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14 Signs That You Have An Unconventional Mom

14 Signs That You Have An Unconventional Mom

Unconventional moms break the traditional roles of motherhood, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make excellent mothers. My own mom dabbled on the side of the unconventional mostly because she was ahead of her time. I didn’t realize this until I got older and became a mother myself, which is probably why I turned out the way I did. I became “that mom” — the one who wears the weird shirts and the cool shoes, the one the kids want to talk to, and the one “who let her daughter dye her hair pink.”

Being unconventional doesn’t mean you break with all tradition. In fact, we grew up with several traditions, especially around holiday time. My mom and I still appreciate and pass along things like etiquette and good manners to our children. We insist on thank-you notes and shaking hands and giving up seats for elderly. My parenting is unconventional in part due to my upbringing, my reaction to the cards I’ve been dealt, and the choices my husband and I have made because both of our children have congenital and chronic illnesses. We want to give our children ample opportunities to make choices, to make mistakes, and to make their lives great — which is the goal of every parent. I know I’m unconventional in my parenting, but I’m okay with being a bit outside the box.

Wondering if your mom is unconventional? Here’s a list of qualities to look for.

1. She doesn’t expect perfection.

This is a big deal. We live in a world where everyone has to win and everything has to be the best. Of course she hopes you’ll succeed and she’ll be your biggest cheerleader, she just won’t push you to win, win, win at any cost. You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be you, and that’s good enough for her.

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2. She lets you experiment.

Life is an adventure. You have to stick your neck out a little. You have to experiment. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes not so good. Like the time you poured dish soap in the jacuzzi to make bubbles and ended up with a foamy disaster. Or the time you thought you’d test your independence that first time your parents went out of town and, well, you know the rest. But experimenting also gave you the courage, skills, and knowledge you still use to this day. You can thank your unconventional mom for that freedom.

3. She looks pretty in party dresses, but can still rock graphic tee’s and Chuck Taylor’s.

Her sense of style may not fit the usual “Mom” mold, and maybe she teeters on the embarrassing side, but like it or not, her unconventional fashion is no statement at all. It’s just her being her, and that in itself is a statement you should be proud of. What’s she’s doing is raising you to like yourself and be proud of yourself (to borrow a phrase from Bridget Jones’s Diary) “just as you are.” I’m proud of my collection of high-tops and retro t-shirts, but love to put on the fancy stuff too.

4. She’ll never be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Or maybe she will, simply because it’s hot outside and you’re both hungry.

The point I’m trying to make is that she’s no stereotype. If she’s doing anything that fits a mold, it’s probably an accident or because she’s choosing it for another reason — that reason is usually you. She loves you and no matter what she does, against the grain or not, you’re her priority.

5. She’s not afraid to pursue her passion.

Yes, you’re her priority, but she’s not afraid to go for an opportunity in life. She’s just really good at making it all work out. Though your schedule may look like someone dropped ink on a checkerboard, be sure your mom’s got it (or at least, really good at pretending to have it) under control. My mom was a registered nurse who did the night shift to make it work for us. With three kids, our calendar looked like the cat threw up on it.

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6. She lets you dye your hair, get piercings, or dress differently.

Though this isn’t always the case, unconventional moms are usually way more lenient in the “get your freak on” department. This is especially good for teens exploring their inner selves. My mom didn’t love it, but she didn’t ground me for life when I graduated high school with purple hair.

7. She talks to you about the taboo stuff.

That’s right — I mean the stuff other parents don’t want to talk about. Sex, drugs, alcohol, STDs, birth-control, whatever. She’s so willing to talk about it that your friends come to her for advice. It’s almost embarrassing, but it’s also cool at the same time. It’s better to talk to Mom than to Google. Trust me, you get all kinds of weird YouTube videos and then viruses and it’s all downhill from there.

8. She not only listens to you, she hears you.

It’s great that you and your friends can talk to your unconventional mom about the taboo stuff, but what’s better is that she’ll actually listen to you. She doesn’t try to force her opinion down your throat. She doesn’t instantly judge you or try to change your mind. She hears you and then helps you figure out what you need from her.

9. She wants you to fail.

Read carefully: She wants you to fail. She doesn’t want you to be a failure. Failing is okay because you can learn from it. She wants you to use that moment as a tool. She wants you to improve and grow from that situation. Like the time I failed organic chemistry in college. Mom was right — I learned from that experience and even changed my direction in life thanks to that one failure.

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10. She doesn’t believe in doing things “by the book.”

That’s because she wants to frustrate the hell out of you. Because doing it the normal way is boring. Because you need to figure it out for yourself. Yada yada. Whatever her reasoning is, you’ll appreciate it in the long run. Especially when you get to college and get thrown into group projects and have to use your own brain to think outside the box. All that experience fending for yourself will come in handy.

11. She doesn’t gossip.

She won’t sit around the coffee shop talking about other moms or kids.

12. She doesn’t need money.

We’ve been rich, we’ve been poor. Mom found ways to make life cool either way.

13. She loves you differently from your siblings.

Say what you will, but it’s true. Unconventional moms have different relationships with each child and aren’t afraid to admit it. It’s not that they love one more than the other, it’s that they’re comfortable loving each child in his or her own unique way. Just because my brother gets a day with my mom doesn’t mean I have to get a day with her. Her gift to me might be something else.

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14. She loves you unconditionally.

No matter what you say or do, unconventional moms love their children… to Venus and back. (You didn’t expect me to go all traditional now, did you?)

Featured photo credit: anton petukhov via flickr.com

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Missy Mitchell

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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