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The Influence of Mothers on Our Lives

Jeff Anderson
By Jeff AndersonMay 8, 2013

A Place for Mom’s annual Mother’s Day survey asked readers to reflect how their mothers have shaped them and how their relationship has changed over time. Readers also contributed  practical advice and life-lessons that they learned from their mothers. Some of the overarching themes of reader’s impressions of their mothers emerge in this graphic built of the terms that appeared most in the lessons readers shared:

While it will come as a surprise to no one, our Mother’s Day survey confirmed the saying that “mothers write on the hearts of their children what the world’s rough hand cannot erase.” Respondents overwhelmingly (90%) described their mothers as inspirational to themselves and others.

Advice on Happiness, Relationships and Living

Respondents were asked to describe their mother in one word and “loving” was at the top of the list. Another question asked readers what area of their lives their mother most positively influenced, and respondent’s most common response was “my relationships with others.” Accordingly,  advice about love, relationships and family was at the forefront when the survey asked readers to share the most important lesson they’ve learned from their mothers:

  • “If the choice is laugh or cry, then laugh.”
  • “Read. Learn. Be kind.”
  • “Do what you can with what you have and hope for the best.”
  • “Live life to the fullest, even in the hard times.”
  • “Don’t ever get too mad.”
  • “Always appear as a duck. A duck looks graceful as it crosses the pond, but underneath it’s paddling, paddling, paddling and working hard to get to where it’s going. Appear as the duck.”
  • “Love will always overcome any obstacle.”
  • “I am as important as anybody but not more important than anyone.”
  • “It is important to be kind to your family, because you are stuck with them forever.”
  • “Enjoy every single day with each other as
    much as possible.”
  • “Surround yourself with people that lift you up and make you laugh!”
  •  “Take one day at a time and do as much possible in those days.”
  • “Recognize the beauty in small things.”
  • “Offer support however you can for your children, never allowing them to believe for a moment that they can’t accomplish their goals.”
  • “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
  •  “Seek first to understand, not to be understood.”
  • “There will always be somebody with more than you, but there will always be somebody with less than you. Be thankful for what you have.”
  • “Money is not the object of living.”
  • “Be passionate and be yourself while caring for others.”
  • “Work hard and always have something for yourself.”
  • “Be non-judgmental and accepting of all people.”
  • “It’s not what you say but how you say it.”
  • “Never cut someone out of your life. Forgive and forget.”

Advice on Strength and Coping

Bar graph
Behind “loving”, “strong” was the second most popular terms readers used to describe their mothers. Readers also head a wealth of advice to share in these areas.

  • “Don’t give up. Remember your roots. Stay strong, and if all else fails, have a good cry (but privately)!”
  • “You cannot control what life gives you, but you can control how you handle it.”
  • “Failure is not an option. Do whatever it takes to fulfill your obligations.”
  • “Don’t spend your valuable time and energy working at a job you dislike.”
  • “Always have a good pair of red heels and red purse.”
  •  “No matter what obstacle you are facing, no matter how difficult, daunting or terrifying, if you attack it with everything you are made of you will always prevail.”
  • “Life is not fair – get over it.”
  • “Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s easier than the alternative.”
  • “If you’ve got it flaunt it!”
  • “Everything happens for a reason”
  • “Be tough and seek The Lord.”
  • “Things in life don’t always go the way we want. Adapt and overcome.”
  • “Never depend too much on someone else.”
  • “Remember to breathe in the challenging times.”

Evolving Relationships

Caregiving bar graph

We also asked readers to tell us about their relationship with their mother now, and how it has evolved over time. Only 10% of respondents have reported growing apart with time. The majority said that they usually or always seek their mother’s advice before making a major decision, and half reported that they find themselves seeking their mother’s advice more often as they age. But mothers are seeking their adult children’s advice too: 60% of respondents reported that their mothers consult them for advice before making major decisions of their own.

Our survey also touched on how roles can, in some respects, become reversed as our mothers grow old. 65% of respondents report that they are parents themselves, and 62% of respondents said that they have taken on a caregiving role for their mother.  Of those respondents who reported adopting a caregiver role, 42% indicated that it was a “blessing”, 28% said they’re gradually adjusting, and 36% said that the role is challenging.

Jeff Anderson
Jeff Anderson
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