Celebrating Mother’s Day brings up reflections on how our moms parented us, including how our moms’ best advice continues to guide us to this day.
While mother-daughter relationships run the gamut from close to distant or absent, peaceful or fraught with conflict, and hands-off or meddling, almost every mom conveys her best advice to her daughter and hopes it sticks. I’ve collected those nuggets of great life advice that the mothers of our blog writers and owners passed on to us.
Mom’s Best Advice #1: “Don’t Get Married. You’ll Lose Your Health Insurance.”
In high school and college, my extremely serious boyfriends made my mom nervous. My high school sweetheart gave me a promise ring. (I now wonder if this term means anything to today’s generation of teenagers.) Back then, it meant that he intended to marry me someday.
We went to separate colleges across the country and eventually broke up. I then landed in an equally serious relationship in college that resulted in an actual engagement. My then-fiancé and I traveled to Europe together for study abroad our junior year. As often as she could throughout both of these relationships, my mom told me, “Don’t get married. You’ll lose your health insurance. Your father and I can only insure you while you are dependent on us. If you get married, you won’t be.” Luckily, I listened to her best advice and didn’t get married to either of those guys. At the age of 22, I needed major surgery – which my parents’ health insurance fully covered.
Without my mom’s best advice, I would probably still be paying off those medical bills.
Mom’s Best Advice #2: “It Won’t Show on Your Wedding Day.”
Any time one of my siblings or I would suffer a minor “boo-boo,” my mom patched us up and told us, “It won’t show on your wedding day.”
I now say this exact phrase to my own kids when they get hurt. I always interpreted it as my mom’s variation on, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” To a kid, something may seem like a huge deal at the moment. Even though it hurts for a little while, it turns out relatively unmemorable down the road.
Mom’s Best Advice #3: “It’s a Small World.”
To this day, I have never heard my mom gossip. I greatly admire this trait in her. As little kids, she told us, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” As we grew into the world around us, she cautioned, “It’s a small world,” meaning whatever you say about someone will get back to them and then reflect poorly on you.
Mom’s Best Advice #4: “Establish a Good Credit Score.”
My mom emphasized that I needed to establish a good credit score. As a young-ish adult, I now realize the importance of her best advice and the value of building and maintaining good credit. Without it, I would probably drive an unsafe vehicle that couldn’t pass inspection and still live with my parents because I couldn’t qualify for a loan to buy my own home.
Mom’s Best Advice #5: “Use Your Good China.”
Even for everyday meals, my mom always says, “Use your good china and nice serving platter.” I think it’s her way of saying, “You only live once.”
Mom’s Best Advice #6: “You Only Control You.”
When other people and their actions would get me down, my mom always said, “You can’t control what others do. You can only control your reaction.” Though it’s occasionally hard to follow, it’s still the best advice she ever gave me.
Mom’s Best Advice #7: “Learn to Cook.”
I discovered one of my greatest passions when my mom sent me to culinary camp at a young age. I learned to cook for our whole family, and I carried that skill with me into adulthood.
Mom’s Best Advice #7: Silence.
I really wanted to come up with some sage advice from my mom because she influences me a lot, but I can’t remember her offering unsolicited advice. (She does occasionally offer unwanted and not-needed guidance on exactly how to phrase some mundane conversation.) Unlike me, my mom parented and continues to parent me with a loose grip. She watches me succeed and is there to help when I fail. I deeply appreciate her unfaltering faith in my vision, despite my many failures and false starts.
What is the best advice your mom gave you that you follow to this day? What do you think is the best advice you give your own kids?