You probably can relate to at least one of those types of mom guilt I posted Wednesday. Can you hear me when I say that you can release that guilt and not hold onto it? I know I’m guilty (hah!) of doing this myself. I store up guilt like it’ll run out and then break it out to remind myself how I’m really doing. Then I use it to question every decision I make.
I go into the mom groups with the expectation I will come out guilty. We parent differently than some of my friends, and I tend to take that as a personal attack on my ability to parent my child. The irony here is the friends I’m referring to don’t even know I do this! I compare myself to them and wonder what I’m doing wrong.
If you do this, too, can I deliver some truth that you and I both need to believe today?
Mom guilt should not run your life. Mom guilt should not even be a thing that you deal with unless you genuinely do not care about your child and therefore do not bother with his wellbeing.
If you subscribe to a different parenting style than I do or than your friends and family, good for you! You decided to do something to give your child the best upbringing, and you should be proud of your decision. Deciding to parent differently from those you care about is a tough choice. You chose to go against someone or several someones who you care about and trust because you wanted something different for your child. That is totally okay, and you are a good mom.
If you visited a group online or in person and got criticized for a question or decision you made, good for you! You asked for support and advice on something, and you stuck your own parenting decisions out there for others to see and comment on. It is so hard to share those things with others, especially when you wonder if they were right already! But you asked questions and reached out for support because you are a good mom who knows you don’t necessarily have all the answers! Brush the criticisms aside and move on with your parenting because you care about your child and know that you are working hard to give your child what he needs.
If your child suffered from a health problem and you found yourself in less than optimal circumstances, you put your child ahead of yourself. Isn’t that right? You took your child to medical professionals, whether on a regular checkup or because you suspected a problem. That shows you care about your child’s health and wellbeing, mama. You want your child to be healthy and have the best chance at life. You take the advice of medical professionals and work on doing whatever you need to in order to get your child’s health in order. For some of you, that means sacrificing things that are important like relationships, income, jobs, hobbies, events, and other things. You sacrifice to take care of your child. That mom guilt needs to take a hike because you, my friend, are a good mama.
God Wants Us To Give Ourselves Grace.
Are you a believer? I want to offer some encouragement as you consider where you carry mom guilt. God wants us to give ourselves grace and mercy. He expects us to make mistakes because we’re human. That doesn’t excuse us from doing our best as parents, but it should allow us to cut ourselves some slack.
I want to share some encouragement with you from the book of Romans. For a little background, I love Romans! I find so much encouragement and instruction in Romans, and if you’ve never studied the book of Romans, I would love to be the one to tell you to go for it! Romans is a letter from the apostle Paul that gives a lot of insight into what we believe about Christianity and how it works.
With no further ado, here are some great things to understand from Romans and how they apply to mom guilt.
No One Is Good
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” (Romans 3:10-12)
God says no one is good. Period. If you are a parent, your standard should be God, the perfect Father, not some other person, philosophy, or book. You won’t get it right, but you also won’t need to compare your progress to someone else because God offers His Word to guide you.
God Declares Us Not Guilty
“For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.” (Romans 3: 23-26)
Phew. I hope you get this, my friend. I hope it sinks in because this is so key to why we shouldn’t let mom guilt run our lives. God says you are not guilty when you choose to trust in His Son as Savior and Lord. Did you hear that? You receive a verdict of not guilty from the King of Kings! There is no reason to live life feeling guilty when He declares you to be right in His sight.
Troubles Give Us Hope, Not Guilt
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love have been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 1-5)
This passage gives us so much to hold onto. Seriously. First: you are justified by faith, and another way to say that is to say you are guilt-free! Second: God gives us grace, and in grace, we can stand tall and steady, not cower in fear and trembling. Third (and this is big): We endure troubles because they produce results like hope, and this world needs more hope! We hope that our troubles will end in health and wellbeing for our children, but even if they don’t we can stand in the grace we received from God as His child. We stand, knowing God gives us peace and hope for our future and our children’s future.
No One Can Condemn Us
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?” (Romans 8:31-34a)
You know those people who criticize your decisions on parenting? Yeah, those people. They have no power to condemn you. They can disagree all they want, but you do not have to take their criticisms as condemnation because only God can condemn. Period. So let it roll off your back, hard as that may be, because God does not condemn you for disagreeing on parenting.
You, my friend, live under grace, and you do not have to take on the burden of mom guilt. If you have been living with mom guilt for some time now, I ask you to try to let it go. Letting things go can be hard because we hold onto them so tightly or derive some sense of satisfaction from them, but letting go of mom guilt can be incredibly freeing. It can open you to taking care of yourself, making your relationship with God stronger, looking to Him for guidance rather than every book or group out there, and rearing children who look to God for their own salvation. And in the end, isn’t that what we want to see? Our children seeking after God?
A Quick Caveat
I can’t share all this without sharing a few caveats. You need to understand that mom guilt is something we do to ourselves, but we also inadvertently do it to others. In some cases, we outright guilt and shame other moms! Watch out for these things because they can tangle us up fast.
Don’t Be A Slave To Mom Guilt
“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 8:15-16)
You choose your master. This is true whether the master is money, food, stuff, shopping, sex, or mom guilt. Mom guilt becomes a master when you let it run your life. If you find yourself constantly feeling guilty about parenting decisions, you might be a slave to mom guilt. If your kneejerk reaction is to put blame on yourself when things go wrong, you might be letting mom guilt rule your life.
I know I have let mom guilt run my life. I saw posts on Facebook groups and immediately applied them to my life, usually negatively. I found fault in every little problem that came up with Emmeric. I took it to heart when people questioned my choices and assumed they were insinuating I was wrong about something. My kneejerk response was guilt rather than confidence.
I want to change that about myself. I believe every mom who cares about her child or children should be free to make parenting decisions that resonate with her heart. That doesn’t mean she should go against the law or even against doctors’ advice when there’s a medical problem to tackle. But it means moms should be able to parent the way they choose without fear of being guilted about their decisions.
But it starts with us. We choose our masters. Are you choosing God or guilt?
Don’t Judge Others
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)
“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:13-17)
I fall into this trap despite my own problem with mom guilt. This passage talks specifically to those who thought eating certain things were clean and unclean. It goes back to what God commanded the Jews to eat or not to eat. The passage applies to so many other areas of life, including mom guilt.
No one parenting philosophy or lifestyle is necessarily right or wrong. You probably parent differently than I do. I become a hypocrite if I judge you for the decisions you make in your parenting. Attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, hands-off parenting… these philosophies are all valid practices. Breastfeeding or formula feeding, cloth or disposable diapers, baby wearing or strollers, organic and homemade baby food or cheap and commercial baby food—these decisions give us enough grief without using them to pass judgment on others.
I need to remember that God judges, not me. I am not a parenting expert, nor do I have all the answers. So when I hear that someone parents differently from me and I disagree, I should not heap “mom guilt” upon that person. It’s just as wrong of me to do that as it is to make myself a slave to my own mom guilt.
Have I made your head spin? I know this is a lot. But I think I only touched the tip of the iceberg with this post. Mom guilt is a struggle for a lot of women. But it doesn’t have to be. God wants us to be free from the condemnation of guilt, and as moms we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get this mom thing right.
My last post in this series will continue this theme, so come check it out when it comes out on Monday. In the meantime, celebrate this Good Friday and Easter by reminding yourself of Jesus’ sacrifice for you on the cross. He died so that you could live fully and freely, so don’t heap mom guilt on yourself, sweet sister! Happy Easter!