THEY are the maternal clichés pressed into every child’s heart. The collective wisdom of a generation of mothers for whom one must “always try your best” has been analysed with the revelation that the average mother passes on more than 40 pearls of wisdom.
These short moral maxims, usually delivered while mum is simultaneously rubbing dirt from a muddy cheek or flattening a spike of unruly hair, have been the subject of a study which discovered that the most popular phrases include “Always try your best” and “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.
The study of 2,000 mothers found that, unsurprisingly, they are most likely to encourage their children to do well in life by focusing on the positive rather than the negative and on the virtues of education.
Mums were likely to urge their children to “get an education because no-one can take that away from you” as well as also advising them “you only get out of life what you put into it”.
Additionally, mums are likely to pass tips along the lines of “smile” and “life’s too short to be unhappy”.
The study found that the average mother passes on 41 “pearls of wisdom” to their child during the course of their formative years.
Yesterday, Tim Fairs, a spokesman for Clinton Cards, which commissioned the research, said: “Even as adults we continue to go back to mum for her wisdom and advice on daily scenarios, because, as she says herself, ‘Mum knows best’.
“And it’s these little nuggets of information which we hold dear, and which get passed down from generation to generation. These pieces of advice might be small, but the very fact they stay with us for years on end prove they hold great weight.”
The survey shows mothers regularly display prudence when it comes to food – with some of their more memorable tips including “never take sweets from strangers”, “never swim on a full stomach”, “always eat breakfast” and “don’t eat cheese before bedtime”.
Good manners cost nothing according to the nation’s mums, who regularly tell their young to “eat with your mouth closed”, “never stare at people”, and to “mind your Ps and Qs”.
Other words of wisdom mums give to encourage good etiquette include “treat people with respect”, “treat others how you wish to be treated yourself” and “manners maketh the man”.
The study also revealed the majority of children always remember the advice their mothers pass down to them over the years.
In fact, the advice is so precious that seven out of ten adults regularly repeat the wisdom to their own children.
And 48 per cent of respondents continued to think their mother offered the best advice even when they had grown-up.
Mr Fairs added: “In an age where we’re bombarded with rules, guidance and expert advice, it can often be the little things that our mums say that prove to be the most memorable and help guide us through life.”
Furthermore, the study found two-thirds of people often catch themselves mid-sentence and think “I sound like my mum”, and 43 per cent often think they are turning into their mums.
But more than three-quarters of those people who have their own children hope these “pearls of wisdom” continue to be remembered and passed on to future generations.