Dealing With Mom Guilt (and how to get rid of it once and for all)
I don’t know how you define yourself as a mom. You might call yourself a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, a work-from-home mom, a “grand”mom, a foster mom, a new mom, a good mom, a bad mom, or any combination of these and more.
One thing I do know is if you care about your babies, and take your role as a mother seriously, then you have probably struggled with mom guilt.
As moms, we have enough to do. We don’t need a cloud of guilt hanging over us keeping us from living the abundant life that Jesus promised us. So, what do we do with this mom guilt and how do we overcome it?!
Start With The Best Person to Attack Mom Guilt
Let’s just start with words directly from Jesus and begin with prayer.
Matthew 6:10-12 reminds us that we can ask God for, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Every morning we can follow the steps beautifully laid out for us in the Lord’s Prayer.
- Ask God for His will to be done.
- Ask the Lord for his daily bread. (As someone who loves carbs, this is my favorite!)
- Ask the Lord for forgiveness and also the ability to forgive. Forgive yourself for falling short of your expectations, and forgive those around you for what they’ve done to you.
Using those 3 steps, it can be as simple as starting your day with, “God, let this day be filled with You, and let Your will reign. Help me to see Your daily provision, and walk in thankfulness for it. Forgive me for where I fall short, and help me to forgive those who have hurt me. I give it all to You. Amen.”
Kicking off the day in prayer is a great start, but how about some practical tips about kicking guilt to the curb?
“Give it to God”… But how?
I’m sure someone in your life has given you wonderful encouragement like, “Just give it to God, and it will all be fine.”
I heartily agree with the sentiment here, but I’m not quite sure it is this easy. I would like to dive a little deeper into what it looks like to “Give it to God,“ and spend some time defining what it means for “everything to be fine.”
First things first. Let’s define where our guilt is coming from.
- Are we holding ourselves to a standard of perfection, or trying to maintain control of everything?
- Is our struggle coming from low self-esteem?
- Do we feel not good enough no matter what we do?
- How about fear of the future?
- Is it dealing with the realities of this current day and age that is really hard to reconcile?
- Or is it that we can’t seem to make things just right for our kids (or ourselves)?
For me, I think back to when I had just become a mama to 2 toddler boys. As much as I was loving all the amazing things about being a mom, I was really struggling with my guilt.
I didn’t birth them, but I knew right away that I was meant to be their mom. However, when you become a mom to toddlers, there are so many things that you don’t know about them.
You have to do the best you can with what you’ve been given, and I was really struggling with that. I spent so much time feeling like I wasn’t enough for them.
I even struggled feeling guilty because I knew I was always meant to be their mom, but somehow I thought I should have been able to rescue them from and fix the things they went through before they came to me.
Guilt doesn’t have to be rational. However, to break free from it, it does need to be defined.
I realized this very quickly, and through the help of the word of God, prayer, and a great counselor, I realized I was trying to control the future by trying to “fix” the past. There was nothing I could have done before laying eyes on these incredibly handsome, squirmy, busy, trusting, emotional little boys. I was reminded that I was just being a “good” mom.
Good moms want to make all of the “bad” go away.
Being reminded that it’s normal to want to make everything better for your babies made me realize that I didn’t have to change the past (because I couldn’t). It was also permission to grab their chubby little hands and bravely walk forward believing that freedom, love, truth, and peace through Jesus will not make things perfect, but will guide us in all that we do.
So much of my “mom guilt” came from wanting perfection and control. When I defined where it came from, it was easier to spot and easier to shut down.
There were days when I would lose my temper with my toddler, I would spend the rest of my night feeling guilty that I was always messing up and probably had just ruined him for life.
It wasn’t until I gave up looking for perfection and just started focusing on cultivating a relationship with my little one, and with my Savior, that I really was able to shake off that mom guilt.
It still comes around every once in awhile, because the enemy doesn’t really like when us moms are secure in who God is creating us to be.
When we don’t let our mistakes define us, and we trust God’s grace to be bigger than our failures, then God is glorified, and glorifying Him is truly the best place to start.
When we hold on to guilt, then we parent out of:
-fear of the future
-just the realities of everyday life, etc.
None of those options bring us closer to letting go of the guilt. We started with defining where it is coming from, but in order to get out of the guilt cycle, we need to set our goals . Write them down.
The Motherhood Manifesto
We know that without a vision people perish (Proverbs 29:18). In any good business or place of employment, there is always an end goal. We can shoot for something more than just good naps, and surviving until bedtime, although we have lots of grace for ourselves for those days too, right?
We have made our family mission statements, can we make ourselves a Motherhood mission statement? Or a motherhood declaration? Ooh, we can make it really powerful and call it our Motherhood Manifesto! Whatever we call it, we need to believe it!
Mine looks like this:
“As a mom, my kids’ successes and failures don’t define me. God gave me these crazy/amazing people to love, to cherish, to nurture, to care for, and to teach about Jesus. My goal is to do this to the best of my ability. I refuse to judge myself by my imperfections, failures and short-comings. I will celebrate life, growth, and little victories daily.”
Staying focused on that Mom Manifesto will help us to stay on track. Dealing with mom guilt looks like preparing for reality.
Perfection isn’t attainable, so we have to be ready when mom guilt rears its ugly head.
We don’t have to lower our standards, we just need to communicate them better. Being intentional is so important here.
- Start asking God to let Him see you the way He does, and then actually look for Him to answer. He never once asks us to have it all together. In fact, we’re called (in Proverbs 3:5-6) to acknowledge Him in all of our ways and He will direct our paths.
- Have grace for yourself. Remember His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:23) If God, in all of His righteousness, can give us grace every morning, then we can definitely give it to ourselves.
- Go to Jesus as often as you can. That is where the grace, forgiveness, peace, and freedom from guilt lies. He took it all. Do yourself a favor, and don’t take it back.
>>>Don’t Miss Resting in God’s Grace: a Quick Guide for Moms
Final Thoughts on Dealing with Mom Guilt
So, when the next person encourages you, “to just give it to God, and everything will be fine,” remember that the way we define, “fine,” is the fact that God is in control.
It will all work out because Romans 8:28 reminds us that all things work together for the good.
We don’t have to hold on to guilt because we have a Savior that carries our burdens. Let Him.
I want to leave you with a few verses to focus on when struggling to overcome guilt, and I pray that you will see yourself set free!
I Peter 5:7, “Cast your burdens on Jesus for He cares for you.”
Lamentations 3:22-24, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ’The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”
Psalm 68:19, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”