“I think every person has their own identity and beauty. Everyone being different is what is really beautiful. If we were all the same, it would be boring.” – Tila Tequila, model
“It’s the ‘look’ they give me when I say, “No! I’m not pregnant…!”
Giselle was a very confused and frustrated thirty seven year old when she entered my offices. She told me she was the owner and operator of her own successful business, a small, human resources, consultancy. She said she loved her work. She presented herself in a professional manner…she was well dressed, with the appropriate backup hairstyle and understated, but high quality, jewelry.
Her partner of nine years, Gordon, was a cabinet maker who worked for a local construction company. She described him as an easy going guy who liked his work, but, really loved coaching kids’ sports.
When I asked her what brought her to my door, she replied, “My family…actually to be more specific, my parents!”
“What about your parents…are they ill?”I asked, guessing.
“Not at all, they’re in great health. It’s the ‘look’ they give me when I say, ‘No! I’m not pregnant and have no plans to be!’ I’m just really tired of that disappointed look on their face!” she replied, her face laden with guilt.
“So your parents want you and Gordon to have kids. What plans do you and Gordon have in this area of your life?” I asked.
“I want to be respected for whatever lifestyle I choose.”
“Ken, we discussed this a long time ago, and decided we didn’t want to have children of our own. We are content to be in the lives of children in our own way. I have four nieces and nephews and Gordon does a lot of coaching in our community..so we’re around children quite a bit.”
Then she added, “Ken, my younger brother and sister each with two children…my parents have four, healthy, beautiful grandchildren, but it seems, they are still waiting for their eldest daughter to add to their roster. And, they see it as my responsibility to do so…and, as soon as possible!” she added with growing anger.
Then she added more, “And my siblings are not much better…dropping hints about loaning me baby clothes when I need them…I feel so disrespected and marginalized by their limited, self righteous view of me.”
“What is your view of you?” I asked, “How do you want to be treated by your family?”
“That’s a good question…well, first, I want to be treated as a person… second, I want to be treated as an intelligent woman… and third, I want to be respected for whatever lifestyle I choose…and not pigeon holed into a role, any role, because of my gender, my age or any other stereotype.” she replied with her hurt and frustration bursting, simultaneously with a flash flood of tears.
“Sounds like you have been feeling disrespected for some time by your family. And I bet you have friends who have also conveyed this to you as well…has that been going on as well?”
“Ken, more times than I can count!” she said vehemently.
“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.” – Erik Erikson, psychiatrist
This is not about love, this is about learning.
“Giselle, let’s look at the bigger picture just for a moment. Nature has designed each of us to optimize our survival and evolution…this is shown clearly in how we learn…we seek pleasure and avoid pain to maximize our survival skills. For example, when you were a child, in order to learn, you viewed one of your parents as a supporter, while you viewed the other, as a challenger. This was not about love, this was about learning. Who fit in each role for you when you were a kid?”I asked.
“Ken, I love both my parents and feel close to each of them in special ways!”she replied.
“This is not about love, Giselle…this is about learning!”I said again, then added,
“Who was the flexible one and who was the inflexible; who was the hard one and who the soft; who was in your corner and who made you follow the rules…who could you depend on to support you most of the time, and who could you depend on to challenge you most of the time?”
“When you say it that way..Dad was my supporter and Mom my challenger!”
“Ken, are you saying our gender does not determine how we nurture?”
“OK, but now take it a step farther. Did your Dad only do fatherly things like work and provide for his family or did he also do motherly things?”I asked her.
“It’s funny you should say it in that way…my Dad was the one who got us up for school, made the lunches and got us to the school bus on time. Mom worked shift work back then and was often not there in the morning.” Giselle replied.
I continued the idea by asking, “And did your Mom only do motherly things like cook meals and do laundry or did she also do fatherly things?”
“Ken, in our family Mom made the most money…Dad was seasonally employed in the fishery…so Mom was the primary breadwinner. But, why would you ask me these questions?”
“Giselle, I’m asking you to notice how you Dad and Mom, fathered and mothered you, nurtured you and your siblings, in many different ways which were not determined by their gender!” I said.
“Ken, are you saying our gender does not determine how we nurture?”she asked in surprise.
“You have placed higher value on other ways of nurturing people.”
“Giselle, we all nurture in some way because it is important for our survival. But the form or style of our nurturing is more dependent on our value system, than on our biology. It has been estimate at least 20% of women today decide not to bear children at all and this figure is growing.”
“Do you mean there is nothing wrong with me even if I don’t want to have my own children?”
“Giselle, there is nothing wrong with you at all. It simply means you have placed higher value on other ways of nurturing people…if you like, other ways of mothering and fathering.”
Giselle stared off into the middle distance for a few seconds, so I continued, “So tell me what are some of the ways you nurture others, that perhaps, you haven’t been noticing or appreciating in yourself, Giselle?”I asked.
“Do you mean I am already a mother…a parent…just in different forms?”she asked, clearly surprised.
Everyone nurtures other people, mother and father other people…”
“Like me, Giselle, I bet you have met many people, who were not raised by their biological parents. Yet, they were mothered and fathered by someone, because that’s how they survived and evolved to be who they are…everyone gets parented by someone…parenting just comes in many different forms.”.
“So yes, you are a mother already! Everyone nurtures other people, parents other people…most just don’t recognize the forms they use. Your forms will be within your value system which comes from your life experiences. That’s what ‘volunteerism’ is often about…and why it is so popular today…people parenting others. So, tell me some of your forms of mothering you engage in today, Giselle!” I said.
“Ken, one of the best parts of my job is I get to mentor new human resource professionals in my own business, but I also do some mentoring with community groups…I have four beautiful nieces and nephews who I get to parent fairly often on weekends and during the summer…I have been a long serving and active member of our local ‘Women in Business’ association…and with Gordon’s coaching, we often have kids for meals and travel with them to games regularly.”
“Your potential is more than can be expressed within the bounds of any role, race or relationship.” – King Ayles, author
“Are you saying my forms of parenting are just as important as my brother and sister’s form?
“Are you starting to see your form of parenting…how you nurture the next generation of human beings who will determine our future world, Giselle?”
“Yes I am, but are you saying my forms of parenting are just as important as my brother and sister’s form?” she asked.
“You have probably heard the African saying, ’It takes an entire village to raise a child!’, well this is why most people have heard it…because it’s true! And the impact of these other forms of parenting are just as important! Imagine the impact on your family, your business and your community if you were not there to use your special nurturing, your special mothering!” I added.
“When you look at it that way, it really changes how I see myself, and my life…it is not just OK to mother, parent or nurture others my own way…it is important and essential…is that what you’re really saying, Ken?”
“Yes I am Giselle! Imagine for a moment the cost, just to your nieces, nephews, brother, sister, Mom and Dad, if you were not nurturing them just the way you have been doing it?”
“What are the benefits to you that this is your form of parenting?”
“Ken, if Gordon and I weren’t there at some crunch points in our family’s past, the stress on our family, especially my parents, would have been unreal. I remember the time my nephew broke his leg playing soccer, and we did a lot of the meals, transportation and emotional support for my brother and his family. That took the responsibility off of our parents, who were struggling with the flu…and there are lots more stories just like that.”
“So Giselle, lets take this a further step…what are the benefits to you from this form of parenting?”
“Ken, looking at it this way, and seeing the truth of it, not just for me, but for lots of other people…it really inspires me to be myself, to honor who I am, and to do what I want to do with my life…I feel free from the burden of other people’s value system…and, I feel free of the guilt and confusion, as well!”
“Can you also see how your perceptions of your family and friends was the motivator for you to learn to honor yourself as you are, and, not as other’s might want you to be?”
“The truth of it!”
“Yes I can see that now!”she replied with a soft, relaxed smile spreading across her face.
“Giselle, this is an important, emerging concept within our society which is drawing increased attention. You may also want to check out some recent developments. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio news show called, Day 6, recently focused on women who choose not to be traditional mothers. Here’s a quote, “‘No-Mos‘, or ‘Not Moms’ – are are becoming an increasingly vocal, mobilized force, determined to redefine the cultural narratives of motherhood and womanhood.” Hhere are some other sites they mention: http://lifewithoutbaby.com/ http://gateway-women.com/?s=No+Mos&submit=Search
“Thanks for alerting me to these resources. I will check them out.” She replied, then she paused and then said, “So, it looks like I’m a special form of nurturer, I am doing my mothering in ways I didn’t notice before…and, they are ways which respect my values, and contribute just as much to others as more traditional forms of mothering! I like the way that sounds when I say it out loud…and there is truth in it…eh, Ken?”
“Yes Giselle, and that’s what I want you to remember…the truth of it!
Giselle went on to remind her family, gently but firmly, of her forms of mothering and the impact of it on their lives. They were quite quick to see the truth of her nurturing and its benefits for them.
Until Next time…
Our ANXIETY, WORRY & STRESS themes continue. We have now dealt with six of the seven forms: spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, social and familial (today’s topic). Still to come is physical. And remember to look for the connecting videos for each of the stress topics.
Also, please remember to send us your feedback and monthly theme suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question about dealing with worry, anxiety or stress, contact me.
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
- You were constantly mothered and fathered throughout your life by someone.
- You are continually mothering and fathering others in your relationships.
- You are constantly being nurtured, parented, mothered and fathered in life.
- You have been nurtured in a variety of way to ensure your survival.
- Every person you have ever met helped you learn things for your survival.
- Every person mothers and fathers others in their life.
- The diversity of mothering and fathering ensure the species’ evolution.
- Choosing not to bear children does not stop mothering, it changes its form.
- Choosing not to father children does not stop fathering, it changes its form.
- Your style of parenting will be based on your values and will be perfect for you.
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com