The Good the Bad and the Daunting Legacies from our Mothers

By Val Boyko • March 17th, 2011

a mother's legacyWhen we think about the legacies from our mothers it’s natural to recall all of the good things that we share. For example my Mom has a lot of energy and independence. I like that about her and myself. That’s a good legacy for me to have from her! Other women have told me how they appreciate their mother’s support for them to follow their dreams and be the best they can be. These are the really good legacies.

However, we also receive legacies from our mother that we don’t like or appreciate at all. These often become the “bad” parts of ourselves that we tend to deny or keep hidden. An example for me is my tendency to be controlling. (Notice how I didn’t say absolute “controlling” just a tendency 😉 This is a part of me that I have never liked and dismissed,and then began to work on.

An other “bad” legacy example might be where a mother avoids conflict or dealing with negative feelings. This can also be passed down to daughters. We may deny it, or feel bad about it and continue the legacy of conflict avoidance, inadvertently passing it down to our own daughters. However, the “bad” can become good when we acknowledge the aspect of our  mothers that we don’t like in ourselves, and have the courage to work towards overcoming the issue.

The third and most daunting of all legacies comes from mothers who have caused us pain. The hurt might have been from a lack of something, such as being held or an encouraging word. At the other end of the spectrum is the damage caused through abuse and mental cruelty. These legacies from toxic mothers are the daunting ones because they are associated with so much pain. However, they can also be the most powerful of all.

With hardship comes resilience, perseverance and a will to survive and thrive despite our mother’s behavior. It may take a lot of help, therapy and hard work to get to a place of empowerment, but I have spoken to women who succeeded in carving out a different path for themselves.  They consciously chose not to be like their mothers, and decided how they wanted to treat their loved ones differently.

I salute every daughter of a toxic mother who has created her own legacy from the one of pain that she inherited.

No matter what kind of mother we have or have had, their legacies live on within us. When we are ready, we get to choose what we do with them as we pass our own legacies on.

Val’s comment: Think about the legacies you have inherited from your mother. Which ones are Good? Bad? Daunting? How are you choosing to live these legacies out and pass them on?

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