when you fear you’re messing up your kids

messing up my kidsI don’t know quite when it started. That little voice in my head. But soon it became a familiar companion — constantly reminding me of my mothering inadequacy.

It never missed an opportunity.

When I couldn’t seem to get my kids to school on time: “A good mom would set better consequences and this wouldn’t be a problem.”

When I lost my temper: “See? You blew it again. What a great example for your kids.”

When I disappointed one of my children: “This is what they will remember about you. All the times you screwed up.”

When I gave in when I should have stood firm: “You are so weak.”

Sometimes it would say, “Their behavior is all your fault, you know.” Other times it would simply say, “You’re a bad mom.”

I found myself agreeing more and more. I believed what it told me was true: I was messing up my kids. 

One mistake, one failure, one angry outburst at a time, I was surely damaging them beyond all repair. 

The more I focused on my failings, the more hopeless and discouraged I became. Finally, I was broken. I told God that I couldn’t do this anymore. I needed Him to show me a way out. Slowly, He began to challenge me to quit hyper-focusing on my weakness and to begin focusing on His power.

When those “bad mom” voices began to pop in my head, I realized they were lies. God began to give me a new voice — His — to put them in their place.

His voice didn’t condemn me. It gave me hope and life. He began to tell me three things over and over again. He wants you to know them, too:

“I can redeem your mistakes.”

Motherhood revealed some ugly things in me — selfishness, impatience, unforgiveness, an unhealthy need for approval. Gradually, God began to work with me in these areas. I truly was making some costly mistakes with my children. God’s voice, however, is never condemning. He doesn’t say, “You’re a bad mom. You’ll never get it right. It’s hopeless.”

But how was I going to reverse unhealthy patterns and undo the damage? I couldn’t turn back the clock.

Here is the verse God gave me over and over: “He will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25.) Our job is not to try to “fix” the past. We can’t! The only thing we can do is to obedient to what is right for our kids TODAY.

I don’t understand quite how, but I know this to be true: As we follow God’s leading, He is able to use our mistakes for the good of our children. It becomes part of their journey that He can use to draw them closer to Him.

“You don’t have what it takes, but I do.”

For years, two facts drove my mothering: I wanted my kids approval. I hated conflict. These two facts drove me to give in over and over again. I knew I shouldn’t. I’d feel horrible every time I did it. So I’d resolve that tomorrow would be different. Then I’d waver. And the cycle would repeat itself all over again.

I felt so weak. And I was. So every morning, I began to wake up saying this prayer, “God, today give me YOUR wisdom and courage.”

I love what Ephesians 1:19-20 tells us: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

Mom, God has given us the same power that He used to raise Christ for the dead! We just have to ask for it.

The more I began to rely on His strength, the more strength I felt. I still didn’t (and don’t) like conflict, but I’m not afraid of it anymore.

My life bears witness to this truth: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

“Motherhood can’t be about you.”

I had to quit looking to my kids to make me feel good about myself. That’s not their job. It wasn’t fair to expect that of them. It was hurting our relationship. No kid wants that responsibility.

My love for my children and my confidence in God’s power gave me the courage to be guided by their well-being instead of my own. Even if it meant they didn’t like me. Even if it caused short-term pain and conflict.

Learning to rest in the knowledge that my worth could be found in God alone freed me to be the mom my kids needed.

 

After 18 years of mothering, I haven’t been able to silence those “bad mom” voices completely. I probably never will.

But I’ve learned not to agree with them anymore. You can, too.  

Melinda Means

Want to learn more about freedom from guilt in our mothering?
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the lightning charger for a low battery mom

the lightning charger for a low battery momWarning: Low battery 20%.

“Dismiss”

Low battery 10%.

“Dismiss”.

1%.

We quickly dim the brightness and turn notifications off. We know to conserve our phone power until we are around a reliable charging source.

We had to actually CHOOSE to ignore the two warnings of low battery life to continue to use it.

Then, gone……black screen. See ya’ later alligator….

Our phones even give us a warning.

Moms, we do this all the time. Not with the low battery warnings on our phones — with ourselves. Taking care of ourselves becomes an after thought. We completely ignore the warnings that God has placed in our lives to let us know that we are running on less than a full charge. Yet, we ignore the warnings. Dismiss. Dismiss. Dismiss.

Then — here’s the most ironic part — we are upset and angry at either ourselves or someone else (who hasn’t yelled out in their house, “Who took my charger?”) — when our phone dies. When our phones succumb to neglect, it has no other choice but to shut down to protect itself and its memory.

So much of life is like this. So many of us beat ourselves up and blame others for our “lack of juice” when we had the power to charge ourselves up the whole time!

Just as we plug in our electronics for chargng, so should we with our souls to God. When our “juice’ runs out and we are only at 10%, only the plugging in to the Holy Spirit is ever going to get us to 100%. And keep us there!

Plug your charger in the ultimate charging station, the Holy Spirit on a regular basis.

Consider prayer the lightning charger for a mom!

Kathy Helgemo

 

 

Find out more about how important your role is your family in our book Mothering From Scratch: Finding The Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family. 

the secret to family bonding

family bondingHeights are not my thing. 

When I was on my high school cross country team, I was terrified to run the bleachers. I’d get about halfway up and begin to feel woozy.

Sheesh — even looking down from the second floor balcony at the mall makes me break into a cold sweat. 

And yet there I was, ready to walk on thin, wobbly pieces of twine hovering hundreds of feet above the ground.

All in the name of family togetherness.

We were on vacation and my thrill-seeking family got all giddy when they spotted a nearby high ropes course.

You’re not going to chicken out, are you, Mom? my daughter asked.

No.

Yes!

Maybe.

All I knew is my turn better come quick. I couldn’t have too much time to think about this.

Micah and his sister cleared the first stretch of death with ease. I couldn’t believe I had volunteered for this.

Slowly, but surely, my fearless kids coached me through the challenges of the first level.

“Come on, Mom! You can do this! Just don’t look down!”

They’d almost convinced me that I could conquer the second level when I noticed a girl frozen mid-rope. “Rope resucers” had been dispatched to save the poor, paralyzed soul. Some were laughing and pointing. Others looked on with pity.

And suddenly it hit me. That would NOT be me. Time to return to solid ground — where the sane people live. From there, I cheered my husband and kids on and snapped pictures as they calmly cleared all three levels. Who are these people?

In the midst of hanging by a thread — literally and figuratively — it occurred to me that this was fun. THIS was how our family rolled.

We’ve tried other ways to bond. At one time, I was hot on making Family Game Night one of our beloved bonding traditions. In light of my kids’ competitive natures, it quickly threatened to become “Family Domestic Disturbance Night.” Mugshots are for post office walls, not the family scrapbook. Memorable? Yes. Heartwarming? No.

It took a while, but I realized our best family bonding seemed to occur when we were channelling adrenaline. So we hit all 14 roller coasters at Six Flags Over Atlanta. Cheer on the Tampa Bay Rays at nearby Tropicana Stadium. Play beach football. Hiked Stone Mountain. I even discovered that teaching and chasing after a lively roomful of four-and-five year olds at church once a month led to some great conversations and bonding with my teenage daughter.

Prior to that “Eureka!” moment, I had almost given up on planned family events. The kids usually complained about them anyway. What was the point?

But we can’t despair if some of our attempts at bonding fall flat.

Instead, think about your family’s personalities. Ask your kids what family times they’ve enjoyed the most. Then tailor your activities accordingly. I guarantee you that eventually you’ll find that “thing” that makes your family time thrive.

Apparently, for us, it’s the threat of imminent death. At least we’ll all go together.

Melinda Means

Want to learn more about how to find your unique parenting style?

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are you the anchor for your family?

strong familyIf you ever wonder whether you’re important and valuable, think about this:

We are the anchors for a strong family. That’s right. Our family is a huge, floating vessel on the sea of life — which is quite rocky, by the way — and we are the anchor.

Here’s how: 

1. We are heavy enough to do the job.

No, I don’t mean those extra pounds of baby weight. I’m talking about fortitude. You have the kind of strength it takes that no matter what is pulling you in either direction in life, you are incredibly ressitant to move from your powerful post as mom. As jobs, relationships and other life circumstances attempt to push you, your priorities are strong and tied with your family.

2. We make sure no one drifts.

Drifting can be so silent and sneaky. Before you know it, someone can be sort of carried off without any warning. They can move far, far away from your strong family. As moms, we see it, we feel it. When any of our kids is drifting, we not only throw out a life-preserver, we sometimes have to tie a rope around their waist and pull them back to the ship of our loving family.

3. We are the source of strength to ride out storms.

When a threatening storm rolls in toward our family, we hunker down. We go low and hold strong to the family that we have built and stay there until it’s over. The more firm we plant our weight, the more successful we are.

4. We are available anytime they need us.

Our availability is not questioned. When our kids need us, we show up. We don’t ask questions why or ask to be taken away from the job. We just offer our strength and get down to the heavy business of being a mom.

Being the anchor can be heavy, though. It’s so important that we go to the ultimate source of strength, Our Lord. Only He can provide the fortification that we need on a daily basis to stay strong. He tells us that we “not be weary” in Isaiah 40:31. This holds true for us as we embrace the role of anchor for our family.

Where do you feel that you’ve be “the heavy” in your family?

How have you been the anchor for your family during hard times?

When has God strengthened you? 

Kathy Helgemo

Find out more about how important your role is your family in our book Mothering From Scratch: Finding The Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family. 

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