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What to Do When Being a Good Mom Doesn’t Seem Good Enough

What to Do When Being a Good Mom Doesn’t Seem Good Enough
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Nobody intentionally sets out to fail as a parent. No one plans on raising an axe murderer. I’ve never met a mom who lies in bed at night envisioning how to mess up her kids.

I have, however, met many parents who can’t sleep at night because they worry—a lot—about the fruit of their loins.

Where did I go wrong?

How could my son make such a terrible choice?

What’s up with my daughter? Seriously, what does she see in that guy?

I raised him “in the Lord,” and today he doesn’t want anything to do with God or church.

The struggle is real.

The doubts are crippling.

The personal agony is devastating.

My mom experienced distress and misery on my behalf. Once upon a time, I was a prodigal son. I walked away from God, the Church, my family, and my faith. It wasn’t pretty. I broke a lot of hearts, including my mom’s. Gratefully, she never gave up on me even though no one would have blamed her if she had.

Motherhood is one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

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So what can a mother do when she has a wild, out-of-control child?

First, remember that you are responsible for how you raise your children, but not always to blame for the way your kid turns out. You have great influence and a great duty. Ultimately, however, you are not responsible for the choices of your teen or adult child.

Do your best to pass the torch of faith and to raise your child in the training and instruction of the Lord. But if your child wanders, don’t assume you are a terrible parent.

Every son or daughter is born with a sin nature. Every child has a propensity for self-centered and sinful behavior. We all are prone to wander because of that frustrating thing called “free will.”

You can do everything right, and your child can still go terribly wrong.

That being said, some moms have good reason to feel responsible. Perhaps they consistently were a poor role model or demonstrated uncontrolled anger. Maybe mom was hyper-controlling or the opposite—completely absent as a parent. Obviously, a lousy mother has a negative impact on her offspring.

So what should you do if you feel like you’ve failed miserably as a parent?

Own it if you’ve blown it, but don’t get stuck under a cloud of shame. Failure as a parent does not disqualify you as a mom, but refusal to own your failure and to repent only makes matters worse.

Ask God to forgive you. Ask your children to forgive you. Confess your sin and then move forward. By the way, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect mom or a perfect family! Don’t deny your failings, but don’t live with unrealistic expectations either.

One of the great lessons you can always teach your children through personal example is the value of humble confession and a contrite heart. You fail. They fail. We all fail. But failure doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

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One final thing . . .

Building or repairing and maintaining a relational bridge to your wandering child is paramount. As I have written many times before, it doesn’t matter how right you are if you’re not relational. Above all, do everything you can to live at peace with your child.

If you have a son or daughter who is far from God and maybe even far from you, don’t:

  • attempt to shame your child into change.

  • attempt to control or force good choices on your child.

  • attempt to argue your child into better behavior.

It won’t work. Trust me; I was that child, so I know.

The best thing you can do is to pray your guts out and stay the course as you model love and godliness in the following ways:

  • Practice a lifestyle of mercy and forgiveness. When your child hurts you and strikes out at you in bitterness and vileness, forgive as you are forgiven. In fact, forgive in advance of the offense.

  • Decide to speak well of your children and to bless them with your words of affirmation. Even the most messed up person in the world still is made in the image of God and is always of great value to Him. Treat your children as if they are special even when they don’t act like it. When they lash out at you, return a blessing instead of a reaction and pray for them even more.

Raising kids in a godly home does not guarantee godly children, so do the best you can, and stop beating yourself up. Focus more—a lot more—on being a godly and caring mom that your children are drawn to because of your example and undying love.

Most of all, never give up on the prodigals. They need you and your prayers more than they know.

May I pray for you?

Father, I know you are close to the brokenhearted. I know you hear the cry of every mom. And I know you love every child beyond measure. Please wrap Your arms around each mom and each of their children today in a way that will bring both comfort and change. In the name of Your Son, Amen.

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18 Responses to What to Do When Being a Good Mom Doesn’t Seem Good Enough

  1. I needed that. We have a 46 year old protocol son who was raised in a Christian home.God recently told me”He is in my hand”.I do have comfort in that. Thanks Kurt

  2. Love this, Kurt. I had the privilege of teaching a weekend parenting workshop at my church last month, and right out the gate I emphasized the same thing you said … it’s ultimately between the child and God as far as their faith goes. It’s good news that we have a huge influence, though, and that the attitude of forgiveness you mentioned makes all the difference in quality of relationship!

  3. I love my prodigal so much. More and more I realize it’s God’s way of teaching me that he is more God’s child than mine. I used to hold my title of “Mom” in a bit of a prideful way so thought I had more to do with how my kids turn out than I actually do. God has made me humble & given me compassion for others in similar situations. I am giving it my best (failings included) but they are each such individuals who have a need for God whether they see it or not yet. Thanks for this post, I read it tearfully, but am so encouraged to hear that you were running from God at a time in your life too & now serve Him. Bless your precious mama!

  4. My son, the prodigal, has yet to come home. I will continue to pray for him and love him unconditionally.
    Thanks for these wise words of encouragement, Kurt. This mom really needed to hear them today.
    Blessings!

  5. Great encouragement. This “mom-stuff” is complicated messiness riddled with landmines. Sometimes I’m not sure where to step. I got the diaper-thingy down pat. It’s the parenting adults with kids of their own that is the truly HARD part of being a mother (or father). And no one tells ya that until, bam, you’ve hit one of those landmines. 🙂

How to Survive Homeschooling – a Guest Post by Brooke and Nathan Bubna

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{I’m very proud of all my kids and admire their dedication to their children. Both Jess and Nate and Brooke and Nathan homeschool. Since I’m in Africa this week, I asked my oldest son and his wife to write this post. This blog is full of some great and helpful advice. Enjoy!}Homeschool 2Homeschooling is wonderful. It is a great way to spend more time bonding with and enjoying your children. The extremely low student-teacher ratio of your home is delightfully efficient, giving your kids more time to be kids instead of just students stuck at a desk. It adds a lot of flexibility to family life, letting you avoid weekend crowds at the local zoo, museums, or water parks.

Homeschooling, however, is also very challenging. You know how easy and fun it is to get your kids to put down their toys to do chores? Well, homeschool adds more of that but with higher stakes. After all, who worries about their child’s laundry habits as much as their academic success?

When you take on full responsibility for their education, it can add new dimensions of stress to your nagging. And, of course, there’s the added difficulty of trying to do school in the place where your children feel freest and keep all of their favorite distractions.

Finally, for those who are outnumbered by their children, you have challenges like reading to the kindergartener, being interrupted by the 4th-grader with a question about their math worksheet, while the preschooler is singing loudly in the other room and the baby just woke up early from her nap. Oh, and if you don’t start making lunch soon, everyone will be hungry and someone will surely have a meltdown. Probably you.

So here are some things we’ve learned that help us survive:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

There’s no rule that says you have to do it on your own. If things are not working, you don’t need to just tough it out and hope it gets better. Take steps to address the tough spots. Ask yourself what the problem is and what would make it easier.

With a new baby and kids in all different stages of education, we realized a little help would go a long way. We ended up hiring an older homeschool student to come once a week for an hour to work with our oldest daughter, while the boys do their quiet time. It doesn’t sound like much, but it really has been a huge relief.

The blessing of grandparents, if you have them in town, is also never to be underestimated! And failing all that, schedule playdates to occupy a kid or two while you focus on a different one.

2) Organization is worth the work.

Brooke, who does the vast majority of the homeschooling, will admit she is not an organized person by nature, however much she adores that ability. Homeschooling has been an education for her in this area with both talented friends and books as her teachers.

One particularly helpful book, year after year, is Managers of Their Home. It teaches you how to budget your day, so that you spend it well. It is labor intensive so you may find it better suited for a summer project.

If books aren’t your thing, the simple advice is to at least create a daily checklist for yourself and your kids that reflects your yearly goals for their development. This is ten minutes well-spent. Once your kids are readers, they can check off their own list as they work through it.

3) Community is priceless.

Don’t do all your homeschooling at home. Go out with your kids and find other families to make this journey with! Anything from art classes at the community center to full-blown homeschool co-ops will bring joy and friendship to you and your children. It can both give you refreshing breaks from the home routine even as it helps you to establish a weekly rhythm so that the days don’t all blur together. But the friendships you build out there are the chief reward. Cherish them!

4) It’s okay to relax.

Flexibility is not only one of the key perks of homeschooling. It’s also essential to surviving it. No matter what curriculum you use, each of your kids is different, and each passing year brings different rhythms and challenges to your family.

The efficiency and flexibility of educating your kids at home means it is okay to skip a day here and there or even for a few weeks. For our family, last year was highly disruptive, and there were stretches of weeks where schoolwork was largely ignored. As homeschoolers, we can take that in stride. There is ample time to play catch-up.

Don’t feel like a failure on those days when the only one who worked on your chalkboard checklist was the toddler with the crayons. Bad days are par for the course. And so are snow days and “teacher in-service” days where you stay in your pajamas and the kids spread toys around the house.

The schedule itself is neither the goal nor the measure of success. It is there to serve you, not the other way around.

Sure, it’s not for everyone, but homeschooling can be a great blessing to you and your kids. If it sometimes feels like it’d be easier to just hide in bed all day, ask for help, take a day to organize, do it with friends, and relax. You’re doing fine.

Homeschool 1

 

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The Problem with Relational “Junk Drawers” (and What to Do with Those People Who Baffle or Bother You!)

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Junk Drawers TitleJunk drawers. We all have them. Maybe yours is in a desk or somewhere in the garage or kitchen. Junk drawers are fairly common.

Let me tell you why I’m writing about those hidden places filled with odds and ends, lest you think I’m about to rant about something inconsequential.

I’m using your physical junk drawer as a representation of a relational junk drawer you probably have in your life.

The relational one is the place where we put the people who baffle, annoy, irritate, or scare us. It’s that place in your heart where you stow people you can’t get out of your life, but whom you’d rather not deal with at the moment—or ever.

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Why do we have physical junk drawers?

  • It’s the spot where we put something when we don’t know where else to put it.

  • It’s the spot where we hide stuff because we like to appear neat and orderly on the outside.

  • It’s the spot where we leave items because it’s easier to throw something in a drawer than it is to put it in its proper place. In other words, we’re a bit lazy at times.

Why do we have relational junk drawers?

  • It’s the dark place in our hearts where we stuff people when we don’t know how to deal with their quirks or shortcomings.

  • It’s the scary place in our soul where we hide our true feelings out of fear of rejection or conflict.

  • It’s the procrastinating and dishonest place in our minds where we tell ourselves, “I’ll deal with him or her tomorrow.”

Here are the problems with relational junk drawers:

  • People are not junk. They are valuable beings created in the image of God. All people. Regardless of how difficult a relationship is, you must keep at it because people matter and relationships matter.

  • When it comes to people, out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind. Stuffing is never the path to relational success. (Have you noticed that people tend to crawl out of the “drawers” we stuff them into?) Ignoring a problem or not being honest with a person doesn’t solve anything. Like your momma told you when you were eight, “Honesty is always the best policy.” We need to be straightforward with people and honest with ourselves.

  • You shouldn’t be lazy in your relationships. It might be easier to ignore a person who bothers or scares you, but that’s not the path to personal or relational health. Relationships are work. Hard work.

So who came to mind a minute ago as you read this blog?

Who in your life, despite your best efforts to run from them, is impossible to avoid?

Who makes your skin crawl and your blood pressure rise whenever they call?

Maybe it’s time to face the junk in your heart and the stuff hidden and unspoken in your relationship with that person.

Living with fear or tension or undercurrents of strife isn’t good for you or anybody else.

Go ahead and make some time to open the drawer and face the person you’ve been avoiding. Stop hiding or running from that relationship. Don’t put off until tomorrow what is best dealt with today. Embrace its challenges and grow.

It might be difficult. It might get ugly. But whether it ends well or not, it’s the right thing to do, and in your gut you know it.

Open rebuke is better
    than hidden love.

Proverbs 27:5 (VOICE)

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12 Responses to The Problem with Relational “Junk Drawers” (and What to Do with Those People Who Baffle or Bother You!)

  1. Bam! Hit me on the head, because it is true. We can easily put someone in a “junk” drawer because it is better than deal with them again and again and again. Good Words Kurt.

    • Hi,
      Unfortunately, sometimes it is the people closest to us (like parents, spouse, or another family member). I would encourage you to seek professional help from a counselor and/or to get some advice from a pastor. Honesty, is always the best policy, but how to navigate those tough relationships often takes support from others. Praying for you…

  2. Over the years, I have found that when people baffle, bug or bore me, it is usually something that requires acknowledgement, repentance, or a change of attitude in me, myself and I FIRST, before I do more damage with unsolicited open rebuke. I can’t fix myself – least of all the other person. Best to pray for them and allow the Holy Spirit to work on me and them! We’re all a work in progress. Great post!

Why RUDE and CRUDE are not the new COOL! (And three ways to change the way you talk.)

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Words Matter Girl

Words matter.

Of course, so do thoughts and actions, but what’s in our hearts always makes its way to our mouths. You can tell a lot about a person’s character by simply listening to his or her words.

Jerks typically are those calling other people jerks.

Arrogant people sound cocky.

Broken and weak words reveal an insecure soul.

Our words are like the weather. You don’t need an app; just look outside. When it comes to communication, you still don’t need an app; just listen.

Words 8

I write about relationships. Obviously, words are paramount in all our interactions with other humans. Our words build either a bridge or a barrier to the people around us. What we say to and about others is what they use to determine if we are honest, trustworthy, and kind–or not.

I’m concerned about the way I hear people talking to each other—in families, in friendships, and even in politics. I hear harshness in the mall and in the church lobby. I can’t believe the vileness and sarcasm on primetime television. Turn on talk radio and you’ll find that the airwaves are flooded with bad-mannered, uncouth, and offensive rhetoric.

It seems that “saying it like it is” and being politically incorrect are now excuses for ignoring common decency.

Words 2

Whenever someone calls a family member “stupid,” they demonstrate a mean spirit that can destroy people. When a friend says to a friend, “You’re an a-hole!” it doesn’t build anyone up. (I know that word is offensive, and yet it’s become far too common.) When people blast others on social media, does that truly bring anything good into the situation? And when a politician calls another candidate ugly or crude names, they look childish, not presidential.

Words matter. Rude and crude are not the new cool. Discourteous vulgarity never has been okay, and it never should be.

Okay, that’s the problem. What’s the solution?

  • Humble your heart and speak helpful words. It’s time to acknowledge our short-comings and to get off our high horse. When we own the fact that we are far from perfect, it will change our attitude and profoundly affect our communication with others.

Words 3

  • Saturate your mind with positive thoughts. It’s easy to be critical. It’s not difficult to be harsh and mean when we focus on the negative. So don’t watch or listen to the talk shows that negatively blast everybody. Turn off the sitcoms that make light of crude and sarcastic behavior. Gently challenge (from a place of humility) your friends and family to say only what is helpful for building others up. You don’t ignore evil, but you choose to fix your heart and mind on whatever is noble, lovely, and praiseworthy. We become what we behold; let’s be sure to behold the beauty all around us.

Words 4

  • Ask a friend to help you unlearn old habits. A lot of us underestimate the value of accountability. Our society has elevated an independent mentality rather than the interdependent life we are called to in Christ. We need each other. We need others in our lives who will kindly correct us when we get mean or run amuck with a negative mouth.

Words 5

Never before in the history of civilization have we had a greater ability to spread either ugliness or beauty with our words. Social media have opened up a powerful opportunity to make a godly and positive difference.

Let’s not add to the crude, rude, and bombastic rhetoric so prevalent in our culture. Instead, let’s bring light into the dark and good news to a world desperate for hope.

Words 6

“A good man brings good things

out of the good stored up in his heart,

and an evil man brings evil things

out of the evil stored up in his heart.

For the mouth speaks what

the heart is full of.”

Luke 6:45 (NIV)

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15 Responses to Why RUDE and CRUDE are not the new COOL! (And three ways to change the way you talk.)

  1. THIS is what I have been searching for to bring up and talk about with my 3 teens!!!! THANK YOU!! hopefully in some small way THIS will get thru to them…

    • Glad it’s helpful, Kelly. I would suggest you start with your teens by asking, “How do you feel when someone calls you a name or says something critical/negative about you?” Get them feeling/relating to the struggle before you get them information. Just a thought….

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