Pushy Mum (and Dad) Syndrome

We are all familiar with Pushy Mum Syndrome: the mother whose energies are entirely devoted to advancing her child’s chances in life. All her ugly ducklings are swans, if only the world would see; and how hard she works to make sure the world does see! Pushy Dad Syndrome also exists but can be harder on the little chip off the old block, who is expected to be everything his father never was — and more. I wonder whether Mr and Mrs Zebedee would recognize themselves in that description, the pushiness and the fiery temper being among their traits passed on to their sons. When the mother of James and John approached Jesus to ask a special place in the Kingdom for her sons, I daresay both parents justified their ambition by claiming it was not for themselves. They were only interested in the good of their children. The put-down Mrs Zebedee received must have delighted the other disciples, though they may have shivered at what Jesus had to say about servanthood (Matthew 20.17–28).

Today’s gospel alerts us to two things most of us would rather not think about: the way in which we can deceive ourselves about our true motives — doing things for the good of others is surely irreproachable — and our reluctance to embrace the sacrifice that following Jesus necessarily involves. Scrutinising our own motives isn’t easy and often requires someone else to show us what we would rather not see. It can be painful, but we need to remember that truth is ultimately not only freeing but healing, too. As to sacrifice, we are surely far enough into Lent for everyone to realise that it is not the little sacrifices we take on ourselves that count, but the unexpected ones God sends us that matter. If that sounds rather severe on this lovely spring morning, there is something more we could reflect on. God desires only what is best for us, genuinely so. In him there is no trace of Pushy Mum or Pushy Dad, only infinite love and goodness.

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5 thoughts on “Pushy Mum (and Dad) Syndrome”

  1. I can’t claim to have been a pushy parent, because I was content for my children to be themselves and to find their own way in the world. Whether I did them any favours by this attitude isn’t for me to say. But they’re alive, working and not in prison, so something went right.

    Perhaps my hesitation is that when they were in their mid-teens, we had a marital breakdown, which took them out of my immediate life, and I was separated from them physically and more to the point, emotionally.

    Fortunately, we remained on good terms, but I can’t claim any success or bathe in their glory, because I don’t feel that it either appropriate or deserved. Confession time I suppose – because the feeling of having let them down is still with me some 30 odd years later.

    I’m content to be reconciled and for them to make the choices – I’m fortunate enough to be involved with Grand Children so that’s some consolation.

    Could I have done better? That’s a question that I have asked myself, and come up with the same answer. Living together with their mother was damaging them due to constant arguments and even on occasion violence (on me), I had to leave for my peace of mind, let alone physical safety. So, I did what was necessary for me, but not without an enormous burden of guilt to carry for years to come.

    It took a good 25 years of life, returning to God and reconciliation through confession to lay it aside, but like any form of grief, it remains in the background as the scars that shape our life experience.

    God is merciful and hopefully I will find that out when I meet him eventually

  2. The focus of your topic is a reassuring reminder to carry on in faith because God is in charge, no matter the circumstances. Accepting what God sends requires that I pay attention and open to the opportunities to lovingly pray my way through all the day. Difficulties are the stuff of life that especially require the gift of God’s grace and if I close the eyes and ears of my heart to my neighbor, during those times, I will in all actuality abandon moments of closeness in which Our Lord is drawing near to my cold heart to revive and strengthen it with His loving mercy. I particularly appreciate the comfort you offer to to your contemplating reader, that nudge reminding us, who so easily forget, that God wants our highest good. He does not hand to his children a snake, but their daily bread, in otherwords. God the Holy Spirit is my very Breath and deserves my full and willing attention, participation, and trust in His ongoing salvivic activity. Yes, He deserves my trust. I might falter during challenging times, but clinging to Him in His word and command to love my neighbor as myself is the way to exercise openness to the fullness of His Presence. More aware of Him, I can pray as it has been prayed before, “Have Your way with me Lord. Please, have Your way!”

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