An Occasionally Frustrated Mother = A Better Mother

An Occasionally Frustrated Mother = A Better Mother

Every mother sometimes feels angry at her kids.
Every mother sometimes feels irritated with her kids.
Every mother sometimes loses it with her kids.

And, it turns out, that’s a very good thing!

In this week’s New York Times Magazine, Journalist Andrew Solomon shared something which this occasionally ambivalent JewishMOM found fascinating, liberating, and comforting.

“The British psychoanalyst Rozsika Parker has argued that competent mothering requires two warring impulses — to nurture the child on one hand, and to push him or her into the world on the other — and suggested that maternal ambivalence was the catalyst for achieving these apparently opposed objectives.

“But modern society has stigmatized the pushing and sentimentalized the clinging, and so we have denied basic truths and caused ambivalent mothers to see themselves as bad even though ambivalence can be highly productive.

“Mothers often exaggerate, to themselves and to others, their protective, adoring feelings, and they discount their feelings of irritation or anger as weaknesses.

“But a child should meet with irritation and anger some of the time; he or she should understand what those emotions are, what provokes them, how they are expressed and how they are resolved.”

Three cheers for us! The imperfect/perfect moms!


  1. Batsheva

    I think this is interesting! I was wondering how some children from disciplined home turned out different.

  2. Shoshana

    I think it’s so much how the “negatives” are managed. If it’s in the 80/20 range of positive to negative then the irritation is part of the warp and weft of family life and it’s healthy and normal. Mom just has to hang on to herself much of the time, and that’s avodas hamiddos. If children don’t experience healthy negativity then it’s very hard to be an adult. When the dust setlles there is always time to talk, teach, explain and above all empathize. *NOT* saying I find any of this easy, I don’t, but I’m striving.

  3. That was nice to read.

    I found this line interesting that competent mothering is described as

    “to nurture the child on one hand, and to push him or her into the world on the other — ”

    Sounds like a great translation of..

    ” yemin mekarevet usmol doche”

  4. Esther G

    It is no surprise. Someone growing up with model parents can become very challenged when faced with the tough world out there. Perfect is not perfect, and better is not necessarily better. But then again there is no such thing as perfect and normal is just a cycle on the washing machine…….

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