Things Good Mothers Know: A Celebration


In this warm and wise book, Alexandra Stoddard not only celebrates what mothers know—and what we would like them to know—she encourages them to attend to their own happiness in the quest to become better mothers. Raising a good child to become a good person begins with a mother's own inner transformation. Don't think if you are a good mother you will automatically be happy, she cautions. Be happy and you will be good at everything that is meaningful and valuable in your life! From giving practical advice, to ...

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Things Good Mothers Know

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In this warm and wise book, Alexandra Stoddard not only celebrates what mothers know—and what we would like them to know—she encourages them to attend to their own happiness in the quest to become better mothers. Raising a good child to become a good person begins with a mother's own inner transformation. Don't think if you are a good mother you will automatically be happy, she cautions. Be happy and you will be good at everything that is meaningful and valuable in your life! From giving practical advice, to taking a more philosophical approach, to offering a comforting pat on the back, Stoddard reaches out to mothers with words that will encourage, support, and cheer them on.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061714429
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 777,340
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Stoddard is the bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and is an acclaimed philosopher on the art of living. Through her lectures, articles, and books—such as Choosing Happiness, Time Alive, Living a Beautiful Life, Gift of a Letter, Grace Notes, and many more—she has inspired millions to pursue more fulfilling lives. She lives with her husband in Stonington Village, Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt

Things Good Mothers Know
A Celebration

Chapter One

The Ideal Mother?

The one essential thing is that we strive to have light in ourselves. Our strivings will be recognized by others and when people have light in themselves it will shine out from them.
—Albert Schweitzer

I believe that mothers, at their best, try to live up to their own potential and expect their children to do the same. Each one of us was born of a mother who was also born of a mother, as her mother was, going back to the beginning of human life. Mothers affect all people on earth. What is the ideal message from these sacred messengers? Mothers embody the ultimate good, the transcendent power of true love—you deeply care for the well-being of yourself and others who often are in need of our affection and care.

No one can teach inner peace, joy, and fulfillment who doesn't embody them. Being an ideal mother means being, as much as possible, an ideal person. A mother must pay attention to herself in order to be in a position to serve others.

How can each of us—mother and child, grandmother, great-grandmother—grow to become a better human being? There has to be a balance between giving to others and nourishing our mental, physical, and spiritual selves. The ideal mother is, after all, an ordinary human being who is becoming a good person. Wise mothers grow to understand that developing their own core identity is indispensable in being a positive influence on their children.

What are the characteristics of the ideal mother? Who are some of the women you know and love who exemplify admirablequalities listed below? Here are some of the qualities I think of when I complete the sentence: The ideal mother is _________.


Looking at this list of fifty qualities, we quickly realize these characteristics embody the principles to live by in order to become an ideal human being. No one is perfect, though we are all perfect in potential. The good news is, the more we aspire to greatness, the better our chances of achieving it. Most mothers aspire to be better people, and as a direct result, better mothers. All the mothers I interviewed wanted their sons and daughters to grow up to be good men and women. A mother who aspires to have a happy child must set an example of what happiness looks and feels like. As we grow into our potential excellence, we, in turn, are better mothers.

As much as I respect the enlightenment of the Buddha, he left his wife and child in the middle of the night to pursue his inner search. But mothers can't leave. Mothers must pursue wisdom at home, in their daily lives, at the kitchen table. Mothers have endless distractions, are constantly interrupted, and have to drop everything in an emergency. We live in the trenches of life, without the luxury of a mountaintop retreat. But when our motivation is pure, our children will survive even if we sometimes worry, are stressed, and overreact from time to time. Children raised with the right values will survive, and most will thrive when they feel personally responsible for their own inner transformation and are not focused on their so-called entitlements and rights.

Some children would rather blame their mothers than do the necessary inner work to become happy. Some mothers would rather blame their children and the demands of motherhood than make the time and effort to pursue personal fulfillment. Mothers, as we all know, can't give something they don't possess. Mothers need to practice what they preach. Children see and feel their mother's energy 24/7. A mother can't tell a child not to be grumpy and be grumpy herself. She can't teach her child to "love thy neighbor as thyself" or "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" if she is cruel to her former husband. Right thought leads to right action: what's good for you and for others.

A mother teaches her child life's most valuable lessons by never selling herself short. Mothers should establish house rules that teach the core values of being true to one's self and living an ethical life focused on love, altruism, compassion, kindness, and charity. Whether a mother agrees or disagrees with her child, she respects her child's right to have a different point of view, thus supporting diversity of human differences. Good mothers want their children to become independent thinkers. Good mothers understand the divergent paths their children may take to claim their own truth.

Mothers, we'd like to think, are practically perfect, but as we all know firsthand, there's always room for improvement. The journey to perfection is full of exciting discoveries. Blessings to you as you find new ways to let your light shine.

It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at the goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.
—Arnold Toynbee

Things Good Mothers Know
A Celebration
. Copyright © by Alexandra Stoddard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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