In my book, giving birth doesn’t automatically equate to being a mom. Other than love, there’s also a level of empathy, compassion, strength, and resilience required.
And there are so many layers to motherhood that it will take us ages to even get through one aspect of it.
This article is me trying to touch on one topic though, and that’s on the behaviors that show someone is a compassionate but strong mother.
To be clear, this isn’t me offering advice, nor am I criticizing anybody, not at all. This is merely an observation, as well as to provide comfort to those seeking it.
At the very least, it could also just give you something to think about.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
1) You allow your child to make mistakes and to learn from them, but offer support when needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s difficult. There are just times when you want to shelter your kids away from all that could hurt them.
However, you’re showing strength by allowing them to learn from their mistakes. By allowing them to fail, by allowing them to learn the beauty of trying again.
They become resilient this way, better adjusted to the highs and lows that life puts us on.
And compassion comes in when you let your child know that you will always offer support when needed.
It’s the balance between allowing them their independence and letting them know that you are the safest place they can rest their head against.
2) You involve your kids in decision-making.
By involving your kids in making decisions, you’re giving them the confidence to speak up. You give them the chance to learn how to outweigh the pros and cons. This will engage their logic and reasoning.
You listen, not just let them speak, but you listen. You listen to their opinions, no matter how small the effect might be in the situation.
Sure, it might be quicker to just think “Hey, I’m the parent, I know what’s best” at every given time but there is strength in composure and compassion in patience.
Of course, discernment is still important, as to which decisions need their input and which ones you need to be non-negotiable about.
Lastly, with decision-making, you don’t arbitrarily set restrictions and limitations either. You explain the reason behind said restrictions and limitations.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that the fastest way for me to do something is for my mom to tell me not to do it. Especially, if it’s without an explanation of the rationale and the consequences. (I’m sure a fair share of you reading this can relate.)
3) You express your love and appreciation to your kids freely.
But you manage to do this, don’t you?
And it’s not empty praise either. You don’t praise your children just because. You compliment them for the good people they are becoming.
For their actions, their kindness, their empathy, what they bring to the world, and how they treat others.
I’m not talking about only complimenting your kids when they achieve something, but it’s also in all the moments of in-between. You love them then, too.
And you show them that.
4) You apologize to your child when you’re wrong.
Another sign of strength and compassion: You apologize when you’re wrong.
Most especially to your child. That you, in the position of authority, can be accountable for your actions and can own up to your mistakes.
You are leading by example. You are showing your child that they are worth your apology. You are showing them that even people who love them should be accountable for how they act.
You’re also not allowing resentment to build due to non-apology. You show empathy for their pain, you don’t let the hurt fester by non-communication.
5) You respect their boundaries.
Speaking of communication, let’s talk about boundaries.
Specifically, the boundaries that your kids have set for themselves. The choices they make for themselves, the people they choose to associate or limit interactions with, and even the secrets they choose to keep from you.
You respect these boundaries. You may have even guided them to explore these boundaries and explained that their feelings are valid and should not be ignored.
You have taught and explained the concept of consent.
6) You don’t ignore your child’s bad behavior.
I know the previous points make it seem like I’m pushing for permissive parenting, but that’s not the case at all.
I believe there is strength and compassion in knowing when to put your foot down. To know when to set restrictions and limitations. To know when to discipline and let your child learn accountability.
To let them learn that there are consequences to actions and that you cannot shield them from the world forever.
7) You let your child feel and express their emotions.
And lastly, you let your kids feel the depth of their emotions. You also let them express these emotions, helping them navigate these big feelings without judgment and anger.
You don’t tell them to keep their big feelings in.
You helped them regulate their emotions, too, which is a lesson they can carry with them moving forward.
Whether this list resonated or not, what will separate a strong and compassionate mother from those who aren’t is the willingness to try to be one.
Emotion regulation? Praise? Boundaries? Consent? Involving the kids in decision-making?
None of these are new concepts, but some of these are difficult to mix when you just want to protect your child every step of the way.
To hide them away from those that could hurt them.
But your child, no matter how small they might be right now, will grow up. They will lead lives the way you and I do.
How you treat them will cause ripples in their lives, their emotions, how they understand consent, how they affirm their boundaries, how confident they are when voicing their opinions, how they make decisions, who they love, and so on.
To note, there are never guarantees when it comes to this. And there are so many layers to motherhood as I’ve said at the start, but you can only try.
To try to do good for your children and to trust that your heart is in the right place.
You got this, momma.