Mom guilt. We have all felt it to some degree. Did I spend enough time with my kids today? Did I yell too much? Am I allowing them to be kids and have enough fun? What steps can I take to overcome this endless cycle of mom guilt?
Sometimes it goes even deeper to real situations. Even though it has been 14 years, I still have these thoughts that creep into my mind about how much I worked when my oldest son was born and how many times he had to be kept by others as a baby. Will he some day resent me? Is it why he is so much more grown up than the others? Did I scar him for life?
I think the first thing we have to do is define what is helpful guilt and what is harmful guilt. In order to do this, we have to identify what is reality and what is unrealistic expectation that we have built up in our minds. The best way to do this is to get down to the absolute truth.
When Is Mom Guilt Harmful?
Harmful guilt has nothing to do with what’s true and accurate. Actually, it is typically the fear of imperfection in disguise. It is not measuring up to a standard that you have set for yourself or a standard you feel others (family, friends, church, etc.) may use to judge you.
This delicate emotion puts us in a never-ending cycle of uncertainty. There is no pleasing this dictator because there is always another goal to fulfill, another person to please, or another ideal image to attain.
Moms guided by this harmful guilt often feel that they have to go through life perfectly so that they can avoid condemnation and disappointment.
Here are some common types of Mom Guilt that are Harmful:
- Comparison. No mom has it all together and there is no “perfect mom.” We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. We can not use another human as our standard for living.
- Bad Days. Look, we all have bad days. We all have bad moments. These don’t make us bad moms. We have to learn not to major on the minors and take in the big picture.
- Kid’s Development. Babies, toddlers, kids, teens, doesn’t matter, they all mature at different ages and in different ways. Your kid may never be the star athlete or the best at math but maybe they have a giving spirit or a musical talent. Don’t feel like your children have to measure up to anyone.
- Discipline. Please don’t let your children make you feel guilty for disciplining them. We as parents are responsible to teach them that breaking the rules has consequences and how to have healthy boundaries. They will not be scarred for life by missing out on an activity or getting grounded from video games.
This is by no means is an exhaustive list. I’m sure you could think of other things that make you feel guilty at times as a mom but I think a great question to ask yourself is this: Is this guilt I’m feeling helpful or is it harmful?
One last thing, remember that we have a very real enemy in Satan and he would love nothing more than to get you trapped in a harmful, guilty state of mind that doesn’t allow you to grow or move forward in faith.
John 10:10, NIV: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
When is Mom Guilt Helpful?
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” As moms, we are not immune from sin and mess ups.
Helpful guilt is the type of guilt that is conviction from the Holy Spirit that causes us to repent to God and change our behavior. But, it is not guilt that sticks around. The Lord forgives us and we are free to walk in His love.
Here are some healthy types of conviction:
- Losing our temper.
- Favoring one child over another.
- Being too harsh with our words.
- Failing to teach our children God’s word.
- Having an argument with our spouse in front of our children.
These types of behaviors need to be dealt with quickly. We may need to apologize to our children along with repenting to the Lord.
And, remember, there is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes we need to chat with some one who has been there or we need to seek godly council for a continuing issue with which we struggle.
How Do We Overcome Mom Guilt?
This is the goal after all, to live free of mom guilt that causes us to feel inferior, inept, or less than in anyway. So, how do we go about getting rid of mom guilt?
I want to give us three steps to help us overcome mom guilt today:
- Replace the lies of harmful guilt with truth.
- Repent of any healthy guilt and forget about it.
- Remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
The truth is that God chose you to be the Momma of those precious babies and there is no one else for the job. The truth is that you care for them and no bad day could take away their love for you. The truth is that you discipline them because you love them. The truth is that they will grow and mature in their time and you can trust God with that.
Second, it is never too late to get things right. If you have godly sorrow, or healthy guilt, that you need to clean your heart over, God is “faithful and just to forgive you.” (1 John 1:9) He is also ready to help you to walk in obedience and give them a mom worth imitating. And, most importantly, once you repent, He forgets and so can you.
Last, remember that Jesus died that you might live. He did not die for you to live in constant fear or shame. He wants you to walk in newness of life with a joy of one who has been set free. Live like you believe this Momma.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”Romans 8:1
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”2 Corinthians 3:17
Let me just close with saying this, our mom guilt not only hurts us but it hurts our families. Our children sense when we are on edge. It makes us very fearful and anxious individuals.
When we choose to replace the lies with truth, get right with the Lord, and live free, we give them a pattern to follow and show them a mom who walks under grace. And, they will see a mom who isn’t perfect but owns up to her mistakes and moves forward in God’s love.