It was approaching 2:00pm, 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 amount of hours left in my afternoon to tackle them, I freaked
a little a lot.
I told the kids to start cleaning up, and got major attitude from my son. 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. “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. 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 do this?
We realize on some level, that while more adorable than the rest of us, they need rescuing from their sins too. Their hearts are bent towards their own desires and they need a Savior like anybody else.
We know the importance of teaching our children the gospel and witness their impulsive, selfish behavior day after day, so why are we shocked when they behave like sons of Adam and daughters of Eve? Why are we so quick to blame ourselves, or worse, other parents?
It’s the same reason why 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 son Josh’s immorality. It’s also why people support and defend “the right to choose”.
Because we believe that children are just an extension of their parents. If our child accomplishes something amazing, it’s our accomplishment. If they’ve failed miserably, it’s our failure.
But your children are not a reflection of you; they are made in the image of God.
They are going to be tempted and don’t yet have the tools to resist, or sometimes even the ability to identify their own emotions. They are going to have those moments when they sin against you and struggle with sin, but these shouldn’t define your worth as their mother. It is an unfortunate part of the shared human condition.
Us 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.
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.
We know we’ve been forgiven and that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Why do we pick the shame and guilt back up when we have kids?
Our responsibility as parents is to guide them on their faith journey and provide an environment which 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 do the work of convicting.
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.
What is your biggest fear when it comes to parenting your children? This week, take some time to confess that fear to God and ask for the faith to believe He is in control over it, along with help in releasing the burden of guilt to Him.