Have you ever thought about telling a mom something and then stop because, well, you didn’t want to say the wrong thing? Maybe it was your mom, a sister, or a friend. Either way, your concern over sounding condescending or making her feel worse kept those letters and words inside of you.
The truth is that we live in a world where we stop ourselves from sharing the words and support that those around us desperately need to hear. Positive words have a profound impact on human wellbeing. When we read a positive written word about ourselves, our body temperature actually changes to mimic that of a hug.
Still, as a team of many moms, we wondered if it was as simple as this. Do all moms need to hear the same things? Or does it change? And if so, how?
Floracracy set out to discover how to write a letter to a mother. Some of it was to be expected, and some of it was not. Turns out, age played a distinct role in the kind of support mothers sought, the type of stories they valued, and how they most defined success as a mother.
For the full infographic of how to write a letter to a mother, click here. And if you want to know the surprising benefits of writing a letter to the mother inside you (and how to do it), check out this post.
Here, we’ll explore 4 key discoveries that will help you write better messages to the moms you love.
Finding 1: Mom’s Think They Will Most Miss Their Kids’ Presence, but That’s Not It
In our study, we asked mothers what they thought they were going to miss. Mothers aged 18 – 44 reported very high rates of fearing their children no longer being present. However, mothers 45 and over no longer shared this fear. What they believed they would miss the most was actually their children telling them stories. This was backed up in our second survey which found that older mothers longed to hear about their children’s families in letters.
What this means is that, when communicating with younger mothers, tell them stories or encourage them to take time to ask questions and absorb the stories their children are telling them. As their children age, they will have an army of memories and stories to help with the transition from child to teen to adult.
And if you’re writing to an older mother, be sure to fill your letter with stories about yourself.
Finding 2: How a Mother Defines Success Depends on Age and How you Ask
We were curious to know how mothers define a sense of success, and the answer was that it depends. When asked what matters most to them, moms aged 18 – 24 and 35 – 44 reported that their children feeling loved was most important. Happiness ranked a close second for the youngest group of mothers (it no longer was ranked high for moms 35 – 44). In contrast, mothers 25 – 34 and again mothers over 45 years of age value their children having good values far higher than happiness or feeling loved.
Yet, when asked to write descriptions of what defines success, these patterns are far less present. While moms 25 – 34 still define their success around their children’s values, all other ages report their children’s happiness and having a happy life as their definition of success. Most likely, this is how they interpret their children as feeling loved.
This means that for mothers 18 – 24 and 35 – 44, stories that demonstrate their children’s happiness and sense of being loved will fill them with a feeling of success. For mother’s over 45, and especially mothers between 25 and 34, it’s important to include messages of their children’s values and demonstrations of doing good things in the world.
Finding 3: How Moms Need Support Also Changes
When asked, all moms ranked the idea of receiving gifts very low. Their needs were different and again, it varied on their age. For mothers who were younger than 44, their need was specific and consistent: they most valued help around the house. If you want to show these moms support, offer to do something concrete and specific.
For moms over 44, the need changed. They no longer valued highly acts of service around the house. For them, it is a desire to have family give them words of encouragement.
As you’re thinking about what to “gift” a mother, remember your most valuable gift is you whether through acts of service or words of encouragement.
Finding 4: The Stories Moms Value Change Depending on Their Age
The stories mothers value changed depending on their age. Almost all mothers valued most memories of children’s firsts, except mothers 35 – 44 who uniquely valued memories of social experiences and lessons. Also, moms between 25 and 44 valued memories around holidays and birthdays at higher rates than younger and older mothers. And while all mothers most want to talk about and share valued memories, how she views them (and wants to hear about them in letters) changed with age again. For younger mothers, she simply valued the memories. Mothers 25 – 34 wanted to hear stories and messages that conveyed gratitude. Mothers 35 – 44 wanted to hear stories and messages that conveyed love. And mothers over 45 wanted to hear messages of love, along with new stories about current happenings in their children’s lives.
What this means is that all mothers receive a sense of value by the retelling to her of treasured memories, and creating spaces to talk about them together. These stories are made more powerful when we convey within them messages that reflect what moms need to hear.