Mothers and Daughters
"When you're asking about, you know, how mommy and daddy raised kids who were grateful," Maria says, "I think one of the things that my parents did is they put pictures all over our house. … Pictures of kids in Africa. Kids who were disabled, in institutions. And [mom] would explain why her work affected those children's lives and those families' lives. She would constantly talk about what we could do that might have an impact. So every Thursday, for example, she put a piggy bank on the table and said, 'I would normally be spending this amount of money for groceries but now we're putting the money in the piggy bank and you're eating cereal so I can send the money to Africa.' Now, she didn't realize that we liked eating the cereal—but she was constantly trying to talk about what was going on in the rest of the world to open our minds and let us know that we were lucky and that we should be grateful."
"I think you have to be there when they're there," Eunice answers. "I think if you're out to dinner and lunch all the time and you don't have a ceremony at night—at least a dinner together—you lose that contact very quickly. And we always tried to do that in our family. When I was growing up, I never saw my father go out to dinner once in our whole life, and I never saw my mother go out. They were always at the table with the nine of us. So that was a kind of commitment by them to us. I think that's very important."
Eunice and Maria still talk almost every day and say the person they admire most is one another! But they recognize the challenges of raising healthy, respectful, grateful, giving children and are here to help other mothers and daughters mend their relationships.
"I'm a girl who will tell you it's fun to shop," Oprah tells Alia, "but after you bought all of those things, did you really feel better?" Alia admits that the temporary high she gets from shopping is soon replaced by remorse.
Eunice says she thinks that Alia will find more lasting satisfaction by reaching out in her community. For example, Eunice says Alia could devote time each week to tutoring. And Maria encourages Alia to have more gratitude toward her mother. "What can you do to help her?" Maria asks Alia. "What can you do to honor and say thank you?"
Maria says even though lots of people were rolling their eyes at her relationship with former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, her mother Eunice kept any reservations she had to herself. "She never said, 'Don't do that,'" Maria says. "She just said, 'I trust you have a good opinion. I trust your judgment. You go for it.'" And Eunice always encouraged Maria to do whatever scared her most. "If you stay afraid, you stay paralyzed," Maria says. "That's something I think women do a lot. They want to be perfect. They don't want to make a mistake. And the only way you learn and grow is if you make mistakes, if you take risks."
"You cannot talk a woman out of a man that she believes she's in love with," Oprah tells Sylvia. "You just have to be there for her when it doesn't work out. You have to be—Dr. Phil always says this—her soft place to fall."
"One of the T-shirts I wear a lot says, 'Well-behaved women never make history'—and it's true!" Maria says. "Women who are consumed with fear never break out and have any experiences or try anything new. Women who want to be perfect only end up feeling bad about themselves. I think that that's one of the things that I learned from [my mother] was, like, go out. Make a mistake. Have the guts to fail and talk about it. There's nothing wrong with that."
"He will call me, literally, I'm telling you, from the capitol: 'Have they done the laundry?'" Maria says. "I go, 'Arnold, you're running a state. Don't worry about the laundry!'"
Maria and Arnold's daughter Christina says Arnold will also hide anything he finds left out of place. "If you open up a cabinet, behind pots and pans, you'll find, like, a pair of shoes or something."