Women empowerment for Mom

My Mom suffers from empowerment issues, and I’d like to help her. Any advice for seminars, books, books on tape to help, etc? Key issues:

  1. Key issue here is empowerment. Making her independent, conquering her fears (specifically fear of driving, fear of giving up hoarding, and to a lesser extent fear of swimming), and making her passionate/effective in accomplishing life goals.

  2. Second key issue here is being positive and not androgynist or in a situation of conflict. I want her to be be empowered and independent without the need to “win” or overpower the men or other people in her life. Indeed, it would be ideal if in the process of being empowered, she gained the ability to empower the men / other people in her life.

It’s nice that you’d like to help her. I’d like like some confirmation that she’d like your help before I make any recommendations.

Find a life-make-over show and enlist her? Dr Phil, Style by Jury, Hoarders?

Reading books on a topic isn’t going to make her empowered. Hanging out with people who have a good attitude about subjects in question might.

I’m not sure what you mean by that. She hasn’t explicitly asked me to help her be more empowered, but she has of course talked about her feelings regarding her limitations. I’m not looking to actively intervene in her life against her will, just kind of point her in the right direction.

I don’t know how to put this suggestion into practical use.

There are adult driving schools that specialize in helping nervous and fearful adult drivers. Some Googling should get you started.

Squalor Survivors is supposed to be a good place to start with this one.

Gavin de Becker’s Gift of Fear is a level-headed, no nonsense take on fear, danger, self-dependence, and living in a scary world. I recommend it for everyone.

How old is your mom?

Is she in therapy at all?

Does she have panic attack issues? Depression?

Get her a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

jackdavinci, has she ever changed the oil in her own car (I guess not, if she doesn’t drive. Neither do I.); or changed a tube on her bicycle? Has she ever fixed a toilet when the chain becomes detached and it won’t flush anymore? Maybe opened up something that was broken, and figured out how to make it work?

As an old-school punk girl, I know I found it tremendously empowering to fix things, for myself. The first thing I ever took apart was my alarm clock when I was an adolescent; it was just gummed up, and once I cleaned it & put it back together, it worked just fine. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 39; but it wasn’t truly cool until someone showed me how to change a tube. And I never learned to drive a car, but by God, I can push one! (OK. A VW.)

Once you have direct experience dealing with an event somewhere on the inconvenience/debilitation spectrum, you know that in one small way, you don’t absolutely need anyone, and that makes it both easier to do or at least try the next thing, and easier to be around people because you want to and not because you have to depend on them.

There are probably things of this nature that she can do, whatever her age, experience or temprament. Competence spreads easily from one area of your life to another, because you have squished some of that goofy fear.

As for the androgynous part, well, I wear army boots, but I also own aprons, thigh-high stockings, and I make good piecrust. I don’t think anyone’s going to mistake me for a man. :cool:

Yep, that’s actually what I meant. If someone doesn’t want to change, you can’t force them to, so I wanted to be sure that your mum is actually unhappy with her lot and asking for help to change, rather that you deciding she would be happier if she changed.

I’m not sure whether it’s a language/cultural difference, but I don’t quite understand what your points mean.

Androgyny means being neither clearly feminine nor masculine. Can you elaborate on what you mean by this? And I think you missed a word out - androgynist or what in a situation of conflict?

I think it’s quite telling that you have separated out men from ‘other people’, but I’m not sure exactly what you’re saying again! Is this a comment on how she conducts romantic relationships?

I’m wondering what your definition of empowerment is, as it can mean different things to different people.

Do you feel at the moment that she controls other people by disempowering them? That would indicate an agressive, overbearing, potentially bullying approach, but I suspect that’s not what you mean, because you talk about her having a lot of fears.

The OP wanted his mom to be empowered, not <insert joke here>!


I don’t see why there would be a missing word. For many people, “getting more power” involves “taking power from others”, which requires/implies a situation of conflict. The OP wants to help his mom be more self-assured, but it starts by making her see that “power” is not a zero-sum game: her being more empowered doesn’t mean taking power from others, doesn’t mean becoming bossy, doesn’t mean “getting the upper hand” with her husband…

People who are truly empowered and self-assured do give others more power. They delegate, they accept that other people do things in a different way and that different ways are acceptable so long as the results match what was requested. But I think anybody who’s at least 18 will have had encounters with authority figures who were convinced that they gained power by refusing it to others. The OP’s Mom doesn’t want to be one of these, and he doesn’t want to make her into one of them either. He wants her to be one of the first.

Maybe offer up some social clubs she could join, or even join them with her? Being better connected socially generally tends to help one with feeling more secure in the world, which leads to greater assertiveness…

Just a speculation, that.

Check out the Red Hat Society. Great club for older gals.