THE NERVOUS JITTERY MOTHER


 
THE NERVOUS JITTERY MOTHER

By Garry Cleveland Myers, Ph.D.

There would be fewer nervous, jittery children if their mothers were completely self-controlled, poised and serene. The best way for a mother to deal with a nervous child is to deal with herself. Yet this is not always easy, since the jittery child tends to make the mother more
jittery ; since, moreover, the mother may have ill health, she may be over weary nearly all the time and overcritical of her unsuccessful efforts to be more serene and to help the child become more calm. Perhaps nothing else stands so much in the way of the nervous mother's efforts to get herself in hand as her constant criticism of herself and others. At the opposite extreme, are a few nervous mothers who constantly dwell on pitying themselves. Of the two ills, it is probably worse to pity yourself than to condemn yourself and dwell constantly in remorse. Don't therefore, condemn yourself if you can't be nearly so calm as you suppose you should be.
First of all, have your doctor give you and your nervous child a complete check-over; and follow his advice.
Sit down and take stock of your job as mother and housewife. Consider ways in which you can reduce your hours of physical work and responsibilities. The chances are you need some domestic help. See where the family budget can be trimmed, if necessary, in order to afford this. In many cases domestic help or sending out the laundry and such is easily within the family means but the mother is too eager to be frugal or the father may be so. In the latter case, calm, skillful persuasion by the mother might win ; or the doctor, or some other person the father will listen to, might prevail on him.
This failing, the father might be won to share in some of the household burdens and assume more responsibility while home in caring for the children. If you have children over six, train them to help about the home, assigning them regular, definite jobs. By all means, you need to get away from the house and the children now and then, for short or longer periods. You need fun and recreation. Excellent if you can find a way to leave the children in safe care and go out for pleasure with your husband one or several evenings a week. Otherwise, he might be willing to keep them now and then for you to get away a few hours at a stretch.
Mothers who work away from home have excessive strain on their energy and nerves. Tired from the day's work, they come home to do what amounts to another day's work there. While some must be employed from necessity, many others either should quit their work or hire some domestic help.
Too many mothers, especially nervous mothers, are over-concerned with tidiness of the house and the usual standards of good housekeeping. Perhaps there can be far simpler meals, with fewer dainties and desserts requiring long time in preparation. Some rooms won't have to be tidied so often as at present, perhaps; nor will the dishes have to be washed after every meal, if the nervous strain from doing so is excessive. Better that an unexpected guest should find your house topsy-turvy than your nerves and your child's nerves unstrung. Better to be a serene hostess and calm parent than a good housekeeper with the jitters.
The wise mother of the child takes an afternoon nap when he does and her nap might do more to make him calm and good-natured for the rest of the day than his.
Every mother,especially the nervous mother, needs to have interests outside her house and family, but interests which she will enjoy without worry and anxiety and excessive energy and hours. (Some mothers are jittery and unfit to live with because they attempt to engage in too many civic activities) She also needs to do some reading just for fun. Now and then she needs to see a drama she will enjoy, not omitting some which will make her laugh. She needs to see some games, perhaps, but surely participate in some games or sports or other recreational activities. If only we knew a way to make all husbands feel that she needs such and want to do something about it, many mothers would be blessed.
If you are religious, you will find calming values from religion. If you are not religious, it still might be worth your considering. Prayer and meditation are by nature quieting. Many a person suffering from a "nervous breakdown" has been hindered with constant thoughts about herself. It is significant that during the war with all its destructive bombings there was reported a decrease of cases of so-called nervous breakdowns in London.
Fewer mothers would be nervous if their husbands understood them better and were more considerate of them as persons. But the mother hardly can change her husband's ways and attitudes toward her except as she does so indirectly and adroitly, bringing out the traits and acts in him she likes and celebrating his successes. She certainly doesn't make him a more acceptable husband by reminding him of his shortcomings. Then some nervous mothers allow themselves to be so annoyed by little faults in their husbands, children or anybody else, that they fail to see and appreciate the better and more essential traits in them. Anyway, most mothers would be so much happier and calmer if they would get it out of their heads they can make their husbands change their ways and decide instead that, so long as he lives, he will continue to be as he is, being thankful if he grows not worse.
Many mothers are nervous because they let small, unessential matters in their children overwhelm them and blind them to the big things. Some wear themselves out doing too much for their children and robbing them of self-reliance. Many mothers have grown jittery because they have not learned how to control their children.


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