By Aurelia Williams
If you hear someone described as a "supermom", immediately you think of someone who is good at everything that she does. She is the mom who manages her household flawlessly while working a full-time job and carpooling kids to after-school activities. A "supermom" is a mother who puts the needs of her family above her own and wants to be that dependable person who volunteers on every school committee.
Basically, a "supermom" is a mother with an overextended schedule and rarely does she do everything well.
Parents are the best and most important teachers in their kids' lives and very often kids will watch and imitate what their parents do, even if it seems as though they don't listen to what their parents say. So let's deconstruct the fictional supermom character and see what lessons her children may be learning from this behavior.
A supermom generally does not ask for help, hence the reason why most moms still do all the cooking and cleaning, even if they work a full-time job. The reasons for this may vary, from their spouses think running a household is still "women's work" to the kids are too busy with homework and activities.
Supermom's children who watch this behavior will start to think that: someone will always take care of me; it's a show of weakness to ask for help; or it's a woman's job to do everything for her family. This is an unbalanced view of life, especially for the college freshman who is now living on his own and can barely manage because mom has always cleaned up after him. This same son may also expect his own wife to take care of everything, which could lead to marital problems.
Someone who is in the supermom trap feels the need to volunteer or help everyone who calls, whether it is for family, church, or school. Learning how to say "no" to some of these obligations is tough but worthwhile because it will lighten supermom's schedule.
Children naturally question if they can have everything or participate in every activity. They have a natural curiosity to try something new or to continue lessons in which they excel. But if supermom has trouble saying no to her own commitments, then she will also have trouble limiting her children's schedule. While after school activities are fun and exciting, if they cause a student's grades to suffer, then cutting back should be a priority.
Saying "no" to certain activities also teaches the children that there are limits in life and that you cannot participate in everything. This is common sense from a monetary viewpoint as well as from a time viewpoint. Also, learning how to say "no" will do children well when faced with such issues as teen sex or peer pressure.
Another trouble spot for supermoms is that everyone else's needs come before their own and they rarely get the time to do something fun for themselves. This can drain your energy to always be giving to everyone in the family but it can also affect one's self-esteem, thinking that your needs and your fun ideas are not important.
Parenting experts agree that children suffer from low self-esteem in record numbers so it's important to give validity to their original ideas. Even if you think a certain activity will be boring, give it a try for your child to show him or her that their ideas matter. If they want to paint their room black, make a compromise and paint one wall black. If parents always tell the kids what is good or bad, they will hesitate to voice their own opinions in adulthood.
Many women who deem themselves "supermoms" may hesitate to change their habits, thinking it is too difficult or that they are too important to a certain committee. These supermoms need to realize that even though the road may be difficult, the reward will be great when their children see their mother taking care of herself and can spend quality time with them.
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