She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

Mom On Trial Acquitted

on September 26, 2012

I am set free! FREE.

From “mother guilt,” and all the criticisms I constantly heap upon myself.  At least I found the key to the jail cell.

I am so done chastising myself and thinking that everything I do or don’t do for my kids will leave eternal marks on their souls.

Now I am NOT SAYING that I am throwing up my hands and singing, “Que Sera, Whatever Will Be.”  I’m just coming to terms with truth:  That I am not the only force at work in my child’s life.  I am not the only factor in how my child turns out as a teenager or grown-up.  I have known this, but I have not ACCEPTED this truth, deep down.

Author and psychologist John Rosemond has set me free.  He calls himself “a heretic, one of the few psychologists in the USA who thinks psychologists have done more harm than good to the rearing of children.”

He writes in Teen-Proofing how in the 1950’s “an epidemic of God Almighty Syndrome (GAS) swept through America’s parents.”

I did not realize till now that I have been suffering from GAS.  This syndrome is:

“characterized by the belief that everything your child does is a consequence of something you have done.  In effect, the parent afflicted with GAS believes he or she has God-like power in his or her child’s life.”

We mothers joke casually about savings funds for the therapy our children will most definitely need when they grow up.  Because WE screwed them up.  We are racked with guilt, obsessiveness, and worry.  We are constantly putting ourselves on trial.  Every time our kid misbehaves, acts defiant, or disobeys, we go into autopilot guilt mode.

The voice in my head screams ruthlessly at me:

  • You are a terrible mother.
  • You must be doing something SO WRONG if she wont listen to you THE FIRST TIME you ask her to…
  • If he talks to you like that, you must be modeling a bad mouth, it must be your fault.
  • You lost your cool again, so now your kids are going to grow up angry people with short fuses.
  • You better hope your prayers outweigh the damage you’ve done and the mistakes you’ve made.

It is quite sick that we (or maybe just me) do this to ourselves!  ENOUGH of this!

I need to break this agreement I’ve made that I am not a good mother.  I discount all the time, energy, and intention I put into mothering.  I discount the books I have digested and applied, and the parenting classes I have attended.  I easily forget all the genuine positive praise I dole out, the hugs, kisses, the one-on-one time, the love-tank-filling I have done.  I throw out ALL THE SOLID, loving parenting I’ve done in a blink, and so quickly allow the mommy guilt to come in like a vice to squeeze my heart.

How my children turn out is not all up to me. How Luke acts as a teenager is not all up to me.  Or to me and Chris.  We are not God.  We cannot control every factor in our children’s lives.  They have a personality, a temperament, a will, extra-family experiences, other adult influences, and peer influences.  Rosemond says that good parenting does not guarantee a good outcome.  I can do all the right things and things can still go wrong!

Certain things will go wrong.  And I don’t have to feel guilty about it, like I could ever attain perfection as a parent and prevent it.

“IF you think you can parent well enough to prevent a child from ever doing something outrageous, then I am moved to ask you, “Who do you think you are?”

If I can just breathe in these truths, I could be more joyful in my mothering.  Less preoccupied with worry.

And lets be honest, I will be less critical of other mothers and their kids.  Less judgmental and more compassionate about what other parents go through, especially in the teen years.

Mommy guilt be thou gone.

 

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8 responses to “Mom On Trial Acquitted

  1. Marisa says:

    Feeling liberated by your words since I am definitely in the teen years….using lots of deep breaths and trying to keep smiling through it all. We are in this together 🙂 thank GOD!!!

  2. Adrienne says:

    Friend! I love this! Thank you for this timely encouragement! I have been praying specifically that God would show me ways to love my kids that will bless them in spite of all my imperfections and shortcomings…but what you are saying is I need to give myself grace that I even have shortcomings 🙂 ‘Cuz I do!!

  3. Kelly Goldstein says:

    Amen Sister!

  4. cindy tudhope says:

    As a mom with a pre-teen son and a 20 year old daughter I can honestly say that it all works out. My daughter had a lot of spirt and enjoyed (really enjoyed )high school. She survived and so did I 🙂

    Now I can say I have an amazing daughter who I would not change one bit. A better understanding of what is really important. Love, trust, communication.

    Thanks for sharing Jessica.

  5. Ginger says:

    You have NO idea how I needed to read this right at this very moment. (Mom of a lost 23 yr old daughter who has been beating myself up constantly.) Thank you!

  6. Rory Hunter says:

    Actively releasing these stresses in our lives, like our parenting that we truly don’t have control of, in to God’s hands is my recommended practice. With trust and faith we really are set free. Without doing this we are unnecessarily shackled to our inadequacy and guilt.

    As always your words are a pleasure to read.

  7. Liz says:

    Well said Jess! I really do need to soak these words in… The constant pursuit of control robs us of enjoying the beautiful moments in front of us. As you said acting as if we are God rather than giving up our lives to him is our biggest mistake. Accepting ourselves and our imperfections is a lifelong journey isn’t it. I am grateful to you for bringing these topics to us… Thank you for your wonderful words and opening us all up to a more honest accepting and loving world… XOXO
    Liz

  8. Micah Rigler says:

    Great word Jessica! I really needed this right now in my parenting life. Keep in speaking your heart.

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