I’ve heard talk of the “Mommy Wars” for many years now. Moms all over the world make decisions about their kids, about anything and everything, and then either act superior to—or feel “less than”—the moms who decided differently. Did their child take a pacifier? How old is too old for a pacifier? Do they co-sleep, or does the baby sleep in a crib? Do they let their baby “cry it out” or answer to every whim? Do they use disposable diapers, or cloth? The decisions are endless when it comes to parenting.
At just 3 months pregnant with my first child, I have been so surprised to see these “Mommy Wars” kick up in my life already. And truth be told, it started right where I suspect it’s started for many other women. It started right in my own heart. Even before that positive pregnancy test, I had begun reading anything and everything about parenting. I read blog after blog on parenting styles that all claim to be “Christian.” I read dozens of articles on things like “grace-based parenting” or “parenting like Christ.” And the more I read, the more overwhelmed I became.
Will I be a “mean mommy” if I make my baby sleep in a crib? Or will I be a “weak” mother if I respond to my baby’s cries too quickly? Does a pacifier really say that I just want to “shut my baby up?” The Mommy Wars began to take root in my heart as I started to feel like every choice we made would incite disdain and dirty looks from other moms.
When we decided to go public with our pregnancy, this battle started to dive even deeper. For the most part, all of our friends and family have rejoiced with us, and—despite the morning sickness—it’s been a beautiful time of celebration. But still, godly moms everywhere began giving me “friendly advice.” They are wonderful women, and wonderful moms. I know I’m lucky to have so many ‘Titus 2″ women in my life that can mentor me as I enter this new world of motherhood. While they aren’t being pushy in their advice, I’ve found myself receiving conflicting advice from many women who are all seeking God’s guidance as they raise their children. My mind began to spiral out of control as I tried to mesh all of these things together.
As I became more and more overwhelmed, I knew I needed to make a change in the way I was trying to make these decisions. So I finally began to pray about it. As I sought the Lord, He began erasing this heart inside of me that had become consumed with the Mommy Wars, and He began reshaping a completely new heart. He began to lead me away from the questions of what I want to do with my kids, and toward an entirely new set of parenting choices. Suddenly I realized that things like diapers and bottles and cribs are outlined nowhere in God’s Word. Instead, God has given us directions for parenting that cut much deeper—straight into the heart. God has challenged me to seek His Scripture not just for parenting advice, but for the truth that shapes my very character—into one who has a mother’s heart. As a mother, woman, and follower of Christ, He reveals to me everything I need for both life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
- As a mother, I am to teach our children God’s Word. As a parent, it is my (and my husband’s) responsibility to consistently and diligently teach my children the things of God. As we go throughout our daily lives, we are to be talking about His Word. This is more than a daily quiet time, but a way of life. (Deut. 6:5-9)
- As a mother, I am to put my children ahead of myself. As I sought the Lord’s direction, He began to lead me toward Scripture that isn’t always directly applied to parenting. Philippians 2:3 calls me to “esteem others as better” than myself. There’s no disclaimer about counting other “adults” as better. There’s no exception for those I truly have authority over. This command includes all people, even my little children. Though I am technically in charge of them, I am still to treat them with respect and dignity. I am to put their needs ahead of my own.
- As a mother, I am to be an example of godly submission. My submission to and respect for my husband’s authority will model how we, as Christians, are to relate to Christ. As my children watch me submit to my husband, they will see a live teaching illustration for how to surrender to God’s authority. As one called to disciple her children, this is crucial for any mom! (Ephesians 5:32)
- As a mother, I am to have the Fruit of the Spirit in my life. If I am walking in a right relationship with God, then His fruit will overflow from my heart. I will love unconditionally. I will reflect joy and peace in all circumstances. I will be patient and kind with them rather than angry. God’s character will be reflected in mine, in a way that is a consistent witness and example for my children. (Gal 5:22-25)
- As a mother, I am to show grace. My children will fail. They were conceived in iniquity (Ps 51:5), and are born with hearts that deceive (Jer 17:9). They will sin intentionally, and they will make honest mistakes. As their mom, I am to help them learn from these things. I am never to punish them for the simple purpose of making them suffer for their sins. Instead, I am to meet them where they fail, and seek to build them back up. This will many times mean that I do punish them, but it also means that I will show them mercy. Just as God sometimes punishes His children, and sometimes convicts us from within, I am to parent my children with their edification in mind. Through prayer, I can handle their sin in the way that will best help them to grow. And with grace, I can display the power of the cross to forgive sin.
- As a mother, I am to apologize. Just as my children fail, I will too. When I act by my flesh rather than by the Spirit, I am to humble myself and repent. My children should see me as a woman who strives to honor God, but they should not think I am perfect. Even more importantly, I don’t want them to believe that I think I am perfect. As their example, I should go to them when I fail, confess my wrong-doing, and seek their forgiveness.
To many, these things may seem impossible. I, however, have found so much freedom in His truth! God has set before me all that I need as a mother, and all that my children need as well. He has shown me what is most important, and He even provides grace when I fail.
As I set aside the “Mommy Wars,” I realize that as I draw near to God, He will be my guide. As I focus on God’s truth, the world’s knowledge releases its grasp on my heart. I feel prepared—not in and of myself, but in the God who is Creator of all things. I am set free from the things of this world, and am now fully equipped to be a mom.