In Part 1 of the Mommy Guilt series, we tackled ungodly Mommy Guilt - the negative thoughts that the devil uses in an attempt to undermine our God-given parenting abilities. But as I mentioned in that first post, there are actually two different kinds of Mommy Guilt.
And today, I want to confront the second kind of Mommy Guilt - the God-given kind.
Yes, there is such a thing as Godly Mommy Guilt! This type of Mommy Guilt is the inner twang of conviction that the Holy Spirit gives when we're not being Godly parents. Do you ever feel a pang of guilt about not spending enough time with your little ones? Are you ever convicted about the way you reacted to your child's disobedience? Are you ever frustrated that you lost your temper (again!) with your kiddos?
All of this is Godly Mommy Guilt, and the worst thing we could do with it is ignore it! We definitely want to put off ungodly Mommy Guilt and put on Christ (see Part 1). But we want to heed Godly Mommy Guilt by taking action on the things the Holy Spirit is correcting us about.
For me, my biggest Godly Mommy Guilt incidents are losing my temper and not giving my kids my full attention when they need me. Since patience is part of the Fruit of the Spirit, as a Christian, I need to be cultivating longsuffering with my spark plugs. And it's NOT easy. But just because it doesn't come naturally to me doesn't mean I can skip this important skill!
I also struggle with tearing myself away from my computer, my book, or my mental planning in order to give my kids my full attention. Again, this isn't something that's easy for me to correct. But by setting aside whatever else my mind is concentrating on and looking into my kids' eyes, I'm showing them that they are important to me. I'm validating their interests and curiosities. I'm building them up in a healthy and Godly way.
Just as with ungodly Mommy Guilt, there are three steps we need to take for dealing with Godly Mommy Guilt:
- Acknowledge the Holy Spirit's conviction
- Put off your poor habits and choices
- Put on Godly actions instead
Acknowledge the Holy Spirit's conviction
What are your areas of Godly Mommy Guilt? What is the Lord convicting you of that you need to change? Let's get practical. Grab a pen and paper and write down the area(s) God is asking you to change. It could be anything, from spending more time with your little ones to Biblically correcting them, from offering more hugs and kisses to purposefully teaching them the truths from God's Word. Whatever it is, put it on paper.
Put off your poor habits and choices
I have a bad habit of giving my kids' my divided attention. This definitely needs to stop! And writing down my conviction will go a long way toward reminding myself to disengage from whatever's vying for my attention and to fully focus on my littles instead.
It doesn't matter what it is the Lord is convicting you about. You need to stop doing what dishonors Him and start doing what pleases Him. This is true of all sin, so it definitely applies to Mommy Guilt, too!
Commit to stop doing the thing(s) the Lord is using Godly Mommy Guilt to convict you of. Ask God to help you keep this commitment. Tell your husband of your new goal and ask him to keep you accountable. Do whatever is necessary to set aside this sin.
Put on Godly actions instead
As with anything else in our Christian walk, it's not enough to simply put off our old self. We also need to put on Christ likeness. If you're feeling Godly guilt about the way you parent, put off the offending issue and put on whatever it is that the Lord is leading you to start doing.
For me, I need to put off my frustration and anger and put on a calm and gentle spirit. I need to put off the desire to be lost in my own mental world and put on genuine focus when my kids are around.
Since you already have your pen and paper out, why not write down the actions you need to put on as you put off your old sin nature? The more we can write things out, commit them to memory, and seek accountability, the more we'll be able to follow through on these good desires to grow in our parenting.
We will never be perfect parents; we will always need to be alert to both ungodly and Godly Mommy Guilt as we grow and mature in our roles as mothers. By acknowledging the leading of the Holy Spirit, putting off our poor parenting habits, and putting on God-honoring actions instead, we can make strides in our Biblical parenting measures.
Note: This Mommy Guilt mini series would be woefully lacking if we didn't address another related topic: trusting God when we aren't physically able to fully parent our children. So many mamas today are struggling with physical and mental health disorders that inhibit their ability to parent well, and my friend Ruth from Fruitful Today is willing to share with us how she overcomes her own Mommy Guilt as she wrestles with autoimmune issues. Look for this follow-up post in the coming weeks!