No More Mommy Wars

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Moms these days are weary. Exhausted. Frazzled. Stressed. But we aren’t simply weary because we were up all night with a teething baby, or that our children will not obey, or that no matter how many times we pick up messes, they instantly reappear.

 

We are weary because no matter how much we do, it never feels like enough to win the Mommy Wars. You know what I mean by Mommy Wars. That constant competition we feel with other moms (yes, even our best friends) to be the best mom humanly possible. But if we are being perfectly honest with ourselves, is it really simply that we want to be the best mom possible? Or is it that we tear down other moms in an effort to build ourselves up? To make us feel better about our own imperfect parenting. We don’t simply want to be a good mom. We want to be the best. Better than everyone around us. And this competitive spirit is destructive and ungodly and is ripping apart our unity in Christ.

 

As soon as we get that positive pregnancy test, we begin the pursuit of being the best parent possible to produce the best children possible.  We read books on child training so that our children will be the best behaved children around. But then are we shaking our heads in disapproval when we see our friend’s children misbehave, thinking to ourselves, “It’s no wonder. If only they would apply ________ method, their children would behave.”? We research nutrition and healthy eating and work hard at implementing them in our homes.  But then do we criticize other moms for “obviously not caring enough about their children” to give them better food to eat? We spend countless hours organizing educational, developmental activities for our children, pouring our whole selves into them. And then do we frown in disapproval at the mom who takes time to sit down at a coffee shop by herself once a week, accusing her of neglect and self-centerdness?

 

If we have concluded that we want to raise our children on a schedule, do we assume that everyone should raise their children on a schedule as well? If we believe our family is best served by not allowing television and video games, then do we assume everyone who cares about the development of their children will do likewise? If we decide to homeschool our children, do we take pride in that we are raising our children in the Lord, and other parents are neglecting their responsibilities?

 

The list of possible ways in which we can compare and judge one another is endless, and all day long, we can weigh ourselves by these lists, either falling miserably short or succeeding. When we get on Facebook or Pinterest and see what other moms are doing, when we read a mom blog about home organization with little children, when we go to mom’s group and watch our children playing with others. We are tempted to compare, analyze, judge, and feel judged.

 

This attitude does little to foster sisterly oneness within the Body of Christ, and it certainly does nothing to extend grace to one another in our failures.  

 

We must be careful not to superimpose so many extrabiblical standards on what it looks like to be a good wife, mother, and family, that we are constantly weighed down by the burden of guilt and failure.  If we want to look at what the Bible says directly regarding parenting, amazingly enough, there are only two prescriptive passages on parenting in the New Testament. Let’s take a quick look.
 

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

 

Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

 

There are also a handful of passages about the importance of disciplining our children out of love (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15;23:13-24;29:15 Hebrews 12:7-11).

 

We are also commanded to teach our children Deuteronomy 11:19 “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

 

And then there’s the ever famous “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

 

That’s about it. From these passages we can gain an understanding that we are to teach, train, and discipline our children with patience, gentleness, and love. But the Bible doesn’t say how all of this looks specifically. It doesn’t give specific methods to produce godly, obedient children. In fact, the Bible tells us that if our children are obedient and godly, that is a work of God, and we cannot take credit.

 

The Bible doesn’t say it is right or wrong to co-sleep with your baby. Scripture doesn’t reveal whether it is beneficial to feed your baby on a schedule, or on-demand. God doesn’t prescribe exactly how it looks to teach our children to sit quietly in a church service, or at which age they are able to learn to do this. The Bible doesn’t say that we ought to train our children to play only with one toy at a time, or with a plethora. These are issues on which we can study humanity, personality, individual propensity towards sin, and conclude the best way in which to train and disciple our family.

 

Now, just because the Bible doesn’t give specific methods of discipline and instruction doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have meaningful conversations about practical application of these Biblical truths. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have desires, goals, intentions for how you would like your family to function. Just because the Bible doesn’t address these issues point blank doesn’t mean that there aren’t biblical principles that we can apply to training and disciplining our children.  But the specific conclusions we come to about childrearing should be held loosely, and above all, not applied to others in criticism or judgment. As we do this, we must remember that each family is unique, made up of different people with different needs. Therefore, each of our application of these truths will look different.

 

Let’s not import Biblical significance to personal preference, and therefore cause division in the Body of Christ where God did not put division. As Elyse Fitzpatrick says in her phenomenal book Give them Grace, “When we make parenting more complex than God has made it, we afflict ourselves with burdens too heavy for us to carry, and we are unintentionally presuming that the good news of the gospel is insufficient.” Let’s extend grace to others as we wish they would extend grace to us as we parent. And most of all, let’s remember the sovereignty of God as we parent. It does not depend on us to raise perfect, healthy children. We are responsible to seek God, train up our children, and point them to Christ. But the results are up to him. “Make it your overriding desire that the Father would be glorified in every aspect of your life, whichever way he turns it. Perhaps his plan is for your family to be a wonderful example of his grace because you have respectful, obedient children. Perhaps his plan won’t look anything like that. Perhaps his plan will be weakness, persecution, calamity, affliction. But whatever his plan is for you, you can rest in the assurance that he will always strengthen you by his grace and for his glory.”

 

There is not a parenting method that is flawless and that will produce perfect, godly, obedient children. And if this is our goal, than we have the wrong priorities. We are responsible to raise our children up in the knowledge of the Lord, but we cannot change our children’s hearts. That is God’s work. It is our responsibility to study the Scriptures, study our family’s needs, and train and instruct how God leads. It is God’s responsibility to cause fruit from our labor. It is not for us to judge and criticize another mom because she parents differently or  has different priorities, or because she is not having the same “results.” Remember that there is rarely a mother who actually doesn’t love her children or care about their wellbeing. Remember that the mom next door who parents completely differently than you loves her children just as much as you do.

 

Give yourself grace today, Mommy, as you seek to imperfectly parent your children. And give other mamas grace as they do the same. Instead of harsh criticism and whispering behind backs to point out flaws in others, wrap your arms around the hurting, weary struggling mom next to you, and point her to Christ.
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2 responses to this post.

  1. Reblogged this on 4 Men Proclaiming the 1 Hope and commented:
    An Excellent post by my wife on applying the Gospel to motherhood.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Lori Lombardi on December 15, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Thank you Thank you!!! I have read Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book and simply by reading healthy non-toxic ideas from this site that I might want to work towards but my hubby may not want to , my heart begins to tighten that we will all be LOST because of the type of mommy I would be to LET that happen. However, my obligation is to obey God by serving and honoring my husband so I sought the Gospel part of the site and am soooo happy you posted this reminder!! Thank you, Lori

    Reply

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