March 5, 2009
The “Super Mom Syndrome,” as some call it, is a phenomenon that affects millions of women around the country. Some believe it is a product of generational conditioning, some believe it’s the result of biological differences between the genders, and a few secretly cast blame on that pesky June Cleaver, who effortlessly set a precedent for the American mother that few of us will ever be able to impersonate.
So which is it? Biological or conditioned? Or is it one of those unexplained forces that draws little girls to dolls or instinctively pitches a mother’s protective arm to the passenger side of the front of a car at the onset of a sudden stop?
Annette McMillan, stay-at-home-mom of two, believes it to be a conditioned response to the way many members of our adult population’s generation were parented. “My mother did everything while we were growing up. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids. I think I’ve subconsciously buried myself into the same role as a wife and mom because that’s how I grew up,” says McMillan. “Even when my husband does take the initiative to clean the kitchen, I spend the entire time consumed in guilt and counting every missed crumb. Honestly, I’d rather just do it myself.”
Dr. Reuven Bar-On, a psychologist from Isreal, spent many years developing a test known as “The BarOn EQ-i.” This test measures the overall “Emotional Intelligence” (EQ) of men and women and examines five factors: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Adaptability, Stress Management and General Mood. “We have consistently found that women are more aware of their emotions, show more empathy and act more socially responsible than men, whereas men cope better with stress,” said Dr. Bar-On.
Wait just a minute here. So if men biologically cope better with stress, why do women often naturally assume the role of the family housekeeper, nutritionist, cook, doctor, psychologist, tutor, fashion advisor, party planner and healer of all physical and emotional plights? The answer may be as simple as the inability of some women to delegate and the men who become accustomed to it. And if this is true, how much control do we, as women, have over our natural hunger for perfection as a wives and a mothers?
John Gray, Ph.D., author of best-selling book, Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, advises a reader in a recent newspaper column, “Sometimes, what you get depends how you ask for it. Try making your requests in small increments. For example: ‘I know you work long, hard hours and that you’re very tired when you get home. I’d appreciate it if you’d just take a moment to put your shoes in the closet and your work clothes in the laundry basket.’ When you make a small request without justifying why you are doing so instead of giving a long list of reasons and concerns; men are far more likely to accommodate your request.’” “Often a woman will feel guilty that she ‘cannot do it all.’ The simple truth is that you can’t work around the clock. None of us can or should,” he said.Amen to that.