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Piece of Mind: This advice too shall pass

May 04, 2011|By Carol Cormaci

Seated around a couple of tables for lunch one day a few months ago, members of my tightly-knit women’s networking group were considering a question that had just been posed. I’m paraphrasing here, because I can’t remember the question exactly as it was worded, but it centered on what piece of advice each of us had been given by our parents that we consider valuable today.

While the other networkers seemed to have a little glow to them as they recalled the wisdom of their parents, I was thinking that most of the advice I received in my youth — usually in the form of an old saying — irritated me.

Nonetheless I nodded in agreement with the others in our group that the proverb, “This too shall pass,” often uttered by a female member of the family to sooth a frazzled young adult, has turned out to be a truism, at least most cases. But at the same time I wondered if the others shared my recollections of feeling dismissed whenever my mother or grandmother trotted that one out to stop the rant of the day. When I wanted a problem to disappear immediately, it didn’t placate me to hear I had to summon a little patience and all would eventually be right in my world.

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When it came to be my turn during the luncheon to utter a parental admonition that had stuck with me, I shared this one, used by my mother: “’Can’t’ never did anything.”

Were you told that when you were a kid? In our household it was said all too often. I guess Mom had heard it frequently enough in her childhood that she felt obligated to pass it on to her brood. Today I’ll acknowledge it’s a good idea to encourage your offspring to at least try to accomplish a given task instead of lying in a heap on the floor, wailing that it can’t be done. But back in the day, it seemed like my mother was just being obnoxious when she admonished any of us with those words.

Poor Mom. She’s no longer with us to defend her parenting practices. A quarter of a century after taking on the job myself, I see that she was wise in many ways — if a little cranky when she was harried. There were many things I learned from her that were invaluable, not the least of which is this: If I want someone to follow a given course of action, I need to somehow get him to think it’s his brilliant idea.

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