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The 10 Best Things a Mother Ever Told Her Child

The 10 Best Things a Mother Ever Told Her Child

 

mother with child on hip

              

    In the modern age of online self-improvement tips and self-help books, we seem to have lost our way on some of the most basic things in life. When I say basic, I mean the things our mothers (and fathers) have been telling us for as long as we can remember.  Now, I know that not everybody’s parents are clinicians, psychologists and self help gurus.  And furthermore, we all know that our parents didn’t walk three miles to school, both ways, in the snow, without shoes. 

    But I think that it is pretty safe to say that some of the folk wisdom handed down from generation to generation was handed down for a reason.  It was useful and it made sense.  Moreover, much of it has now been shown to be scientifically sound.  So maybe it’s time we turn off our smart phones and tablets and get our information the old fashioned way— by asking our mothers (and fathers).  So here are some of my favorite gems of conventional wisdom.

    Do it until it’s done.

    family gardening

      It turns out to be true that those of us that show the best task persistence actually do better in many areas of life.  I often hear my own kids asking, “How much longer do I have to do this for?  How long do I have to study?  How long do I have to clean my room for? Now I think back to my fairly stress free childhood, and I know that I had it easy compared to many others of my generation and before, but I remember this: “You do it until you are finished.”  That might be one hour.  That might be 10 hours.  But you are finished when the job is done. 

      It turns out that task persistence matters. So do your best and finish a job.  And when you get to the point when you think you can’t do any more, think again and go try some more. 

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      Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, does a beautiful job of making this point.  In one chapter in which he discusses why some people do better than others at mathematics, he goes into our attitudes towards mathematics.  Those who give up and say “I can’t do this. I need you to show me how” not surprisingly don’t do as well at mathematics as those who say “I can’t do this yet.  I need to take a different approach”. 

      Gladwell goes on to describe the TIMSS test, in which every four years an international group of educators administer a comprehensive mathematics test to elementary and junior high school students around the world.  Before the students sit the exam, they fill in a questionnaire which asks them all kinds of questions relating to, for example, their parents’ level of education, who their friends are, and so on.  This is a tedious and demanding questionnaire.  In fact it is so tedious that many students leave as many as 10-20 questions blank.  The average number of questions answered varies from country to country.  But here is the interesting part.  The number of questions answered on the questionnaire correlates perfectly with the number of questions answered correctly on the actual TIMSS exam.  In other words, those who persisted in answering the questionnaire questions also persisted in “figuring out” the maths questions and did better on the mathematics exam as a direct result. So if you do a thing until it is done, you will do much better on mathematics exams, but also in other arenas of life.

      It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
      bullying in magnets

        Being nice costs you nothing. But not being nice is costing us all dearly.  There are lots of different iterations of this piece of advice, but it basically comes down to having respect for people.  Again, in our fast paced modern lives, we are often so busy that we forget to be nice.  This might be shocking to a generation gone before us, but it is true for many of us today.  And we hand this attitude right down to our own kids and then we are surprised to hear that bullying is on the rise, in the schools, in the workplace and even in old people’s homes.

        Why are we surprised?  It seems to me that what has happened here is that people have forgotten the importance of being nice and that has trickled into every institution we are part of.  School systems and other organizations are now required by law to have a “policy on bullying” and a “code of conduct”.  Why? Because we are all forgetting to be nice to such a degree that it is psychologically damaging to those around us.  One American study on the Kansas School System (see Kansas Communities That Care Survey) found that 60 percent of students reported being bullied.

        Teachers in those same schools estimated that approximately 16 percent of those students were being bullied.  That’s quite a discrepancy between what is happening and what teachers are aware of.  Some further interesting statistics on bullying include that a child is bullied every 7 seconds and that 20-30 percent of school age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either the bully or the victim.  Finally, researchers also report that 60 percent of those characterized as bullies in grades 6-9 had a least one criminal conviction by the age of 24.  So what has happened here? We are forgetting to be nice.  We are so caught up in being important, being popular and getting ahead (in the school yard and the work place) that we have completely forgotten to be nice.  This “forgetting” has long term implications for all parties involved.

        Education is no burden to carry. 

        child writing

          Doing well in school predicts how well you will do in life.  While this piece of advice likely brings to mind the wonderful work of author and film maker, Dionne Brand, this is advice that is not just for women and not just for black women.  My parents used to say when I was going to school, “Study hard.  Learn a lot”.  So while perhaps this is less eloquent than Education is no burden to carry, in many ways, it makes the same point.  The more you know, the farther you’ll go.  The better we educate ourselves, our children, our society, the more opportunities we will have.

          When you are a child and looking out the window of your classroom on a sunny day, it might feel like school and studying are a burden.  But the fact of the matter is that doing well in school predicts how well you will do in life.  The longer you stay in school, the higher your intellectual skills will be.  Research has shown that people who score well on IQ tests have more successful jobs, earn more money, and are even happier and healthier.  So while we all know examples of famous and successful people who did well in life, we should remember that these are exceptions to the rule, they are not the norm.  For most of us, if you get your head down and work hard in school, you will have a more successful life and you will be happier and healthier too.  So education is not a burden.  It is a path to success.

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          Never go anywhere without a good book. 

          KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

            It has been shown in a number of studies that people who read a lot have better developed vocabularies and perform better on cognitive tasks (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998).  The pioneering work of Todd Risley and colleagues has shown us that exposure to a greater number of words through speech and reading has major implications for increasing your later life’s success.  Also, on a practical note, you never know when you are going to be stuck in a queue at the bank or doctors office so in the spirit of modern day multi-tasking, let’s use that time to our advantage.  In fact, go one step further—enjoy that time!

            Don’t look for love in a bar.  Look for love in a library.

            Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

              Ok, so this one is probably not one you have heard before.  In fact, the only mother I ever knew who imparted this wisdom was my own.  Being a librarian herself, it would only have made sense to her to take someone seriously if you knew that they were interested in learning and books.  But this advice actually makes sense on a number of levels, and not just for book lovers.  In days of yore in the Western world, and also in some modern non-Western cultures, marriages were arranged based on what would best serve each family and people only married those people that were acceptable and accepted by their individual families and within their own social structure.  People who got married came from similar cultures with similar value systems and you know what? More often than not, these marriages worked.

              So now with all our new fangled notions of romance and freedom, and with all the choice that comes with that, we find ourselves in the modern world of more complex and cosmopolitan marriages, many of which could certainly not be called traditional.  So we have now got a lot of choice and people are not compelled to doing what culture, society or religion has dictated.  For the most part this is a good thing, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  There is a problem with this modern and advanced system too.  We have moved so far away from where we have come, that we don’t know what the value system is anymore. This is the problem.  One way to counteract this new system full of choice, surprises, and different ways of thinking is to seek out people with shared interests and values.  So whether that might be at the tennis club, the church or the library, it seems that seeking out a partner who shares your passions and ideals is a good idea.  Another good idea is to avoid being inebriated when you make these important decisions!

              Don’t make such a song and dance about everything.

                
              horse and buggy going uphill

                The way we interpret a problem influences how we deal with it.   This adage might be a useful tip for parents or teachers who are tired of hearing everything little thing that happened, every wrongful accusation and every crime done unto their little ones.  Of course, it should be remembered that kids need to vent their woes and they need someone to listen to them.  They need to know that how they think and feel about things matters.  But here’s the kicker, the way we interpret an event influences how we go forward.

                How do some people face severe adversity and trauma and come through to the other side as successful and productive human beings? It definitely has to do with how resilient that person is, but it probably also has something to do with the way they interpreted the situation in the first place.  It has to do with how they “told their story” and if they made the trauma/adversity the central feature of the rest of their lives’ story then they can remain stuck there and cannot move on.  If, on the other hand, the trauma was only one part of a greater life story and if it was interpreted as a “mountain I must climb” rather than “something I cannot accept or cannot overcome”, then it is very likely that person is still engaged with the trauma, rather than moving on to the next chapter.

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                Of course, I am in no way minimizing trauma or adversity.  Horrible and painful things happen every day and these stories need to be told.  But know this – how you write the story will dictate the next chapter.  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) practitioners view suffering as universal and report that the primary cause of human suffering is the intrusion of language into areas where it is not functional (see Hayes, Strosahl & Wilson 1999).  In other words, if we “think trauma” all the time, this is not functional and it is not helpful and it will not move us forward.  Rather, we can get stuck here because our mind tells us “this is trauma” and we react accordingly.  So it is our interpretation of the event, rather than the event itself that causes the situation to seem unbearable.  So it seems like the old adage, Don’t make such a song and dance about it, is a helpful one as it may help us to move on from difficult situations in life by reminding us not to get wrapped up in every single event in our lives.

                Don’t argue with fools or drunks.

                argument on street

                  If someone is very drunk or very foolish, the chances are, they may not be making sense.  So you could make some very well thought out and meaningful contributions to an argument.  In fact, hands down, you could win that argument! But what difference will it make?  Someone with very little intellectual capacity (whether that be related to too much alcohol or intellectual disadvantage) may not understand or remember your golden nuggets of truth.  So don’t waste your time.  Grab a good book instead.

                  Respect yourself.

                  parents holding childrens hands

                    We all hear about boundaries and how we need to set them for children.  Rules and boundaries are useful for a number of reasons when you are working with small children, but they are also important for the parents themselves.  In the 1960’s,

                    Psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted some research on parenting and parenting styles which is still widely considered to be of paramount importance in the parenting literature.  Baumrind suggested that there are three main types of parenting.  These types were authoritarian, authoritative and permissive.  Macoby and Martin added a fourth type (un-involved) in 1983.  Time and time again, the authoritative type of parenting has yielded the best outcomes for children in relation to academic and social and emotional success.

                    This is largely down to the fact that this type of parenting involves rules and guidelines to be followed, but parents continue to be warm and supportive.  This type of parenting lets children know where they stand, what is expected of them and what will happen if they fail to comply, but it also models compassion, flexibility and respect.  So these parents are respectful of their own children and respectful of their own needs as people too.  So they are modelling the very type of behavior that they expect and in so doing, teaching their children to treat people (and rules) with respect.  Because children of authoritative parents know what the rules are, they are also more likely to recognize when those same rules are being broken later on in life when they are involved in friendships, romantic relationships and when they are involved professionally with work colleagues.  So these same children will have the confidence to respectfully decline to be involved with people who treat them poorly as they grow into their adult selves.

                    Eat your vegetables.

                    vegetables

                      Eating well not only makes you healthier, it makes you smarter!  Well we all know that what you eat makes a difference to your weight, but why else should we eat our vegetables?  Well, my Dad often told me that eating carrots would help me to see in the dark.  It’s nearly 40 years later and I still don’t have night vision! But that aside, good nutrition which includes a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats seems to be a common theme even in the faddy diets of celebrities and superstars.  Why is this?  What properties or health benefits does having a healthy and balanced diet confer upon us?

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                      It turns out that eating well isn’t just about our waistline and it’s not just about physical health.  Eating well can also support your brain health.  It can stimulate intellectual development in a way that the fast food life style just cannot support.  One study, led by Arthur Agatson (cardiologist and creator of the popular South Beach diet) has published findings (along with colleagues Hollar, Messiah, Lopez-Mitnik, T Hollar & Almon) showing that improving the nutritional quality of school meals bolstered the academic performance of students over a two year period, in addition to lowering their weight and blood pressure.  Mathematics scores also improved for this group.  So eating healthy is not just important for your physical health, but it is also important for your brain health and academic development.

                      Don’t drive there when you can walk there.

                      girls playing soccer

                        Being physically healthy is good for you body and mind. It is pretty commonly known now that we all need to exercise more.  But this does not have to mean a gym membership.  There are many things that we can do in our every-day lives to increase our cardiac activity and one of these is walking places, instead of driving, whenever possible.  This also includes taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

                        But what evidence is there that there is a connection between how much we exercise and our overall health and well being?  In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services released new guidelines surrounding physical fitness for Americans.  These guidelines called for adults between the ages of 18 and 64 to exercise moderately for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week or to exercise vigorously for at least an hour and 15 minutes weekly.  This Department reported that the longer, harder and more often you exercise, the greater the physical health benefits including decreasing risk of cancer and diabetes.  Studies have shown that those who engage in the recommended amount of exercise live an average of three to seven years longer than those who do not.

                        A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people aged 50 years or older, with memory problems, scored higher on cognitive tests after a 6 month work-out regimen.  This result was 20 percent higher than their sedentary peers and a 10 percent edge was still measured one year after the trial ended.  Thus, exercising helps both your body and your mind. 

                        So where does this leave us? While I don’t advise people to believe everything they hear or everything they read, it looks like lots of the stuff our parents have been telling us is actually true.  And if you don’t believe me, I suggest you go ask your mother.

                        mother and child at lake

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                          Published on May 4, 2021

                          How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

                          How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

                          They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

                          In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

                          How to Spot Fake People?

                          When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

                          Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

                          1. Full of Themselves

                          Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

                          Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

                          2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

                          Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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                          It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

                          3. Zero Self-Reflection

                          To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

                          Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

                          4. Unrealistic Perceptions

                          Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

                          A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

                          5. Love Attention

                          As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

                          6. People Pleaser

                          Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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                          Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

                          7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

                          Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

                          8. Crappy friend

                          Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

                          It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

                          The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

                          How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

                          It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

                          There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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                          1. Boundaries

                          Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

                          2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

                          Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

                          3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

                          If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

                          4. Ask for Advice

                          If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

                          Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

                          5. Dig Deeper

                          Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

                          Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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                          6. Practice Self-Care!

                          Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

                          Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

                          Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

                          We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

                          More Tips on Dealing With Fake People

                          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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