I winced a couple of times while watching The Guilt Trip when I heard Joyce Brewster, the endearing yet nagging mom, say word for word some of the things I have said to my own, grown sons. Ouch! Gallongs of ink have been used to write about our relationships with our mothers and yet communication can still be so difficult.
Without going so far as to say mom is always right, here are three lessons about moms I learned from watching The Guilt Trip:
1. Moms give tough love. We've been taught the rules. Don't talk back to your elders. Don't raise your voice with me! I'm right because I'm bigger and older than you. Anger is bad. Never yell at your kids.
According to philosopher Aaron Ben-Zeév, Ph.D., children often hurt parents in order to express their independence. Laying your own guilt trip on mom won't work. Even when you're an adult, you can still sound like a bully to your mom. She doesn't have to put up with it and can still kick your butt with some tough love when you've gone too far.
At one point, Joyce has to use her tough love approach on her son to reset a few boundaries that had been trespassed once too often, surprising him with an angry yet controlled outburst about her bottled up exasperation with his snide remarks. Learning how to confront one another respectfully about acceptable communication allows you to ditch those old rules without feeling guilty or destroying the other person.
2. Be authentic and endearing. While Andy is struggling to get people interested in his boring pitch that he is stubbornly sticking to, Joyce makes no excuses about who she is, funny quirks and all. People listen to her, help her and like her because she is so endearing in her quirky authenticity and open style. Who would have thought that she knew a thing or two about marketing? Confidently own who you are and what you want without guilt and then let the world come to you. Keep reading ...