Are you struggling with mom guilt because you don’t feel like you do enough with and for your kids? Here’s how to deal with mom guilt in a godly way.
I’ll never forget the day my firstborn started crawling.
I picked him up from the babysitter after work and took him home. He had been close to the milestone for a few days, and suddenly it just clicked. My husband and I were full of new parent glee as he proudly paraded around the living room on his hands and knees.
The next day I gave the sitter a heads-up about his new mobility. “Oh, he was doing that all day yesterday,” she replied. “I thought you knew!”
I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. I had missed it. Because I had to work.
Talk about mom guilt.
In the ten years that have passed since then, I’ve shared many special moments with my kids. I’ve also missed a lot, even though I now have the flexibility to work part-time from home.
It doesn’t matter what your situation is. I don’t know any mom who hasn’t felt like she let down her kids at some point. (Or many!)
So what do we do about mom guilt—just accept it for what it is? No way. That’s not the mindset God wants us to live in.
Here’s how to approach feelings of mom guilt from a godly perspective.
3 Godly Steps to Beat Mom Guilt
1. Find Your Worth in God, Not Your Parenting
Whenever I’m feeling like a failure — i.e. guilty — it’s usually because I have some skewed expectation. And when it comes to my performance as a mom, it can feel like I’m not doing enough.
Have you ever had these kinds of thoughts?
- I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids.
- I don’t feed them good enough food.
- I don’t discipline or train them the “right way.”
- I don’t provide enough education.
- I don’t pray enough or do family devotionals with them.
- I’m not fun enough.
- I don’t throw good birthday parties.
- I don’t limit their screen time enough.
- We don’t do as many fun things as that other family.
While there will always be areas you can improve in as a parent, the problem with statements like these is that they’re measuring you against some kind of vaguely defined, impossible standard.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Rather than measuring yourself against your friends or some parenting article that you found through Pinterest, anchor your worth in something valid: God’s Word.
Since guilt is something I’ve wrestled with, I compiled a list of go-to verses that have helped me: 11 Bible Verses to Banish Mommy Guilt.
2. Recognize Your Human Limits
A lot of moms feel like they have to be superheroes. In addition to the difficult responsibility of raising a human or three, we like to add 80 other things to our plates, to be completed immediately.
And then we feel guilty when we don’t accomplish our goals.
I have to remind myself constantly that I have limits, and that I need to humbly accept them. One passage that helps me is Philippians 2:6–7, which is talking about Jesus: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
In other words, even though he had all the power of God, he set it aside and embraced the limitations of his humanity. Jesus needed to sleep, eat and spend time by himself. He had to work through his emotions. He didn’t heal everybody. He wasn’t everywhere at once.
If Jesus embraced human limitations, why do we feel like we need to overcome them?
When you recognize your limits as a parent, you leave room for God to work in your kids’ lives. Maybe you’ll let them down. But in the end, that will help them see that you’re not God. And hopefully, that will help them turn to him.
3. Adjust Your Priorities and Schedule
Once you’ve found your worth in Christ and accepted your human limitations rather than beating yourself up with guilt, you’re in a better place to make some adjustments as a parent.
If you feel like you’re too busy to get the time you want to spend with your kids or enrich their lives, it may be a sign that you need to reassess your priorities and how you spend your time. A couple of strategies have been helpful in my own life.
First, I am very intentional about my time management. I spend time annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily setting goals, going over my schedule and making sure that I’ve got my priorities straight. I make time for God, and I make time for family. This isn’t difficult to do; you just have to find a system that works for you.
Second, my husband and I work hard to practice core family habits that cultivate close relationships. These habits include eating meals together, one-on-one time, reading together, family devotionals and cheering each other on at extracurriculars.
Just remember that these are tools that can help you and your family, but they’re not to be used to measure your worth or set up impossible expectations. (See steps 1 and 2 above!)
What makes you struggle with mom guilt? How can these steps help you?