GIVE: Open by the Spirit — Examine Your Legacy of Motherhood

GIVE! … By the Spirit™ with Dr. Pennie Murray

Examine Your Legacy of Motherhood

© 2010 Pennie Murray

May 4, 2010

Kelly Clarkson sings a song that focuses on how, as parents, we can create a generational cycle of missteps and unhealthy choices. Every time I hear the song “Because of You” I am reminded of the inhibitions and fears I acquired from my mother and grandmother. Yet, as a mother it also reminds me of how hard I have fought to keep them at bay and not pass them on to my children—and I don’t take this responsibility lightly. The lyrics that speak loudest to me say, “Because of you I will never stray too far from the sidewalk. Because of you I learned to play on the safe side, so I don’t get hurt. Because of you I find it hard to trust; not only me, but everyone around me. Because of you I am afraid…”

This weekend is Mother’s Day, and researchers have established that, good or bad, much of who we are as individuals has been shaped by the influence of our mothers. In an interview with MTV News, Ms. Clarkson acknowledged that the song is about the unhealthy cycle created and passed on within families. In her words, “You act how your parents acted towards you, and then your kids act how you act towards them, and it’s all about breaking that cycle if it was a bad one.”

I grew up in an era that encouraged “telling a pretty lie, instead of the ugly truth” in order to protect one’s public image. But the generational devastation of that philosophy continues to leave the lives of many in disrepair and ruin. I just attended an event regarding domestic abuse ( and the speaker noted that “abusers learn to abuse” and that is true. Much of what we do or don’t do as adults is learned behavior. Whether we acquire our behavioral styles directly or indirectly—they are nonetheless learned; and since most behaviors are learned, they can be unlearned.

Mother’s Day is a day of honoring the efforts, contributions and influences mothers have on society as a whole, and I certainly have no problem with that. This Mother’s Day I implore you to make this the year you seriously commit to examining your legacy of motherhood. What unhealthy generational cycle are you passing on to your children—your grandchildren (directly – how you treat them, or indirectly – how they see you being treated)?

This year, in addition to the perfume, jewelry, flowers, etc., you may receive, ask your children to help you leave a healthier legacy that will affect generations to come. Ask them to help you love and honor yourself more. Be honest about the ugly truth and list one or two things you want to do to honor or respect yourself more, then ask your children to help you stay the course. Just one act of true, unadulterated self-love can make all the difference in your life and the lives of your children and their children.

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One Response

  1. Pennie,

    Very strong, powerful sentiment and charge to mothers and also to children about building bridges of support and breaking cycles of pain.

    Thank you for the reminder!

    Blessings, Tonya

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