Is this Motherhood issue more common in Catholicism?


#1

In my extended family lineage, there seems to be a pattern where the mother understands Catholicism, intensely loves her kids, over serves her kids (babies them?) by doing chores for them, then tries to steer and control their lives. There's nothing wrong with trying to steer them into faith formation, but many times this control carries over into other parts of the child's life. As a man, I'm trying to understand if there's a tendency for the mom to become so filled with love and faith (almost godlike?) that she wants so badly for her kids to feel and experience the same, but instead, some kids feel smothered or controlled to the point where they feel that they don't have their own choices, and then they go into some alternative rebellion against what the parents are trying to teach. It seems to me that some of parents are gripping too tightly, or hold on too long, where their desires for their kids to have this intense love and faith have actually scared the kids away from the ususal fall-in-love, get-married, have-kids pattern. The kids seem to want to have a single or alternative lifestyle simply for the sake of convincing the parent that the child is free to make his/her own decisions. It seems that these kids associate the intense parent's plans with the feeling of having no choices (because mom loved the kids, served them, then told them what to do) or life of their own. It seems there should be a balance rather than a do-all-you-can attempt. Does this make sense? Does this seem to be more common in Catholicism? I'm not a mom, so I'll never know, but is there an almost godlike intensity to the combination of deep love and faith for mothers?

For the children who have negatively associated the lack of free will with the intensity of love and Faith, how does one go about retraining the kids to peel these two distinct feelings apart? It seems that if the 2 feelings are always associated with each other, the child will never want to fall in love, get married, have kids, or be a faithful Catholic since it is associated with a lack of free will to live one's life as he chooses. It begs the question: are some people living artificial lifestyles in rebellion just because the parent wanted so badly to control it? How do we separate and liberate the 2, while teaching that it's OK to have Faith and Love and live the Way to a life of intense depth?


#2

When you say extenden family, is it particularly matrilineal?

My family going back a generation or two has matriarchal control issues, that I am just realizing how detrimental they are to me as a young man. In our case it has nothing to do with the fact that we are Catholic.

Another family I know the children did largely rebel, in that case I would point to a disparity between what the mother made the children observe (daily Mass at one point), compared to what the father supported (at that same point barely Sunday Mass). Those who were already in highschool or early elementary age were less affected than those in middle school (but there may also be contributing mental issues).


#3

I think the problem with your train of thought (as a mother) is that being:

Catholic = Controlling.

Catholic Faith = ability to love a child

Your theory gets blown when I look at controlling men who are not catholic that run their sons into the ground. Tough love they call it...

You have a point about trying to control someone's life. It's NOT a good idea.

There is a program out there called Love & Logic. It's a great parenting program to help parents empower their children with age appropriate decisions and life skills. Would you like cereal or toast? To the 4 y/o. Would you like to wear blue shorts or red shorts. A child starts to have SOME control over their life. They learn to make choices. As the child grows the decisions become more important. And you don't always SOLVE their problems. You listen to them. When a child comes home upset with their unfair teacher... You ask things like. Tell me what happened? How would you like to handle that? If it's a CRAZY idea, (like firing the teacher or putting the teacher in detention) you say something like... Ahhh, that would interesting if we could ACTUALLY do that. What things do you think you COULD do? Would you like some of my ideas to think about. Give them age appropriate chores. My 5 y/o's know they MUST clean the entire living room everynight before bed. (that's their play area.) and their room must be picked up. If they don't do it, mommy takes all the toys away for a long time. No fights. Just done.

And NO it's not always easy.

When it comes to our faith... We need to PRACTICE what we Preach. We need to give them all the tools to learn. We need to offer unconditional love, ESPECIALLY when they make mistakes, or don't do as they should. We talk about our religion and all the good it brings us. I think it's a huge mistake to brutalize with religion. Ridicule, judge. However, you see it all the time. The Catholic friends I have that aren't active, can not stand the constant judgement their parents hold over them. And if they were my parents, and I believed about the church what they represent, then Yeah, I'd run for the hills. But not to be rebellious, but to get away from the obvious cruelty, and disgust, shamefullness, that is often shown.


#4

Very interesting topic!!
In my opinion, I don't think this is a Catholic thing. You always hear the jokes about Jewish mothers, black mothers, Italian mothers, etc., and usually when you hear the jokes about the over possesive mothers, everybody laughs because they know it's true.

Possibly in your linage, all the women are that way from the learned behavior to control, rather than it having anything to do w/ being a Catholic. Seems these women are more into control than anything. And any child will rebel against not having freedom to be who God wants them to be, not who their mom wants them to be. It is almost like the moms are playing God in a sense. Their intentsions may come from the heart and be genuine, but they are for the wrong reason. Anyone who feels strangled, will try their best to brake free and get away. So these moms are actually driving their children away from what they so want them to have.

I really think it's a learned behavior, and none of them have realized that by totally trying to control, in the end it all backfires on them. The only person in life you can control is yourself. period.
I don't know if this helps, but I just see so many moms that try to run their children's lives, no matter what the religion. :(


#5

Yeah, I'm not sure it's a "Catholic" thing, but rather something related to people who have a very strong belief system that they feel is necessary to pass along.
This isn't a bad desire... but it has to be balanced out to try to avoid crazy "CONTROL" issues. UGH, I've seen this played out in so many scenarios and families over the years... and it's always stemming from the mother.
Don't assume I'm claiming to be perfect in this regard, but I've been blessed with more of an awareness, I think... and I'm blessed with a husband who helps temper outlandish "control" issues that I may want to take on.
It's definitely a struggle... out of love... but it's so CRITICALLY important to the souls of the kids that they are able to make decisions for THEMSELVES! It's NOT my "job" to "save the souls" of my kids... it's my job to inspire faith within them and let it grow by the grace of the Holy Spirit, not by the sheer will of their mother!
VERY good topic... :)


#6

I think there's often a pendulum swing between generations. Sometimes it's the revert parent who feels regret for having lost the faith and made bad decisions in their youth, who is determined to make sure their kids don't make the same mistakes by being overbearing with the faith - which in turn causes the kid to walk away from the faith. They then raise their kids to be 'free-thinkers', those kids get disillusioned with that way of life, come back to the faith of their grandparents, regret the bad decisions they made in their youth, are determined to make sure their kids don't make the same mistakes, become really overbearing about the faith, and so the cycle continues... I have seen the same thing in Protestant families, so it can't just be a Catholic thing.

I heard somebody on EWTN make a very good point - there are no perfect parents (except Our Lady), because if there were, there would be no need for God in the family.


#7

[quote="CDNowak, post:2, topic:209010"]
When you say extenden family, is it particularly matrilineal?

My family going back a generation or two has matriarchal control issues, that I am just realizing how detrimental they are to me as a young man. In our case it has nothing to do with the fact that we are Catholic.

Another family I know the children did largely rebel, in that case I would point to a disparity between what the mother made the children observe (daily Mass at one point), compared to what the father supported (at that same point barely Sunday Mass). Those who were already in highschool or early elementary age were less affected than those in middle school (but there may also be contributing mental issues).

[/quote]

Yes, matrilinear. I've seen the mother do so much for the child that the child was dependent and maybe never really learned to struggle and never really grew up, regardless of age. Struggle teaches people to solve their own problems. When parents keep doing too much for the kids, it seems the kids aren't motivated to grow up.

The other interesting aspect is that people in the family were quite opinionated about every little thing from food to clothes to TV. The opining was constant. When asked why I didn't move back to that small town, I cited all the constant unneccessary opining and gossip as my reasons. "You can't blame them because there's nothing else to do in a small town" was the excuse. I find the constant opinions about every little thing to be exhausting and not useful to humanity. Looking back, I think the opinions were about control and being right a la "you do agree with me, right." You weren't given much lattitude to disagree. If you disagreed, they might get mad at you or love might be withheld. I'm sure this type of scenario happens in other religions. I was wondering if it was due to love and caring, or some form of mini-god motherhood issue that I would never understand.


#8

No, this is not a *Catholic *issue. This is a *human *issue. You will find controlling mothers and controlling fathers in all races, religions, and cultures.


#9

I would agree with those who say this is not so much a Catholic issue as it is a cultural issue. It's just that some cultures tend to be made up mainly of people who are (at least nominally) Catholic.

(I couldn't help but think of the family on Everyone Loves Raymund when I read the original post in this thread.)

Obviously it's good when children recognize that both Mom and Dad are the dominant figures in the "family pack". But while be the dominant figures is important, being generally dominating is seldom a good idea. I do think that in certain cultures the mother tends to be both dominant and dominating within whatever section of the family structure is considered her regency.

I think the biggest problem with families where one parent is the "religious instructor" and the other parent is pretty much passive about Faith is that that kids see Faith as something as arbitrary as whether or not shoes should come off at the front door or be allowed in the house. When both parents take some sort of leadership role in passing along the Faith then kids take it more seriously.


#10

[quote="DL82, post:6, topic:209010"]
I think there's often a pendulum swing between generations. Sometimes it's the revert parent who feels regret for having lost the faith and made bad decisions in their youth, who is determined to make sure their kids don't make the same mistakes by being overbearing with the faith - which in turn causes the kid to walk away from the faith. They then raise their kids to be 'free-thinkers', those kids get disillusioned with that way of life, come back to the faith of their grandparents, regret the bad decisions they made in their youth, are determined to make sure their kids don't make the same mistakes, become really overbearing about the faith, and so the cycle continues... I have seen the same thing in Protestant families, so it can't just be a Catholic thing.

I heard somebody on EWTN make a very good point - there are no perfect parents (except Our Lady), because if there were, there would be no need for God in the family.

[/quote]

I agree with the part that parents who were neglected may turn out to be controlling to "undo" the damage done to them. And yes, it's true that this phenomena is across the board among the faiths....and I've seen it much among the Protestant/homeschooling/no birth control (NO NFP) groups.

I remember going to a very conservative protestant/fundamental homeschool moms' retreat. Several women had large families. One woman said after getting away that she was ready to get on a plane and leave. Some women simply SNAP, after having so much pressure put on them to be the perfect homeschool mom, wife, mother....helpmate/helpmeet. Whew, Debi Pearl's book on this is a whopper on this subject. My friend finally helped me see the light, and said she'd toss it into the fire one cold night.

Enough of my babble. I think all of us moms could use some encouragement to just lighten up, love our kids, play a lot with them, and let ourselves be loved a bunch so that we can give out....and to forget the treadmill of trying to be all things to all people, AND being perfect...because then when our kids aren't up to snuf, then we haven't done our job! (Doesn't that sound almost a little scary?)


#11

It's kind of funny this thread was made. My mom home schooled me and my siblings and she had several friends who home schooled as well. Most of them were far more controlling than my mom was. Several of them didn't even own TVs, wouldn't let their kids watch movies or things like that. Only let them hang out with people from the church and participate in church related social activities, etc. As it stands now, my and my siblings are pretty much the only ones still Catholic. I know that just about every single one of their kids had kids of their own prior to marriage, several have left the faith altogether, and a couple of them have divorced their spouse and married another even though they already have kids.


#12

[quote="tuscany, post:4, topic:209010"]
Very interesting topic!!
In my opinion, I don't think this is a Catholic thing. You always hear the jokes about Jewish mothers, black mothers, Italian mothers, etc., and usually when you hear the jokes about the over possesive mothers, everybody laughs because they know it's true.

[/quote]

It's funny, my first thought on reading the first couple of lines of the OP was "Have you spoken to a Jewish kid lately?" They usually have the same kind of complaint.


#13

Funny, but my first thought was, "Have you spoken to a Fundamentalist Protestant kid lately?"

I've seen some very sad situations in these households where the children are virtual prisoners, and when they are finally free, they go hog-wild committing every sin in the book. Heartbreaking for the parents who thought they were doing the right thing.


#14

Controlling mothers can come in any religion, culture, etc. We all knew as kids that mom was the more dominant one in the family. I think it is very unhealthy to be overbearing. It does backlash. I'm not a mother right now but I hope that, Lord willing, that happens that I will be a good mother and that both my husband and I will be able to bring up our children in the Faith and that they won't leave it. That is a fear of mine but I know that if I present it as something wonderful and lovely and true that it will stick with them.


#15

[quote="Bataar, post:11, topic:209010"]
It's kind of funny this thread was made. My mom home schooled me and my siblings and she had several friends who home schooled as well. Most of them were far more controlling than my mom was. Several of them didn't even own TVs, wouldn't let their kids watch movies or things like that. Only let them hang out with people from the church and participate in church related social activities, etc. As it stands now, my and my siblings are pretty much the only ones still Catholic. I know that just about every single one of their kids had kids of their own prior to marriage, several have left the faith altogether, and a couple of them have divorced their spouse and married another even though they already have kids.

[/quote]

This is quite common in the Protestant homeschooling communities and now the ideas are leaking into the Catholic homeschooling groups, particularly the Traditionalist groups. These kids are smothered to death with sheltering and have no choices about clothes, music, movies, some hobbies,etc. My blog deals with some of this.
thechurchfanatic.blogspot.com


#16

[quote="LLMom, post:15, topic:209010"]
This is quite common in the Protestant homeschooling communities and now the ideas are leaking into the Catholic homeschooling groups, particularly the Traditionalist groups. These kids are smothered to death with sheltering and have no choices about clothes, music, movies, some hobbies,etc. My blog deals with some of this.
thechurchfanatic.blogspot.com

[/quote]

I know. I am very concerned about this. It isn't Catholic. We are supposed to take the best of everything and see the good while shunning the bad. I am not happy with the smothering that goes on in some of these groups :(.


#17

Man on Fire you are right on and dont let any controlling women tell you other wise.

I was one of seven and my mother was the man of the house and a supposed devout Catholic. She had the motions and the words down pat but the raging outbursts and spankings and hair pullings, totally diminished any sense of Christ like love. Also the anger that was displayed in order to get 7 kids to church on time ended up negating the whole humility charity and patience angle. Instead of preparing the night before and being organized and focused it was just alot of kaos and non listening kids who were then told to go to confession.

I now have 5 kids and do not hold my mother accountable any more for what I have chosen to do with my faith. Almost all of my siblings are go through the motions catholic but have no clue about the true religion. And I am worse than them because I do academically know that this is Christs church founded on Peter and speaks for Him in every age. But that does not keep me from commitiing the mortal sins of being married outside the church and not having annulled my first so called marriage. It tears me up.

Enough about me and back to your point. I believe my mother and our Church has pushed away my siblings. Our church has done little in the way of pushing CA style apologetics so that Catholics know why they are Catholics. They should have Jason Everett DVD’s played every week in every School from 6th grade through college. They should have Tim Staples and Scott hahn and Jimmy Akin debates and discussions every week for the same period.

just my thoughts


#18

It seems like the key word is balance. We have 2 general rules for our 5 kids: have lots of discipline and lots of fun. This works well for us so far. I go out of my way to try to give them every opportunity to make their own decisions on the less critical issues. It seems that if they have choices, they will have hope that one day they can make all their own decisions. I see giving them choices as “practice” so that they will hopefully learn to develop good judgment while they’re younger. It seems that some parents love their kids and the Church so much that they dream of a controlled, no-surprises, rigid, ideal life for their kids. It seems to me that a lack of decision making in their youth might be partially responsible for the kids’ rebellion, but how much of their rebellion is simply giving in to pop culture’s shallow amusements for instant gratification rather than the depth of the Church? I’d love to know the answer.


#19

[quote="fulloftruth, post:17, topic:209010"]
Man on Fire you are right on and dont let any controlling women tell you other wise.

I was one of seven and my mother was the man of the house and a supposed devout Catholic. She had the motions and the words down pat but the raging outbursts and spankings and hair pullings, totally diminished any sense of Christ like love. Also the anger that was displayed in order to get 7 kids to church on time ended up negating the whole humility charity and patience angle. Instead of preparing the night before and being organized and focused it was just alot of kaos and non listening kids who were then told to go to confession.

I now have 5 kids and do not hold my mother accountable any more for what I have chosen to do with my faith. Almost all of my siblings are go through the motions catholic but have no clue about the true religion. And I am worse than them because I do academically know that this is Christs church founded on Peter and speaks for Him in every age. But that does not keep me from commitiing the mortal sins of being married outside the church and not having annulled my first so called marriage. It tears me up.

Enough about me and back to your point. I believe my mother and our Church has pushed away my siblings. Our church has done little in the way of pushing CA style apologetics so that Catholics know why they are Catholics. They should have Jason Everett DVD's played every week in every School from 6th grade through college. They should have Tim Staples and Scott hahn and Jimmy Akin debates and discussions every week for the same period.

just my thoughts

[/quote]

Your experience is interesting. If your mom could assess her approach and see that it wasn't effective, then why not change direction? I agree that the humility and patience angle would have been far more effective. It must have been very difficult with 7 kids. The mom in my extended family scenario "only" had 3 kids. That was part of the question of my original post: Is there some godlike control karma that grows in some moms? Is it simply that she received praise when the household appeared to be perfect, so she just wants that praise again? Is it competition and peer pressure from others to give the appearance of the perfect household? Is it some form of inferiority complex? Mother bear protection? Pride from living in the melting pot? Combination of these? It's fascinating.


#20

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