Editor’s Note: Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religious preferences. Our Spiritual Sundays section is a place where our authors can write about thoughts that are more spiritual in nature, and our goal is to gather a wide variety of perspectives. If you (or someone you know) has something to add to this section to help us reach a wider audience of mothers, please send the submission to [email protected]
It was approaching 2 p.m., and not much had gotten done in the way of housework after a morning of playing, reading, and lessons. There were toys all over the living room, dirty laundry still in piles waiting to be washed, and dishes stacked in the sink.
Growing anxious about the messes and the shrinking number of hours left in my afternoon to tackle them, I freaked a little . . . okay, a lot.
I told the kids to start cleaning up, and my son responded with major attitude. I forget the exact words he said, but they felt like a punch in the gut. I sent him to his room and went back to sorting clothes. And the tears began to sting my eyes as I thought, I give, and I give, and I give, Lord! Everything I teach and instill and pour into them, the sacrifices I make homeschooling—it’s not worth it if I’m going to be treated this way.
And there, on my knees in front of the washing machine, I heard God gently say, “You’re not failing at this.” Then he reminded me that I am parenting children with sinful natures.
Shocker, I know.
Spend any amount of time with young children, and you’ll realize this: Their hearts are bent toward their own desires, and they need a Savior the same as anybody else. It’s something most of us moms easily forget, even though we spend a great deal of time and effort teaching them about Jesus.
Why do we forget our kids have sinful natures?
We do realize on some level that, while more adorable than the rest of us, they need rescuing from their sins too. We witness their impulsive, selfish behavior day after day.
We know the importance of teaching our children good values, so why are we shocked when they behave like sons of Adam and daughters of Eve? Why are we so quick to blame ourselves for the misdeeds of our children, or worse, other parents for the misdeeds of theirs?
It’s the same reason we criticized the mom of the toddler who ended up in the gorilla enclosure and the parents whose little boy was attacked by an alligator. It’s why we publicly crucified Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar after learning of their son Josh’s immorality.
It’s because we believe that children are an extension of their parents. If our children accomplish something amazing, it’s our accomplishment. If they fail miserably, it’s our failure. But our children are not a reflection of us; they are made in the image of God.
They are going to be tempted, and they don’t yet have the tools to resist. Sometimes they don’t yet even have the ability to identify their own emotions. They are going to have those moments when they sin against us and struggle with sin, but these shouldn’t define our worth as their mothers. It is just an unfortunate part of the shared human condition.
Our worth as mothers has nothing to do with our children’s sins and struggles. We moms carry the weight of our children’s mistakes and flaws on our shoulders, internalizing every one as our own. But we don’t need to. We can let Jesus do that.
He is the one who bore our kids’ sins in His body on the cross. He is able to carry that heavy load. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If we can give our own shame and guilt to Christ Jesus, why do we pick them back up when we have kids?
Our responsibility as parents is to guide our children on their faith journey and provide an environment that fosters a love and respect for the Lord. We instruct them according to the Bible’s teachings and lead them to Jesus. Then we let the Holy Spirit change their hearts.
We want so badly for there to be a formula that produces the desired outcome. Fortunately, we have a God who is able to watch our kids when we can’t. He knows every single next step they will take. He can, yes, even weave a wayward child’s story in such a way as to redeem him or her.
There are many things within our control, but a lot are simply outside our own power. Understanding who ultimately determines our children’s future and well-being allows us to let go of mom guilt and walk in freedom.
QUESTION: What is your biggest fear when it comes to parenting your children?
CHALLENGE: This week, take some time to think about your biggest parenting fear and decide what you can do to release the burden of mom guilt.
Edited by Kat Tilby and Katie Carter.
Image provided by the author.