Words Can Heal


Florence Henderson’s Mother’s Day Tips

Florence Henderson, America's favorite TV mom Carol Brady, tells how to enrich your relationship with your mother through words.

1. Use words. Often we take for granted that Mom knows how we feel. Even if she does, she still likes to hear words such as, “I love you” and “Thank You.”

2. Use specific words. Better than, “I love you” is “I love you for the time when I was twelve-years-old and, even though you were exhausted, you drove me and my friends all the way into the city to see Star Wars.”

3. Use written words. It’s easier to speak than to take the trouble to write, but spoken words cannot be kept in a drawer, folded inside a handkerchief, for decades. [And, at the risk of dating myself, I might add that your handwriting is more precious to your mother than an e-mail.]

4. Use words that express gratitude. There are not enough words in the dictionary to cover all Mom has done for you, starting with changing your diapers and nursing you when you were sick. Just because you don’t remember, doesn’t mean she doesn’t.

5. Forgive your mother—in your heart and out loud. No one’s perfect, and your mother surely made mistakes, maybe even big ones. Forgive her while you have the chance. The day will come when you don’t.

Mother’s Day is a perfect opportunity to use words to heal. Rare is the adult who doesn’t have some sore spots in his or her relationship with Mom: disappointments, disagreements, hurt feelings, miscommunications or too little communication, etc. While getting to the root of the problem may take more time, energy, and psychologists’ fees than you care to spend, sometimes a relationship can be healed today, without probing into root causes, by using loving, grateful words.

The WCH subscriber whose letter follows had an enormous rift with her mother. Without either of them changing their position vis-a-vis lifestyle, politics, or values, they managed to span the rift with a bridge of healing words.

The Little, Loving Words That Healed Our Relationship

About 12 years ago, my relationship with my mother was strained. My life choices were not what she wanted for me. I had moved far away from her, not only in terms of place, but also in terms of lifestyle, values, and politics. My mother perceived my new views as a rejection of her and her lifestyle. When I married someone she never would have chosen for me, she felt that the distance between us had become permanent.

Things came to a crisis when my mother called at a time when it was inappropriate for us to speak with her. It had to do with our life choices and we intended no criticism of her. My husband tried very delicately, in a few words, to explain that at that time we could not speak with her on the phone, but he could not prolong the conversation, and my mother took great offense. In a strongly-worded letter, she explained how she felt we were judging her and her lifestyle. She was very hurt.

I was extremely distressed and saddened by the incident, especially because all three of the players had tried to act with their understanding of respect for the other person. A good friend suggested that I try to write to my mother. (This was many years before e-mail became accessible in private homes.) He said that I should write to her once a week, and "share my life" with her. Tell her all the little details. And at some point in the letter I should give her my gratitude for something. It could be something small, like a gift. It could be something large, like a life lesson. As long as I would say "thank you" to my mother for something in every letter, and write once a week. As he put it, parents NEVER get enough gratitude.

Well, I did that. For almost a year, I wrote almost every week. I cannot tell you what a change it wrought! The words in my letters healed our relationship in a big way.

My mother today is much more comfortable with my choices, even if she still disagrees with me. She and I speak on the phone every week (much cheaper these days!). We share much, we appreciate each other, and we are able to communicate without defensiveness and without hurt. We never worked out the big issues. We didn’t have to. The little, loving words healed our relationship.

This Mother’s Day, why not slip into your Mother’s Day card a hand-written letter, filled with loving, grateful words?

Source: Brought to you by www.verticalresponse.com Visit www.WordsCanHeal.org for more ideas on how to heal with words. And spread the word! Send this message out today -- together we can make a difference!

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