Tuesday 12 December 2017

Turning into mum

Turning into mum: Madonna with daughter Lourdes. Photo: Reuters
Turning into mum: Madonna with daughter Lourdes. Photo: Reuters

Be honest - if you're a mum, you'll have said: 'What did your last slave die of?' and 'It'll all end in tears' on many occasions.

You'll also have worried about your kids, stocked up on groceries, and gone to bed early quite a few times too.

It's standard fare for most mums - who may not realise that by behaving in this way, they're actually turning into their own mothers.

A new survey in the UK has found that 48pc of the nation believe they're turning into their mum, with the top five indicators being: Worrying more; stocking up on groceries; going to bed early; being more outspoken; and watching soaps and drama.

Using mum's favourite sayings is yet another sign of 'mother metamorphosis', and the top 10 most popular mum phrases in the Hallmark Cards for a Cure survey were: What did your last slave die of?; close the door, you weren't born in a barn; I can't hear myself think; it'll all end in tears; it'll all come out in the wash; who's 'she', the cat's mother?; you'll catch your death in that; don't make a face like that, if the wind changes you'll stay like that; you don't get a pudding if you don't eat your mains; and you don't know you're born.

Such phrases are most likely to come out when talking to children, with 39pc of the mums and dads surveyed admitting to using their mums' expressions with their kids, and a quarter even claiming to talk to their partners this way.

Justine Roberts, co-founder of the parents' social networking site Mumsnet, says it's all just part of accepting that our own mums usually knew what they were talking about.

"Many Mumsnetters report that they've suddenly awoken to the shocking realisation that they're turning into their mothers and trotting out all the over-used mantras of their youth," she says.

"But then again, there ARE children starving in Africa, our house is NOT a hotel and you should just take what you're given and be grateful, so we might as well acknowledge that our mothers knew a thing or two and accept the inevitable."

Certainly, the survey found that more than a third of mums and dads look up to their own mums as the most inspirational figure in their lives.

Not surprisingly, women are far more likely to go through the mother metamorphosis, with two-thirds of women feeling that they're turning into their mums, compared to just a third of men.

However, almost half of men still revert to using their mothers' phrases when needed.

Behavioural expert Judi James points out that despite the common desire to develop our own personalities with unique characteristics, most of our behaviour is learned or copied.

She says: "Much of it has been implanted at an early stage in our development, when our main influencer would have been our mother.

"You can be in awe of, you can rebel from and you can even vow never to do, say or use the traits and habits you associate with your parents, but the chances are they're ticking away like a time-bomb in your subconscious, and given the same prompting and the same set of circumstances, you'll find them emerging.

"There's very little you can do to avoid it."

She says body language is mainly learned via mimicry and mirroring, and certain dialogues you thought you'd never use will "pop out unannounced".

James explains that the use of mum's favourite phrases reveals a tendency to stick to the familiar even when we're intellectually opposed to it.

"Much of this adherence to copying our parents is down to basic survival behaviours. It's a parental animal's job to train its child all about finding food and avoiding danger. The fact you picked up a few less 'life-essential' traits along the way is just part of the evolutionary process."

More than a quarter of parents surveyed said they'd come to terms with the fact they're turning into their mum. But although 15pc were happy about the metamorphosis, 17pc insisted they'd fight the change - which was often first spotted by their partner.

However, parents turning into their mums are in good company, as the nation believes that certain celebrities are turning into their mums too.

They are: Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland; Zara Phillips, daughter of the Princess Royal; Lourdes Ciccone, daughter of Madonna; Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn; and Sylvester Stallone, son of Jackie Stallone.

Press Association

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