New & Improved 20 Questions

29 Sep ed5d7b34695af4947c17d8a8f5b726ff

646519fd86182814bdd38313fe33cb3fOne of the very first things I did when I started writing Toxic Mom Toolkit was to design a brief questionnaire to help me collect real stories of growing up with a super toxic mother. Many of the mini-memoir chapters in my book started with an email from someone brave enough to take the survey and then send it back to me.

Right now I am collecting surveys from men for a book crafted specifically for male survivors of toxic parenting and I still need more stories. But I was also recently reminded of how therapeutic it can be for people to fill these out — so I decided to mesh the original and the men’s survey and fine-tune the original 20 Questions and re-issue it. It is important to me to keep learning about our community and these questionnaires capture so many things that would never be included in a quick conversation, email or Facebook post.

If you would like to fill one out, I would love to read it.  They are for my eyes only and are confidential. If I decide I’d like to use yours to create a chapter for my new book for guys, I will ask your permission. As a writer, I need to know who you are really, but you can remain anonymous and we can change names, locations, etc. to protect the guilty parties.

So here is the 2016 edition of 20 Questions Every Adult Child of a Toxic Mom Should Ask Themselves:

20 Questions for Adult Children of Toxic Mothers

Your name:

Your age:

Contacts: Email & Phone:

Your location/Country & City:

Please email your completed survey to newsyrayne@gmail.com

ed5d7b34695af4947c17d8a8f5b726ff

Your Story Matters!

  1. Tell us about you. What year where you born and where does your birth fit in among siblings? Please provide a basic description of your parents/family. Did your family grow through adoption or foster placement?
  2. Tell me the story of how your parents met.
  3. Tell me about each of your parent’s teen years and what their parents did for a living. Include any unusual relationships within the family that are pertinent to your family life today.
  4. Describe the arc of your academic and professional life to present. What is your current occupation? If you volunteer in your community, how often? Doing what?
  5. Describe the relationship with your mother in three segments: as a child, a teen and young adult.
  6. How old were you when you first realized your mother was different than other mothers?
  7. What is your biggest criticism of your mother?
  8. What would she criticize about you?
  9. Describe any significant periods of estrangement. How easy (or difficult) was it to limit (or cut off) contact?
  10. How has your relationship with your mother affected your relationships with others?
  11. How many friends can you really talk to about your mother?
  12. Describe your current family status. Do you have children? If not, why not?
  13. Tell me about your occupation, why you chose it. Tell me about your hobbies.
  14. How many siblings do you have? Are you close or estranged? Why?
  15. Describe your current relationship with your mother. Given your current levels of contact how are you viewed within your family?
  16. Have you ever talked to a therapist about your mother? Was it helpful?
  17. Moving forward, do you anticipate any changes in your view of your mother?
  18. Do you experience personal guilt, social guilt or remorse about decisions you’ve made regarding your mother?
  19. As your mother ages, do you see yourself having more or less contact? Why?
  20. Tell me what your ACES score is/just the number. Please make a note of your ACES score at the top of the first page. Here is a link to the test:   http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean

Thank you!

 

 

Toxic Mom Toolkit Crowns “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst

24 Sep

205876Yes, Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times best-selling author and President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and she’s funny, but I like her and her new book, “Uninvited” anyway. Her latest book, written from her sticky kitchen table in North Carolina, focuses on that particularly odd – hard to put your finger on – feeling of being less than, left out and lonely.

Not that she doesn’t have some fun with it.

Yes, she wants to be a bigger person about those feelings but sometimes she will admit her jealousy of the other author chosen over her for conferences. That the other author has a thigh gap on her book jacket cover and Lysa’s own shots are always of her sideways… well… maybe that’s just a coincidence. Her most successful way out of the crummy feeling pit she often works up a sweat digging, is through careful study of the Bible. Won’t work for every reader – I confess to flapping past earnest pages of verse – but there were moments when her broken heart fit perfectly into a line from Psalms and my eyes teared up with recognition.

Her strongest chapters focus on recognizing, and therefore, not letting one past rejection bleed into the rest of your life. Sounds easy, but I hungrily read that material several times.

This is a very personal book. Many authors attempt to “talk” to the reader, but TerKeurst speaks to you WHILE holding your hand AND straightening your hair out of your eyes AND finishes up with a too-long hug. By the end of the book it all feels very natural. I’m pretty sure that if I met her at a conference — me standing alone in one corner — and her standing alone in the other – I might actually end up going over and inviting her to an empty table where we could both make jokes about who is the dorkiest loner.

I’m happy to award this book a Toxic Mom Toolkit crown. I hope the people who would be helped by this book, find this book. You can find it on Amazon, ChristianBooks.com in print, Kindle and audio editions.

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Are You a ‘Bad Mom’ or a Toxic Mom?

1 Aug

7de9027451431f2f45269a6605b75693   This week it’s all about the new movie Bad Moms, in which suburban mothers gleefully go off the rails – giving their kids sugar, throwing wild parties and guzzling rot-gut booze.

My Mister reports that at restaurants and bars near the theater in our little town, groups of dressed-up girlfriends are gathering to have Bad Moms movie parties. They may even be smuggling in flasks to spike their root beers when the lights go down.

As the author of Toxic Mom Toolkit, a book that helps adult children of super toxic mothers rise above their own horrible childhoods, it got me thinking: Most women do strive to be good mothers. They do cook healthy meals, pack non-sugary snacks, and shop for ethical toys and clothes for their children. And yet, when a teen slams the bedroom door or another mother looks askance at your contribution to the bake sale, they wonder: What if I’m not a good mom?

So many people ask me if their mothers were toxic. My answer? If you say she is, I believe you. And later, if they have their own children, they’ll ask how not to repeat the pathological patterns from their own childhoods. My answer? If you’re worried about that, you’re not a toxic mother.

So what is a “toxic” mom? By toxic, I mean a mother, who for a variety of reasons (mental illness, immaturity, strange family patterns, or even jealousy) make it a life mission to be unkind to children in her care. Many times toxic mothers appear to be wonderful mothers to others, but behind closed doors they can terrorize siblings or single out one child for a lifetime of bullying.

With Bad Moms we’re introduced to the idea of great moms rejecting the obsessive restrictions that come with modern motherhood. Does that make them bad moms? Actually, I view it as super human to thumb your nose at the constant one-upping and ever growing rules of mothering. In Bad Moms it’s not only good to delete the PTA emails, it’s also fun to dance, drive a bitchin’ vintage car and soar with Whip-Its without a trip to the dentist.

Are bad moms toxic? As an expert on toxic mothering I say absolutely not. In fact, these movie bad moms will probably help a lot of wonderful mothers to focus on what really matters: to stop worrying about what others will make of your mothering and just love your kids.

 

 

 

 

Toxic Mom Toolkit on Mother’s Day Aftermath

11 May

I plan for Mother’s Day about six weeks out, give or take, and this year was no different.

And then I saw an email from a big newspaper columnist, Aisha Sultan at the St. Louis Dispatch — a REAL newspaper, as my late stepmother Robbie would say.

So I prepared for an interview, not expecting too much and not reading too much into our very nice conversation. (I try not to get ramped up, or wonder if someone thinks I’m crazy, or angry, or…you know.)

And then it seemed that the conversation was so interesting to Sultan that her column became focused solely on Toxic Mom Toolkit, the book, the Facebook community, and the blog and that was a very, very good thing. (And scary.)

At the same time, Mother’s Day led a lot of newbies to our sites and I started receiving Questionnaires from Guys, from far-flung places and full of juicy stuff, and that was a really good thing.

So I started thanking Guy Friends of Ours and printing their stories out on paper and highlighting lines while I watched Game of Thrones. With a yellow highlighter and a six color pen I drew comparisons and found common threads and that got me very excited about the book I’m doing for men about surviving and thriving after growing up with a toxic mom.

All along I was putting up pre-Mother’s Day warnings on Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook to get enough sleep and said eat your vegetables like I always do. I know the drill. I’ve helped our community brace for Mother’s day since 2013 when Toxic Mom Toolkit hit Amazon a few days before Christmas.

Did I take my own advice on sleep and vegetables? Not much.

Did I have other big things going on in my family at the very same time? Oh yeah.

But isn’t that the way life always is? Everything at once. And then someone from a big metropolitan city in Canada, messaged me, saying, hey, did you see this American newspaper column all about you? Oh, you mean the one I thought was running on Mother’s Day, but was actually a Thursday column?

So that was exciting – to think – I have this big surprise for Mother’s Day Sunday. Oh wait. No, Thursday, three days early. It’s like a plot change and it’s all good and happy and wonderful for me – not to mention possibly reaching people who really need Toxic Mom Toolkit – so I just got up early and stayed up late and responded to every single comment and watched my Facebook data swell and crest at about triple the normal activity.

And then the personal emails started. Like this one from a blogger I featured:

“Thank you so much for what you do at Toxic Mom Toolkit. It’s so nice not to be alone. Especially as Mother’s Day is approaching! So much of what you say speaks to my situation.”

Mother’s Day came and we all survived by posting supportive messages and images and sticking together. I only had to ban one toxic mom all day.

And just as I was about to turn off the laptop late Sunday night, this came in from a Friend of Ours in London, sent to me privately, to be posted on Facebook:

I finally walked into a police station yesterday and reported historical physical and emotional child abuse at the hands of my TM (toxic mom) yesterday. The investigation is going to be quite long but I’m interested to know if anyone here has ever done the same?”

Which reminded me that this isn’t a hobby blog for me. It’s not about pushing book sales (although, please do buy one or ask your branch Librarian to order it for you.) This is about real people’s real lives and family relationships and it’s important.

As I said, I plan for Mother’s Day about six weeks out, give or take, and this year was no different.

Until just this evening, while checking my email when I saw a note from a very cute guy I dated for five minutes decades ago. (I wish it had been longer.) He’s known me from 35 to 60 and my stomach still flutters when I see his name.

His mother had just died. Did he ever tell me she was really toxic, just terrible? Could I send him the Guys Questionnaire?

And then I thought I better mail him a book. In a plain brown wrapper. First thing, tomorrow. Right after the I finish the bi-monthly bracelet mailing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toxic Mom Toolkit Pen Pal: Dear UncleAuntCousinJudy MomsBestFriendSinceThirdGrade:

18 Apr

0df2a3e3c3e819f3b804a305cf75c4a2DearUncle,Aunt,CousinJudy,Moms’

BestFriendSinceThirdGrade:

 

Thank you for your recent letter inviting me to reconnect with Mother.

 

I appreciate that you are writing out of concern for reuniting the family and spurred by concerns about time running out as mother ages.

 

I read your letter carefully. It reminded me that you have a very kind heart and I appreciate that about you.

 

But here’s the thing. I’m a grown up now and I have choices that I didn’t have when I was a child. Since you knew me as a child, I’ve educated myself, created a peaceful and loving family home, and I’m active in my community. I’ve also developed the perspective to understand my relationship with my mother. That you adore her and worry for her is sweet and kind. That you would extend yourself on her behalf shows what a good friend you are – and that’s a good thing. Mother needs her friends.

 

But I’m her adult child who suffered many forms of abuse while in her care. She has never explained or apologized for the trauma she inflicted upon me, despite the sun rising each morning. Although you’ve known her since before I was born, you are not informed on how she treated me in private.

 

I have built a life that I am proud of and happy with. It must seem sad that it does not include my mother. I can only assume that her past behavior is the best predictor of her future behavior towards my family and myself. My first priority is to protect myself (and my family) from her.

 

I have chosen peace over chaos, love over hate, and contentment over deep emotional pain.

 

As I would wish for anyone, I do hope she finds her peace one day. I cannot deliver that to her and I don’t choose to be near her. I ask that if you choose to stay in contact with me that you not “plead her case” or give me updates on her health or wellbeing.

 

Best,

 

Toxic Mom Toolkit is Looking For a Few Brave Men

13 Feb recite-16792--1806477120-fcgf7w

Big News! We have a new questionnaire for the guys!

Are you ready to be part of a ground-breaking anthology focusing on men and their toxic moms? Do you know a guy who has struggled with a toxic mom? Here’s the starting point. Here’s the official questionnaire!

 

TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT: THE GUY’S QUESTIONNAIRE

Instructions: Please copy the entire questionnaire and type your answers underneath each question. When you’ve completed the questionnaire, please copy and email to newsyrayne@gmail.com with a note on how to contact you, if I have follow-up questions. These questionnaires are for my eyes only. They will not be reproduced in any way or posted anywhere. If your story is included in the Anthology, we will decide together how to describe you. In Toxic Mom Toolkit, we used initials and birth year. As editor, I need to know that you are a real person and I need a way to contact you. Thank you!

 

  • Tell me about you. What year where you born and where does your birth fit in among siblings? Please provide a basic description of your parents/family. What did your parents do for a living? What activities were important to them? Did your family grow through adoption or foster placement? *Where do you live now?

 

 

  • Describe the arc of your academic and professional life to present. What is your current occupation? If you volunteer in your community, how often? Doing what?

 

 

  • Describe the relationship with your mother in three segments: as a child, a teen and young adult.

 

 

  • How old were you when you first realized your mother was different than other mothers?

 

 

  • What is your biggest criticism of your mother?

 

 

  • What would she criticize about you?

 

 

  • Describe any significant periods of estrangement. How easy (or difficult) was it to limit (or cut off) contact?

 

 

  • How has your relationship with your mother affected your relationships with others?

 

 

  • Describe your relationship with your father. Describe your mother’s relationship with your father.

 

 

 

  • Is your mother demanding of your time? How does that make you feel?

 

 

  • Do you feel disloyal if you speak negatively about your mother?

 

 

  • Does your mother treat you as if you are expected to assume your father’s role at some point?

 

 

  • How many friends can you really talk to about your mother?

 

 

  • Describe your current family status. Do you have children? If not, why not?

 

 

  • Have you served in the military? If so, please describe your roles and postings.

 

 

  • If you have children does your mother have access to your children? Are you comfortable with that or would you like to limit contact between your mother and children? Why?

 

 

  • Describe your current relationship with your mother. Given your current levels of contact how are you viewed within your family?

 

 

  • Have you ever talked to a therapist about your mother? Was it helpful?

 

 

  • Moving forward, do you anticipate any changes in your view of your mother?

 

 

  • Do you experience personal guilt, social guilt or remorse about decisions you’ve made regarding your mother?

 

 

  • Have you felt disloyal regarding your mother?

 

 

  • As your mother ages, do you see yourself having more or less contact? Why?

 

Toxic Mom Toolkit – Call for Authors!

8 Jan

Just a quick post to let our Guy Friends that I have decided to start collecting stories of how they rose above growing up with a super toxic mom. I will have more information in the following days, (there will be a questionnaire to get you started…) but I wanted our community to know first before I put out a blast to the world. This will be an anthology that I edit and publish as a companion to my book, Toxic Mom Toolkit.

 

Did you grow up with a super toxic mother? Did you survive your childhood? Did you face challenges as you went out in the world? Did you eventually build a happy and peaceful life? A life of which you are proud? Then I need YOUR story.

 

We can publish with your name, with a pen name, with an initial, or whatever works for you. The main thing is to find inspirational stories that will help others heal. Can I deal you in?

#blogging101#rayne-wolfe#sons-and-toxic-moms#toxic-mom-toolkit-on-facebook#toxic-mom-toolkit-the-guys-anthology#toxic-mothers#writing-opportunities