If you can’t say anything nice…and other wonderful pieces of motherly advice

If you can’t say anything nice…and other wonderful pieces of motherly advice

By Cassandra Charlesworth

Ever caught yourself wheeling out one of those motherly phrases that seem to have been passed down from generation to generation? You know the ones – the bright glowing pearls of wisdom that sprang forth so effortlessly from their lips.

Well, with Mother’s Day tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on some of the best...  

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all

Oh, so true Mum…and how I wish I had heeded that more often. There’s rarely an excuse to get narky, particularly behind someone’s back.

The thing that’s salient about this little phrase is that it’s as much an ode to positivity as it is subtle caution about being a bitch.

Don’t go ‘round telling people your problems…most people don’t care and the rest are glad you have them

Admittedly when my grandmother first shared this gem, I thought it was a pretty negative view of the world. Thirty years later I see the merit, with the disclaimer that your true friends care.

Life isn’t fair

Nup it really isn’t. But you can be rewarded for effort and occasionally get very lucky!

Don’t sweat the small stuff

This little pearler fell on totally deaf ears when Mum casually mentioned it during the HSC. However, a little life experience indicates you can waste a whole lot of effort and energy stressing over what can or might happen, but hasn’t happened yet.

Oh and if the worst occurs, you can ‘cross that bridge when you come to it’!

Be yourself, everyone else is taken

Awesome, awesome little nugget of wisdom, but why does it take so long to sink in?

If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
This phrase has to get an honourable mention, because as much as you thought your mum had no clue about being a teen when she said it, turns out she was making a pretty good point about individuality and peer pressure.

And go on, admit it…a generation later, you’ve used it too.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

What a beautiful ode to empathy and a life lesson a lot of leaders, haters and critics could take on in the knowledge there’s ‘two sides to every story’.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat

Hmm, nice imagery Mum, but a pretty succinct way to get to the heart of problem-solving and resilience. This phrase came to mind recently as I stopped uttering expletives and set about resurrecting a waterlogged laptop.

And yes, my alternative method of ‘skinning’ wasn’t pretty, but I am typing on that laptop now! 

Life’s short, savour the moment

And there are indeed so many beautiful moments to savour.

Go for it

Doesn’t matter when or where this phrase is applied, it offers the freedom to try. You might try and succeed, you might try and fail, but in those other great motherly words of wisdom “at least you gave it a shot”.

What are the best words of advice your mum has offered?

Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her lounge room floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.

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