If you walk into a bookstore, take a whirl around the Internet, or head to weekly Bible study, you will discover very quickly that parenting advice abounds. We are led to believe that if we follow these steps, teach our children those lessons, or make sure to block out this list of influences, we can be sure to raise great, godly children. But, if we take one wrong step, we’re doomed!
In our effort to follow each and every good bit of advice, we find ourselves burdened with the inevitable mommy guilt every time we feel that we have failed. Will we scar our children for life? Will they make horrible choices because we failed to spend the right balance of time in work and play or skipped reading to them two days in a row?
Reality shows us a very different truth, but unfortunately it is not any more comforting. We can do every single thing wrong and still end up with children who hunger after Christ. On the other hand, we can do everything right only to watch them make choices that grieve us to the very core of our being. There is just no guarantee.
We might not have guarantees, but we do have hope grounded in a command found in Philippians 2:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil. 2:5-8
When we approach parenting in a manner that imitates Christ, we choose to arise each and every day in full surrender to His leadership. We seek Him as we read His Word, meditate upon it, and flow in prayerful communion with Christ based on what we have read. We seek Him as we lift our children and our needs up to Him. Then, we tackle life, making the best choices we can make in each situation. At the end of the day, we rest in the realization that we have fulfilled our one responsibility: we have made decisions based on what we know right here and right now. We have obeyed Christ to the best of our understanding, and we have trusted Him with the results.
My responsibility as a mom is not to raise perfect children. Instead, my responsibility is to set boundaries that allow me to show them what it means to obey Christ. When I stray from that responsibility and try to create children who make perfect choices, I actually end up making a mess of the situation. Boundaries fall, and I get in the way of God dealing directly with my children, guiding them in His perfect way.
Fellow moms, there is nothing more glorious than letting go of mommy guilt and realizing that we are not responsible for the choices of our children. We are only responsible for our own actions and our own responses. As we choose to allow those actions and responses to be shaped according to the attitude of Christ Himself, He will take full responsibility for the actions and choices of our children.
Will we let go of our mommy guilt and take hold of the trust, rest, and surrender that comes when we submit our choices to the will of our Savior?