Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mothering and Guilt

There is one thing that seems to be certain when we women become mothers, that we will feel guilty about the choices we make for our children.

False Guilt

At Bible College I remember one of my teachers saying that all guilt is false guilt. It comes from the enemy of our faith, trying to stop us from being more effective in our lives. And in the area of parenting there is no shortage of guilt to be found.

Passing the Baton

Tragically the most common form of mother guilt seems to come from other women. I’ve heard it often referred to as “The Mommy Wars.” It stems from women sharing often unwanted advice about how we should do exactly what they do or did as a mother. Then as we begin to feel under attack and the projection of that mommy guilt, we get defensive and start attacking back to make the other women feel the same way.

Guilt or Conviction

Sometimes it is good for us to feel uncomfortable about decision we make or actions we take. There are occasions when we learn something new and realize that we need to make a change. This is when it is easiest to feel guilt. Yet it is not guilt that motivates us to change. It is conviction about the mistake made that motivates change for the future. This is where the difference is made. Guilty feelings will immobilize us and make us defensive. Conviction will motivate us and help us to make the necessary change.

Living Guilt Free

I have tried to live a guilt free life for many years. Now that I am a mother it is even more important to me to refuse to carry the heavy burden that guilt becomes. I am by no means a perfect mother. I’ve been doing this mothering task for less than two years. I have so much still to learn, and my children are very good teachers. Still I live guilt free. Why? Because I refuse to accept that false feeling of guilt. Instead I focus on keeping an open heart and mind in learning new things. I welcome conviction when I make mistakes. If I get it wrong I want to be able to change it rather than defend it.

Real Example

When I first started introducing solid foods to Aiden at almost six months I had done some learning and decided to start with fruits and vegetables rather than cereals. However like most mothers in our culture I started by serving these foods as mush and on a spoon. I was only a few weeks into this process when I started to learn about what is called Baby Led Weaning. It was so different to anything I had experienced before. After a few more weeks I felt convicted that this new way (to me) was the right way for our family. I liked the idea of Aiden learning to chew before learning to swallow. So I stopped spoon feeding mush. I started giving him food in pieces that he could hold in his tiny little hands, and choose for himself how much he ate. It has worked very well for us, and I plan to go straight to real solid foods with Seth and any other future children when the time comes to introduce solid food.

Instead of feeling guilt and defending my decision to spoon feed mush, I kept an open mind and with the motivation of conviction I made some changes. Now this is just an example from my own mothering journey and is not shared to force anyone else to make that same change. I write to help remove the guilt not to add to it.

No More War

The best thing about leaving guilt behind as a mother is that it puts an end to the “Mommy War” mentality in my life. I don’t have to defend any of the decisions I make. I don’t have to justify myself or make another mother feel bad about the decisions she makes.

There are so many issues that seem to fuel the war mentality. This is so sad. We are just trying to do what we think is best for our children. None of us set out to bring harm to our children. We all love our children. More importantly what is right for me, my children and my family is not necessarily right for every other mother and her family. You are the only real expert on your family, just as I am on mine. You know what works best for you, even when it is the opposite of what works for me.

Leaving Guilt Behind

So I for one am leaving guilt behind, in the dust, as I walk forward in my mothering adventure. May I encourage you to do the same. Refuse to let guilt control you. Be the mother only you can be to your blessings, and let us together bring an end to the hostility of the “mommy wars.”

Have a blessed and guilt free day.

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