When my children were little, I wanted to get it all right. I didn’t want to fail as a mom. I didn’t want to let them down.
So I worked hard; organizing, chore boarding, meal planning, scheduling, and reading every book I could find about getting it right for my little ones. I enrolled them in gymnastics and soccer as preschoolers, and then later began homeschooling them. I bought a wheat grinder and made bread.
It was all good stuff, but my motivations and priorities were misguided and I was miserable.
I believed two lies that trapped me in fear-based parenting:
- If my children were to grow up healthy, wise, successful, and love Jesus, I believed I was solely responsible and could not let up in my efforts.
- If I get it right, my children will do right and be safe.
My greatest mom fail is when I have mothered my children out of fear, believing it was all up to me.
This kind of parenting puts all the focus on my efforts and my children’s behavior. Am I doing it right? Are they getting it right?
My Effort is not Enough
My heart wanted good things for them and still does. Desiring wisdom and good health, joy and success for our children is what mothers should want, but mothering is about just that- mothering. It’s not about results. It can’t be because our children have a free will. There are no guarantees.
Being a mom is loving and seeking to faithfully teach our children about the grace of God, living it in front of them purposefully, not perfectly. Yes, we want to see fruit in their lives from our labor, but what if we don’t? Does that mean we have failed?
Where we Fail
We fail when we misplace our focus. We fail to laugh and enjoy our children we are focused on tasks and results. We fail to open our hearts to them when we have unhealthy expectations of them. We fail to gain their trust when we constantly police them. We fail to see how beautiful they are right now when we are focused on what they should become.
We are simply one instrument God uses to guide and teach them. Possibly, the most important one on this side of heaven, but only one. And he is the one who brings real change, true growth. We can only influence.
We will never get it all right, and even if we did, it would be no guarantee. We cannot protect them, program them, or perfect them. And God never asked us to do so.
Our role is to love, teach, guide, and discipline. We are asked to pray continually and trust the one who created them to finish what he starts in them. Prayer is actually the greatest thing we can do- strategic, fervent prayer (read more on prayer.)
Our enemy would love to distract us by drawing our focus to our own efforts and mistakes, instead of God’s desire to work in the lives of our children. He would love for us to believe that it’s all up to us, wouldn’t he? How overwhelming and discouraging that would be, right?
I’ve lived there, trying to be Super Mom for my children, wondering why I couldn’t get it together- discouraged and afraid. God is so much bigger than our weaknesses and bad parenting. They’re his children and he is not letting go of them because of our sins.
Will our choices in parenting, our baggage and weaknesses affect our children. Yes. Sorry. We were partially shaped by our parents too. Do our mistakes determine our children’s destinies? Nope. God’s truth is freedom for us all. We are not trapped by the sins of our parents or their parents. We have the freedom to choose God, and his power in us to heal us and change us.
He is good and we can trust him as our ultimate parents. So can our children.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13