Is it Ever Too Late to Become a Great Mom?

clockclockWe’ve been getting lots of emails at The Power of Moms from mothers who believe in the mission of this site and want to apply what they’re learning to their families, but they wonder if it’s too late.

Many of these mothers are past the infant stage.  Some have 10-year-olds, some have 20-year-olds, and others are already grandmothers.

The emails we’ve received are full of heartache–and a glimmer of hope.  We can tell that these mothers love their children and are looking for ideas and support to help them become the mother they really want to be when they’re starting a little late in the game or when they didn’t experience positive mothering first hand when they were growing up.

We’d love your help answering the following questions from our readers:

  • Is it ever too late to become the mother you want to be or to implement deliberate mothering techniques?
  • Can you effectively develop great relationships with teenagers if you haven’t built a firm foundation for that relationship all their lives?
  • How do you get your older kids going on a positive behavior system or a system of family housework participation if you didn’t start it when they were toddlers?

(We’d love to hear stories, book recommendations, links to great blog posts, practical ideas, etc.)

To read the parallel conversation on Facebook, please click here.

Thanks!

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Comments

  1. says

    My oldest is 13 so I don’t have a ton of experience, but I have watched my in-laws parent their older children and while it may be too late to implement deliberate family systems, chores etc…. It is NEVER too late to deliberately and intentionally LOVE! I watched my mother-in-law drive 2 hours every month to connect with her son and daughter at college, fill their fridge and take them to lunch or dinner even while they were pushing away from the family. I have watched them open their arms when they chose to come home. I have watched them love and serve and make deliberate attempts to create family memories and family time together. Doing all this while standing strong with their beliefs and not comprimising what was important to them. It has been amazing to watch.

  2. Ingrid says

    I have 9 children ranging in age from 6 months to 21 years. I am a much more knowledgable and practiced mom now than I was 20 years ago, and for sure I wish I knew then what I know now. Having said that, I do think that I can still make positive and significant impacts on my older kids, who I “messed up” on a lot when they were younger. I can listen listen listen (which I have found is one of the very best tools in my bag), and counsel very little (except when directly asked, and even then, be concise, not wordy). I can talk with them about the mistakes I made as a young mom, to help them see that I have learned more and become better, and help them to break the negative patterns I may have established, through teaching and discussion, when my example might be too late. I can still love love love them, it is never ever too late to show love. Never ever. I am sure that 20 years from now I will have lots more to say. :-)

  3. Anna says

    I am anxious to follow this one! I have two adult daughters–one married with 2 kids and one who is still in the college years but also getting ready to serve a mission for our church–and I am interested in seeing what I can do better with them at their ages.

  4. Christine says

    I have three beautiful children 20 18 and 15. I notice they are separating and becoming their own beautiful people and I couldn’t be more excited for them or proud of them. I am, however, aching with sadness as I notice ALL of their posted photos are of vacations and good times that I have missed out on. There are numerous photos of them individually and collectively with their father on vacations and significant events. I however, am not in ANY photos even if I was at the particular event and it has been years since I have been able to afford a vacation with them. I work many hours and I am there for their needs, but I am afraid I have not made any impressions of FUN or lighthearted relaxing times. They all love Jesus and make good choices. I couldn’t ask for more….. Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself.. Yuk!!

  5. Karen says

    I don’t think we know exactly what kind of mom we are, until our children are grown and gone off to live their own lives. If your adult children continue a close relationship with you, stopping by to visit you…even when they don’t need a babysitter. Or if they always remember you on special occasions, and even include you in their social circle, or if they don’t do any of that. That’s when we know. The relationship that an adult child maintains with their mom is the mom’s proof as to whether she’s a good mom or a bad mom. When your children are in their 30’s, it’s too late to go back and be a better mom. We can’t undo things that happened or harsh words that were spoken 20-30 years ago. My advice to young moms today, (that I wish someone would have given me when my children were young, constantly ask yourself…”If my son remembers the way that I just yelled at him 20 years from now, will it make him love me less?” If you say something hurtful to your child, they WILL remember it for the rest of their life, and it will hurt no less when they are in their 50’s.

  6. says

    I think I have been an emotionally abusive mom-the kind of mom I had and hated. I suffer from depression and bipolar and just recently was accused of having done things emotionally to my children I didn’t even realize i did. I am a piece of —- and a horrid person, stupid, mean and worthless as a human being. I cant take back what i did and I wish I were dead. There are no support groups for people like me and no matter what I Google i can’t find anyone who feels like I do who has done what I have done. I cant take it back. I cant be happy knowing what I have done. its too late…….

    • April Perry says

      Your comment touched my heart. From what I know about mothers around the world (as a co-director of Power of Moms), I am 100% positive that you’re not alone. And I have zero doubts that you can make changes in your life to help you move forward. No, you can’t take back the mistakes you’ve made, but it is a LIE to think that because you have regrets and because you made (even) major mistakes in the past that you are doomed for the rest of your life. That is simply not true. I’m going to post this on our Power of Moms Facebook page for more advice. I promise there is support for you that you just haven’t found yet. With love, April

    • says

      Oh your post as also touched me to the core. I agree with April–the feeling that you are too far gone, that your life or mistakes are irreparable are untrue. They are definitely real feelings that I have felt at times. But they are simply a lie. I wished I could just vanish. Thinking that my family would be better without me. I had thoughts of hurting myself. But, really you are worth so much. You are doing your best and that is all God asks of us. We as parents can change and I believe in you. I hope you just know that you are not alone. You are loved.

    • Kim says

      I know what it like to feel like you are a complete failure as a mother because I have felt like that too many times in the past 2 years as I have battled postpartum depression. The one thing that stuck out to me in your comment was that you were accused of doing things emotionally to your children that you didn’t even know that you did. That is the key! So often we don’t realize what we are doing when we are in the heat of the moment. I guarantee that I have done things that if others had seen them they would have accused me of the same things. WE ARE NOT PERFECT! But those things were brought to your attention and now you can work on them. Not fix them overnight but work on them. Go to counseling if you need to. I did and it has helped tremendously. Seek the advice and help of a good doctor for the emotional disorders if you already haven’t. Remove as much stress as you can in your life if possible. And lastly if you believe in a higher power PRAY! God loves each of his children individually no matter their choices. Your children were sent to you for a reason, because YOU and only you can give them what they need, your experience, your love and yes even your mistakes. Do not lose hope, do not give in to the dark side or it will drag you down to misery. Please know that you are not alone. Keep searching out a support group I promise that they are out there. Sending love and prayers from one struggling mom to another.

    • julianna says

      Goobell, we all feel that way at one time or another. Please, though, don’t allow it to lead you to define yourself the way you did in your comment. You are a daughter of God and He loves you. As mothers we do the best we can with what we have. As we learn and grow sometimes we look back and wish we’d handled things differently. As you said, you didn’t realize you were doing anything hurtful to your children. If you now realize that there were things you wish you handled differently, tell them that. Make things right with them as best as you can and move forward in life learning from these new revelations, but please, please, please do not define yourself as a “horrid person, stupid, mean and worthless. Do the best you can and pray for God’s help to make up the difference between your best and what your children need.

    • Dayna says

      It is never to late to ask for forgiveness
      You will be amazed how it feels –
      Give your children a chance to see that you have changed
      ASK FOR THEIR HELP!
      ASK FOR THE LORD’s HELP!
      THEN BE SURE YOU LISTEN FOR THE ANSWERS AND FOLLOW THEM.
      DO WHAT THEY ASK YOU TO DO –
      YOU CAN RECOVER and be happy -

  7. Sarah says

    Goobell. Oh my friend your comment hit me for several reasons! But the first thing is Don’t You Dare Give Up!! So you have made mistakes. Start now. Do something small today that is emotionally positive for your children. Don’t think about tomorrow or next year take it a day at a time and maybe even an hour at a time. YOU CAN do this!! I know you can because you are here reaching out and reading about how to be the best mother you can be! Mothers who do not care do not come to this group! And you my dear care and love your children so don’t give in!! I am sorry you can’t connect with other moms whose be in a similar situation but you have a group here that will support you and it us made up of imperfect mothers I promise!!! I have weaknesses too and to be honest there are days when I think just make it through the next hour without yelling and them I go to the next hour. This is a hard job but you have this job and NO ONE can fill your position in your home! Remember your children need YOU!! So you mentioned mental illness are you getting help? They can help you make action plans, goals and stratified that will help you day by day hour by hour. Use these resources to help you! Trust me they can help in so many ways and if you are not getting help please do, if your eyes were hurt you would go to an eye doctor if you’re feeling like your emotions are not right or there is a mental illness go to a mental illness physician (psychiatrists and psychologist). They can help and get your partner to be involved if they are in the home. You are NOT alone!! Reach out please! Also take a breath and let a day pass time brings wisdom, strength and clarity when addressing serious things. You CAN do this start today grab each of your children hug them like you never have and look them in the eye and tell them you love them! Baby steps lead to bigger steps and then before you know it you have created a pattern of emotional health in your home. You can do this! Please try don’t give up and most of all forgive yourself and move to on to making things better. I know this is all a lot harder than it sounds but the first steps are the hardest. A hug and an “I love you” can soften situations and soften hurt hearts. I don’t know you but you will for sure be in my prayers today friend. Remember you can do this!

  8. Nicola says

    I just posted in response to this on Facebook. It’s never too late to connect with your kids. I am a 34 year old mother of two wonderful and boisterous boys (both still young), but it’s only been in the last 10 years, maybe not even that long, since I really felt I connected with my Mum. My mum brought my sister and I up on her own from when I was 6 and I’ve always respected that. She wasn’t the easiest mother to live with, dealing with her daily battles with depression and anxiety. We always knew that she loved us though and would do anything for us, she just wasn’t an intentional or deliberate mother. I have always said I wanted to be different from that (I’m trying at least), but as I started getting older I also started to get to know what was going on in her mind and she started being a deliberate mum and is now a deliberate Gran. So it’s never too late, just take one day at a time and remember it’s ok to have bad days. Find an alternative way of releasing pent up emotions and talk openly with your kids about how your feeling. I promise, it’s never too late! x

  9. beth says

    Goobell- I hear you. I feel you. There are some days that I think I am you. And that is normal, probably. But it is never too late. I am raising two boys, both with their own set of issues, as every child has. My youngest has attachment issues and a whole slew of diagnosis that basically boil down to this: control and behavior issues. I am frustrated with him on a daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute basis. I start over a million times a day. You faced your demons. You said it out loud and you acknowleged that you wish your reactions were different. Now the hard work begins. Hard. NOT impossible. You’ve got this! You can do it. I make the decision every day to be the kind of mom I want to be for my boys, instead of the kind of mom my boys push me into being. And so can you. I beleive in you.

  10. Charla says

    Goobell, “as long as there is life, there is hope”. Just remember that change is a process not an event – it’s ok if things take a while to turn around. Sending you my love!

  11. J says

    Goobell–Hang in there! Thank you for reaching out and sharing honestly. You have no idea how many complete strangers wish we were right there in your living room to put our arms around you and look you in the eye and tell you with strength that YOU CAN DO THIS! Sending love and support!

  12. Melissa Holt says

    It is never to late to become who God made us to be – and if he blessed you with a child then that is what he called you to be – he chose you and blessed you to care for them. He has equipped you with everything you need to be successful in this precious role. As humans we are a beautiful mess – we are not perfect – we are flawed – sometimes our mistakes are small and sometimes they are large – but they are never too big to be forgiven. We are like caterpillars cocooning in the world around us. It is the deliberate actions that morph us into the beautiful butterflies that we were meant to be. All it takes is a choice – choose that intention.

    Deliberate mothering builds trust and security in your relationship with your child. Even if your child resists at first they will come around no matter how old they are. We were made to be loved and to share that love. EVERY child needs and desires to truly feel their mothers love – even if they are telling you something different – they do. Do not give up on them do not give up on yourself. It may take time to mend the past but your children are your legacy and they are worth the time and investment. The only person that you can change is you – they are listening, they are watching, they are taking it in – you have the power today to break cycles and change the futures of generations to come.

    Kids are super adaptable. Everyone functions better in the right environment – positive feedback and reinforcement, routines, consistency, and cleanliness – creates that environment and nurtures us to thrive. Like all new habits it will take awhile to become part of your family system but it will be worth it!

  13. Kate says

    All I can say is this blog post and the responses truly gives me hope for humanity. I also want to share my story. My daughter is turning four in a few months. Since she was about one, I have been letting her watch too much TV. I don’t think she watches more than average and I’ve always been very selective about programming but it’s still too much now that I have read some of the research and know how it shapes a child’s brain. As a single full-time working mother who struggles with several chronic illnesses but still wants to keep a clean house and put a homemade dinner on the table, I have let TV be the “babysitter” while I’ve tried to get things done around the house. She also spends her day at the best daycare I can find, but they have had some transitions lately and she’s moved to a different classroom for older children which seems a lot more chaotic than her previous classroom. I have seen some very negative changes and behaviors in my daughter, including tantrums, hitting, disobeying, not listening, reduced empathy, etc. When my mom commented one day that my daughter seemed “blunted” something in me snapped and I knew I had to make a change. So I turned the TV off in our house – completely off – she has zero screen time now. I made a decision to spend a full hour each day just playing with her when we get home. This is of course in addition to eating dinner together at the table, helping her with her bath, reading stories at night, etc. that were already part of our normal routine. I scaled back my expectations of myself for how much housework I am going to get done in a week. I had despaired that it might be too late to turn it around, but the results have almost immediately been nothing short of amazing. She is listening, she is being affectionate, she is more responsive, she is happier, better able to entertain herself, and she is so excited to play with me every day. She has stopped asking for the TV. So do I think it’s possible to change course and become more deliberate and intentional in our mothering? Yes, I do, and no matter how old your kids are, the time is now. We have to forgive ourselves for past mistakes, recognize that we are imperfect people who received imperfect parenting ourselves, and be willing to sacrifice some of our other responsibilities to spend more time being intentionally focused and loving with our kids. Have faith in children’s innate resilience and responsiveness to positivity, and have faith in your own ability to love them.

  14. Kate says

    I also wanted to mention that in order to give to others we have to have a full cup ourselves. One change that I have had to make is realizing that I get cranky when I don’t get enough sleep, am too stressed, don’t exercise and don’t eat right. It is easier for me to raise my voice or be too harsh when I am tired and cranky, which leads to guilt and regret. The first step in becoming a better parent may be practicing good self-care so that you have a full cup to give to your children.

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