's the best way for me to parent my own children? These and many other questions aren't some act of disloyalty to mother. We strongly believe that God ordained the specialness and importance of mothering: 'Honor your mother and your father' is a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. Yet, we also need to be honest, tell the truth, take responsibility, heal, forgive, and grieve at the same time that we honor mom. And this is why we wrote The Mom Factor. For many years as clinical psychologists, we have studied and seen how crucial mothering is. Much has been written about mothering on a professional level, yet very little addresses the problems and solutions on a general level. Even fewer writings show the spiritual side of mothering dynamics. We have seen so many people struggle for so long because they had no way to understand what to do about how they were mothered, for better or worse. On a brighter note, we have also seen miracles happen. Many individuals we have known through our speaking or counseling have examined how they were mothered. A great number of these people have learned much, healed much, loved much, and now have more fruitful, more meaningful relationships with mom and others. It is to these people that we dedicate this book. The organization of The Mom Factor is straightforward. Six 'mom types' --- the Phantom Mom, the China Doll Mom, the Controlling Mom, the Trophy Mom, the Still-the-Boss Mom, and the American Express Mom --- explain how the mothering process breaks down in different ways, from emotional absence to problems in letting go of kids. Each mom type is presented in a pair of chapters. The first chapter will describe the problem and the needs that may not have been met. The second will provide the steps to meeting needs that were unmet and repairing whatever was broken. We finish the book with chapters on the unique issues that women and men have with mothers, including their own tasks as parents. One important point: When we say 'mother,' we mean your real mother or anyone who played the role of mother in your life. Many people were not raised by their biological mother; for example, those who were reared by a grandparent, stepparent, or friend of the family. If this is your situation, mother for you is that most significant person. We hope it becomes obvious that this is not a negative book about mom, but one designed to meet a great need today: reconciliation. We are all called both to ask and to give forgiveness, and, as a result, we can enjoy better lives and better connections. The first step of any reconciliation is to understand the problems. That's why understanding the mom types is so important. A final note: You may be curious about why a couple of men, rather than women, are writing a book about mom. While we can understand the concern that a woman's perspective might not be included in a book about a womanly role, we didn't exclude anyone in writing this material. Here are a few reasons we felt qualified: * Mothering issues involve a role and function that has been studied extensively in the clinical arena, by scientists and thinkers of both genders. * We have had clinical training and experience, including many years of directing multiple outpatient and inpatient settings. * Many men have played large roles in 'mothering' their children, just as many women have done so in 'fathering.' * We both had moms ourselves, and today have good connections with them! In fact, we feel that the issue is more non-issue. Understanding mothering has much more to do with understanding God, people, and how we are to relate than it has to do with gender. So we hope you learn some things about yourself, mom, and God in reading The Mom Factor. More than that, we hope you find yourself better and healthier as a result. Enjoy the book!