And the truths that can empower our parenting
The pressure is real. The ads say it, social media screams it. Moms have to be perfect. We need to have it all figured out — how to be playful and fun, structured and planned, how to know what every cough, sneeze, cry, or whimper means.
Ideally, we’d be a little Dr. Phil, a whole lot Martha Stewart. We’d be as smart as Megyn Kelly, cook like Rachel Ray and have Ellen’s sense of humor. Everywhere moms today struggle against the many pressures that gnaw at us, that control us, that tell us we are not enough and that we better try harder, stay up longer, and make it happen.
Psychologist Diane Sanford, PhD, health expert for the American Psychological Association noted in an article for Today Parenting, “Women tend to compare and measure themselves against unrealistic images and then feel they fall short.” Somewhere along the way we have created an ideal and largely unrealistic vision of what motherhood entails, good motherhood that is. We’ve created a myth. We’ve believed a lie. And the lies are controlling us, exhausting us, and destroying us.
Here are a few myths about being a mom we need to recognize and the truths we need to set us free to begin celebrating our role as a mom and enjoying our children in these precious years.
Myth #1. We must do everything for our kids if we are going to be a good mom.
We race around deliriously believing that the sign of our exhaustion is proof of how we measure up as a mom. We will carry ourselves to Target at 10pm, bake cookies into the wee hours of the night, never miss a practice, a rehearsal, or skate party, as if our lives depended on it. We feel guilty if every minute of our day isn’t completely devoted in thought or action to our beloved little ones.
The truth is our kids don’t need us to do everything for them. In fact, they actually benefit from learning to do more for themselves. Good moms recognize their sense of self-worth must come from something other than their identity as a mom. They are able to care for themselves well. They are at peace with the fact they can’t do everything and simply focus on enjoying the activities and tasks they can do.
Myth #2. If we can be the perfect parent, we can raise perfect children.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent and there is no such thing as perfect children. The truth is no matter how hard you try, you are going to impact your children in ways you don’t necessarily want or intend. Though this has never been any different, modern motherhood has made the pursuit of perfection or near perfection a consuming goal.
The thinking is if we are perfect for our children, we can guarantee their future, and at the same time counteract the wounds from our childhood. We are all on our own journeys. It’s not your job to be perfect, nor will striving for this goal benefit your children. It is your job to be you, to heal your wounds, to live your life in the most fulfilling way possible. This version of you is what your children need most. God has to be the God of our children, not us.
Myth #3. We must give our kids everything if we are to be a good mom.
In reality, “more” is making moms and their children miserable. Between activities, possessions and commitments, we’re being suffocated by the very things we hope will enrich us, fill us, or give us the momentary happiness for which we long.
The truth is, we’re all driven towards abundance, but what we’re looking for today is the wrong kind of abundance. External things were never meant to fill us, or give us the satisfaction we desire. Until we learn to look to God and ourselves for our inner abundance, we will continue to accumulate indiscriminately. Instead, give your kids yourself. Spend time with them instead of buying them. Teach them to dream, to love God, to enjoy the people in their lives, to serve others, and to find meaning in the present moment. These are the most precious gifts we can give our children.
Myth #4. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
We live with the internal motto that we can do everything. We don’t like to ask for help. We fear that asking would mean we were weak, perhaps incompetent. We tell ourselves, Everyone else seems to manage everything alone, I should, too.
The truth is, though more virtually connected than ever, mothers have never been so isolated in the rearing of children. We aren’t meant to raise children alone. We can ask for help from our friends, our neighbors, our family members. We can seek wisdom from other moms who have walked the road before. We can even reach out to professionals to help when our best efforts are running short and we don’t know where to turn.
Myth #5. We should be enjoying every moment.
Somehow we wake up every morning believing that every breakfast, every diaper change, every minute of our time with our children should be both enjoyable and meaningful. If it isn’t, we must be doing something wrong.
The truth is, parenting is a wonderful, beautiful, miraculous experience unlike any other on earth. But not every moment is going to be wonderful, beautiful, or exciting. It just isn’t. It’s not supposed to be. Life is about finding meaning in the mundane, about living thoughtfully and authentically each moment and trusting that this is enough. Mothering is a sacred calling, though every experience is not intended to be. Free yourself to be present in whatever moment you are in and trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. It is enough. You are enough. God is enough.
Free yourself to be present in whatever moment you are in and trust that it is enough. You are enough. God is enough.Click To Tweet
Myth #6. If we parent right, our kids will love us.
Perhaps…when they are 25 years old. Most kids will be kids. They will love us, they will hate us, they will feel many things about us throughout their young lives. Our children were never placed on this earth to complete us, love us, or make us feel good about ourselves. That is not their responsibility. If we are parenting only to receive their affection or approval, we will not be effective parents.
Our children were never placed on this earth to complete us, love us, or make us feel good about ourselves.Click To Tweet
The truth is if you are parenting effectively you will get a mixture of emotional responses from your children. Your parenting decisions should never be based on your emotional needs. The best parenting decisions are made in the context of what your children need to learn, how they need to grow, and what will provide the best tools for them have the healthiest, most meaningful lives as adults.
We need to stop living on the treadmill of comparison, insecurity, disappointment, and guilt. God gave your children you to be their mom, because they needed you, with all your flaws, all your insecurities, all your quirks and hang-ups. Be the best “you” you can be. Pray for wisdom in each decision. Trust your intuition in each situation. Leave the rest to God. He is in control anyway.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. My online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. At heart, I am just a Southern girl who loves beautiful things, whether it is the beauty of words found in a deeply moving story, the beauty of a meal cooked with love, the beauty of a cup of coffee with a friend, or the beauty seen in far away landscapes and cultures. I have fallen passionately in love with the journey and believe it is among the most beautiful gifts to embrace and celebrate. While I grew up in the Florida sunshine, I live with my husband just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
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