“The Mother Factor: Acceptance Works Both Ways” with Rick Miller, Gay Sons and Mothers

It was wonderful to meeting some of my fellow “Gay Sons and Mothers” board members in person!

NOTE: link to view this referenced TEDx talk is at the bottom of this blog.

I am honored and pleased to now be serving on the board of a relatively new nonprofit, “Gay Sons and Mothers,” founded by Rick Miller, a psychotherapist, author and public speaker. Gay Sons and Mothers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that chronicles the complex emotional bond that exists between gay sons and their mothers. The project was begun by founder Rick Miller in 2016 and Gay Sons and Mothers was formally organized in December of 2018.

Through interviews and the use of multimedia, Gay Sons and Mothers documents personal stories about the defining qualities of this unique relationship. We highlight how this special connection has the power to increase the overall acceptance of gay sons and their families, communities, and peers. Do read my initial blog introducing this organization.

In June, 2022, Rick invited all the board members to attend TEDx Provincetown, where he was one of eight inspirational speakers on a wide range of fascinating topics. In addition to hearing Rick, it was great to meet several of my fellow Gay Sons and Mothers board members in person.

Rick Miller giving his talk at TEDx Provincetown

Rick’s talk was titled, “The Mother Factor: Acceptance Works Both Ways.” What is so fascinating is that Rick is perhaps the first person to do extensive research on how a mother’s role is so critical to every person’s life, even as adults.

Here are some key points from Rick’s talk:

A mother is the person who has the greatest impact on her gay son’s psychological well-being. The main trait in healthy gay men is that they had mothers who just accepted him and let him be who he wanted to be. If that meant playing hopscotch or loving to wear glitter, she didn’t stop him.

Up until the mid to late ’70s, the medical and mental-health communities blamed mothers for “making their sons gay.” Imagine how a mother felt receiving these messages – from her husband, doctor, or clergy back then.

You’d think that mothers wouldn’t accept their sons for being different, yet there were many accepting mothers who simply ignored what they were being told – and privately followed their own intuition.

When a mother is supportive of her gay child, magic happens. Their bond is frequently private, unspoken, and even unrecognized, while they both experience a sense of togetherness.

Rick closed his talk with some important points on how all of us should think of and treat our mothers:

• First, step out of viewing your mother just as your mom. Instead recognize that she is a whole person, and give her the acceptance that she deserves. Instead of focusing on her weaknesses or what she didn’t do, also focus on her strengths and what she did well.

• Then, appreciate that she grew up in her own imperfect world, in a family system with vulnerabilities that existed long before you were even born.

• And recognize that how your mother was parented became the model of how she parented you. Maybe she did the best she could!

• If you want to be fully appreciative of your mother, do your best to let go of your grudges.

• If your mother is still alive, and you both have the opportunity to speak to each other about your experiences, why not do so while you can?

• And if she is no longer alive, remember, your relationship continues inside… and there is no expiration date on acceptance or forgiveness!

In an ideal world, mothers are seen as the emancipators, but now it is up to you- to turn the tables and emancipate her.

* * * * * * * *

You can now watch the 10-minute talk on Youtube using this link!!

7 Proactive Things To Do To Help You Develop Professionally – A Guest Blog

I am pleased to share this guest blog written by Tracie Johnson

Professional development is one of the most important aspects of your career. Unless you go back to school and get your Ph.D., it’s hard to know what will help you make a bigger impact on your career. At this point, there are so many resources that it can be difficult to know where you should start first. Here are things you can do to help you develop professionally.

1. Get Clear on Your Personal and Professional Goals.  Create a list of long-term and short-term goals that have meaning for you personally and professionally. Then create a plan on how you’re going to achieve each goal. Where possible, ensure that the steps related to your goals are measurable.

2. Keep a Journal.  You can use a journal to keep track of things like your professional development activities, personal development, and general progress. Don’t make it too long; you don’t want to wear yourself out or give up if it’s not a productive activity. You can also use your journal to schedule some time every week to review where you’re at professionally, journal about your goals, and create plans for achieving them.

3. Think Career Not Jobs.  Make sure you’re thinking about your career and not just a job. This will help you to have a longer view of things and allow for more holistic thinking about the various aspects of your professional life. For example, if you keep changing jobs because they don’t fulfill you, think about what might be missing at work or how you can change your current situation to work.

You may also advance your education and build your skills when thinking long-term about your career. If you hold the same job for a long time, think about how to build on your current position and advance while still being in the same role.

4. Find or Get a Mentor.  A mentor can help you with your professional and personal development by giving you advice on a specific area or simply having someone who understands what it’s like in the workplace.

Sometimes people will use the term “mentor” when they mean someone who has similar responsibilities to them, but there are still benefits to having a mentor, even if it’s not in a supervisory role.

5. Ask for Feedback. Asking for feedback is one of the best ways to improve your professional performance. While you can ask for feedback from your boss or a direct supervisor, you can also ask peers and colleagues who may be more willing to provide more honest feedback. One way to ensure that you get meaningful feedback is to give the person clear instructions on the areas you want them to focus on. Sometimes, people will be too afraid to tell someone they need to work on something if they don’t give clear instructions.

Networking and making key connections can really help with career movement and opportunity

6. Network.  Connecting with others can help you learn and build relationships, with is a great way to improve your professional skills. You can meet people during workshops and other educational opportunities, find people at work that you can learn from, join online forums and groups, or reach out to your contacts by phone or email and ask them whether they’d be willing to connect with you. The more networking opportunities you have, the more likely you will be able to meet new people and develop professional relationships.

7. Learn a New Skill.  There are so many ways to learn new skills that can help you improve your professional development. Some common examples include studying a new programming language, completing a short course, or reading more books on your current area of interest. You might also consider learning how to market yourself better, which is probably something you haven’t had much training in if it wasn’t required at work.

Conclusion:  If you want to improve your professional standing, you can’t just rely on what is happening at work. While it’s understandable that you may be too busy with your job to take on extra responsibilities, there are proactive things that you can do to help build your skills and further improve your professional career.

* * * * * *

Total Engagement Consulting offers companies and organizations an innovative approach to help retain and grow their employees through the Total Engagement Career Mapping offering.