And now to the questions posed:

1.     We all know the importance of “bonding” with our children. How should a healthy mother-child relationship change over the years?
To answer this, I will continue to use the circles I spoke of in On Mothering – Part 2 as a way of talking about this evolving relationship between mother and child.

When the child is young, the circles of the child and of the parent are importantly very overlapping. We are protecting them, nourishing them, and helping them to grow. They require our involvement in order to become healthy individuals. As they become older and move toward becoming their own person, the circle of the child and that of the parent will naturally go through a process of less and less overlapping, encouraging more independence and a healthy self for the child and a healthy, individuated self for the parent.

And of course remember, even as these circles separate, the separation is not a permanent breaking away. It is a cultivation of an individuated self for both the mother and child which then allows that healthy flow of coming together and moving away to occur over the rest of our lifetimes.
As I said yesterday, I have been asked to elaborate on this together-and-separate dynamic as it applies to mothering and will be doing so by responding to questions on this topic starting tomorrow.

First, I wish to offer this picture I use as I work with people and relationships:

I like to work with circles. I think of each person as being a circle. Each person or circle represents that person’s self.

Enmeshed relationships are where the two circles, representing two people, overlap almost completely. There is almost no differentiation between the two people, and in an enmeshed relationship, they stay locked this way, both persons contributing to this.

Alienated relationships are represented by the two circles not intersecting at all, not having shared space where the circles overlap to even some degree.

In a Healthy relationship, the two circles or two individuals are free to come together and to overlap as they mutually agree upon. Similarly, they are free to separate themselves some from the other as is healthy for them to do. There is a mutual give-and-take, a flow that respects both self and the other person.

I have most often used this mental picture with adult-to-adult relationships, but it certainly can be applied to raising our children. It applies to both mothers and fathers, but in this article I am simply addressing mothers as we honor us on Mother’s Day and look at what helps to create both healthy children and healthy selves.

So think about these circles as you go through your day. Remember you have one and your child has one. Our intent is, over a lifetime, to help each circle of self to be clear, strong, and honored for the person they/we are.

I will talk more about the circles tomorrow as I start answering some questions.
Being a mother is certainly one of the most wonderful experiences over our lifetime. And being a mother can be one of the most challenging experiences over our lifetime. I know this, because I am a mother.

As many of us remark over the years of raising our children, no one really told us how to do this. With all the classes we have taken in school, parenting was not taught. Seldom are there classes where the knowledge and wisdom of mothering is shared in an organized and meaningful way. Often we are on our own to perform this most important job.

One of the challenges of mothering is learning how to bond and how to let go of our child, learning when to stop doing things for our child so they can do those things for them self, learning that mother and child share much and at the same time are separate human beings.

These are important relationship issues we do not necessarily think of directly as we parent. We are so intent upon being a good mother and doing what we believe is best for the child that we don’t stop to consider this together-and-separate dynamic until we run upon a problem of some sort in our relationship with the child or with our self.

As a mental health therapist, I work a great deal with what I call tangled relationships, relationships in which one person is over-functioning, over-involved, or over-reactive to someone else. I speak of an entanglement as involving loss of self in someone else. In healthy mothering, we do not want to do this. In healthy mothering we want to constantly be working to keep a balance between our self and the child, honoring our responsibilities to them and honoring that each of us have a self to respect and cultivate.

I have been asked to elaborate on this together-and-separate dynamic as it applies to mothering and will be doing so by responding to questions that were posed to me on this topic in seven more blogs between now and Mother’s Day.

More tomorrow.
Me with my Mother and my Daughter
Spring Greetings!

Spring brings us many gifts: green grass, warmer temperatures, singing birds, and blooming flowers. It just brought us Easter, and soon we will have Mother’s Day.

As we have been marketing Disentangle, we have been looking at its many applications. One of those applications is to parenting, and even more specifically, the material in Disentangle can be applied to mothering.

In preparation for an article for Mother’s Day, my publicist asked me to answer some questions about how mothering can involve entanglements and what we as mothers can do to have our own self as we simultaneously help our child develop and then have their own self.

In my usual way, I wrote way more than she needed for the article we ultimately created. I liked the questions she had given me to answer, and I liked the answers I wrote. So I have decided to offer all that I wrote on mothering and entanglements in a series of blogs entitled On Mothering.

This blog is the announcement of this series On Mothering. There will be eight parts in this series which will run every day or so here on my website until Mothers’ Day on May 8th.

The series intends to help us mothers see how to have both healthy children and a healthy self. This can be a challenge and involve an on-going balancing act, but my experience is that it is so worth the effort for all concerned.
I love it when I am in the presence of people who are willing and wanting to look at themselves, and in this case, are trying to understand this disentangle material further and how it might relate to them.

I love it when I am in the presence of people who already get this material, who are wise to their over-controllingness or tendencies to people-please, fix, or over-function in someone else’s life.

I love it when someone says to me, “Oh, I bet the outcome of this work is happiness.”

The outcome of this work can be happiness, serenity, centeredness, and healthy growth for all involved.

Two wonderful radio interviews this morning filled me with these good feelings that can come from healthy conversations and efforts to really understand each other and to understand our self.

I say these things not because I am trying to sell books.

I say these things because I truly believe that our functioning as parents, friends, family members, community members, and creators of our social and political worlds involves us being willing to really stop and look at our self and see what we are bringing to our interactions with other people.

Beyond awareness campaigns and public information services, I believe I need to be willing to look at my deeper issues that keep me re-creating patterns of interactions that result in conflict, dissonance, alienation, and isolation for both my self and other(s). It is my willingness to do this self-examination and the work that follows that holds hope for the peace we all want.
Okay, so yes, only an hour or so has gone by since I wrote the previous blog, and I have been blessed with more to say today. You see, I believe that my quieting my self and going to my internal places, which I just wrote about in the previous blog, moves me to more within me. To move to more is not my intention in quieting my self. It is just that as I quiet my self and connect with me, rich internal things can be accessed and/or may come forth.

It is a beautiful Spring afternoon here with temperatures in the 70’s. My husband and I just took our dogs out on a walk to soak up sun and explore what’s growing. While out, I spontaneously said to him, “It is good I was grounded today.”

“In what way do you mean that?” he asked.

“Well, I meant it in that I was grounded today by Grace’s car breaking down the other day and her having to use my car to go to work today. By her having my car, I’ve had to cancel a couple of things I had on my schedule for today, and so I feel like I have been grounded.”

I said this in the spirit of a teenager who has had their plans canceled by their parents due to something that has happened. In the same way that the teen is likely to have been upset by their change of plans, so was I as my day started and I knew I could not do what I wanted to do.

And yet as the day has passed and I have quieted and settled, my being grounded has turned into me feeling grounded. What a blessing to have had things taken off of my to-do list for the day, leaving me with more time and space for my self.

It is a shame that it takes a car breaking down to clear my schedule and my life enough to deepen my personal grounding.

I want to learn to ground my self more often.

Blogging remains a very new thing to me. I often don’t have time to blog. I am not sure what to blog about. I don’t know if anyone is reading my blogs.

So today I have time to blog and am finding my way to what to say. I am moving my self away from all those external questions about what to say, how to say it, and how will people respond. I am using this time to quiet my self and listen to what my true self may have to say today, here and now.

I am grateful to have time today for my self. I have been very busy these last couple of weeks with events and radio interviews to help Disentangle find its way in the world. I have moved from one thing to another with little time in between to let things settle and find their places in my being. I don’t do real well with this state-of-affairs after a while. I need space within to process and to just let things be.

So in this moment that is what I can do: Let things be. Following my natural breath, I can quiet and calm my thoughts that want to rush into this next week, feelings that want to drag me back to the past or to the future. Over and over I encounter these pushes and pulls, and over and over I come back to my breath and my very present moment sensations to stay connected with me.

This connection with me is what keeps me out of entanglements. This connection with me gives me ground under my feet and an internal spaciousness that helps me to have an open mind and heart.

I am glad I know how to find my way to this place of mine.