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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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                          Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                          Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                          For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                          Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                          1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                          A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                          It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                          It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                          How it helps you:

                          If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                          Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                          2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                          Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                          Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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                          How it helps you:

                          Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                          Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                          If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                          Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                          3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                          Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                          Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                          How it helps you:

                          This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                          For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                          Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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                          A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                          4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                          To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                          A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                          How it helps you:

                          One word: hierarchy.

                          All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                          In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                          If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                          5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                          Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                          Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                          How it helps you:

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                          Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                          If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                          This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                          6. What do you like about working here?

                          This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                          Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                          How it helps you:

                          You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                          Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                          Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                          7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                          What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                          As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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                          How it helps you:

                          What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                          First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                          Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                          Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                          Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                          Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                          Making Your Interview Work for You

                          Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                          Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                          More Resources About Job Interviews

                          Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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