10 Ways to Free Yourself from the Mom-Guilt Trap ~ By Rhonda Stoppe
Mom Guilt: It’s ten o’clock and I’m not even through with the dinner dishes, Laura thought to herself. With the kids finally tucked in bed and her husband heading toward the bedroom, she once again found herself wrestling with feeling guilty over choosing to have the kitchen cleaned up over going to bed with her husband.
How do other moms do it? she asked herself.“Why am I the only one who can’t seem to get a handle on everything that’s on my plate?”
Can you relate to Laura’s plight? You’re not alone. I speak at women’s events all over the country and mom guilt is by far the most common struggle among women raising families.
So, what’s a mom to do? How can you escape the mom guilt trap? I’m glad you asked. Let’s look at 10 practical ways to break yourself free. (These steps worked for me and they can work for you too.)
1. Break Free from People Pleasing
One Sunday after church when my firstborn child was skipping through the sanctuary, I hastily hushed her. An older friend asked, “Why don’t you want her to do that? Do you feel it is morally wrong?”
As the friend pressed me for an answer I finally admitted, “Because I don’t want people to think I’m a bad mom!” In her wisdom, the friend taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned from an older Titus 2 woman. She said:
Never raise your kids for what people think of you.
Growing up a middle child, people pleasing has always been my default, so I get the temptation to do so. But whenever moms raise their children for the approval of others we are not raising them for the glory of God. In a sense that makes us glory stealers. Ouch––right?
*Listen here: People Pleasing isn’t Pleasing
2. Stop Comparing yourself to others
Observing how other moms seem to have a handle on parenting can certainly promote guilt. While looking on the internet at post after post of mothers who have it all together, it’s easy to forget that they are only showing you what they want you to see.
Every mom struggles with sleepless nights, short tempers, anxiety over discipline issues, and not keeping a pinterest-perfect-house. Don’t be fooled by the glimpses you get of other’s lives. They’re only letting you see what they want you to see.
Regarding social media, in a recent article Amy Green said, “It’s like an ever-changing slideshow of what others have that you don’t, and it can leave you feeling left out and lonely.”
3. Let Go of Control
One section in my book Moms Raising Sons to Be Men is entitled, “Control Freaks Raise Freaks.” In over 18 years along side my husband in youth ministry, I learned one of the most destructive things we can do as a mom is to think controlling our kids will somehow:
- Keep them safe
- Help them avoid making wrong choices
- Cause them to live without regrets
The truth is only God is in control. And He is the one who promises to cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Learning as the priority of life to pursue loving God with all of your being (see Mark 12) will set you free from needing to work out every detail of your kids life, because you can rest in His promise to providentially work good through the circumstances He allows in your life––and your child’s.
4. Make Friends with Real Moms
In this culture of social media, it’s easy to make friends with people over the internet. And if you have unruly kids it takes away the need to teach them self-control when you are out visiting a friend.
But making friends with a couple of moms who are real and genuine will be your lifeline and your freedom from mom guilt.
As you hear other moms ask for prayer, encouragement and simply laugh at the crazy experiences of motherhood, you’ll be reminded you’re not the only one who struggles. And laughter is certainly a great encouragement to moms in the trenches, so look for friends––and be a friend––who embraces wholehearted laughter at the antics of your little ones.
5. Find a Godly Mentor
As a young mom I knew I wasn’t the mother I meant to be. I had imagined I’d be patient, kind, and thoroughly enjoy the role of motherhood. It wasn’t long before the sleepless nights, thankless days, and overwhelming loneliness sent me looking for help.
The Bible calls the older women to teach the younger how to love their husbands and their children so I went looking for moms of kids in our youth group––moms I wanted to emulate. And do you know what I found? Real women who were happy to teach me from their successes and failures what they learned as moms.
Look for mentors who have walked this path ahead of you. I’m confident this one act transformed my parenting completely.
6. Develop the Mind of Christ
Philippians 2:5 promises to those who are His that we can have the mind of Christ. You feel guilty when you do not respond like Jesus example of selflessness, but pulling yourself up by your bootstraps to try harder is not the answer. Rather humbly ask God daily to give you the mind of Christ is.
Tell God you’re willing to be selfless, but without the help and conviction of His Spirit you are unable to do so. Being willing to change is the first step toward change.
7. Ask God for Wisdom
James 1:5 promises wisdom to anyone who would but ask of God.
Raising the next generation is the ministry to which God has called you.
You are not alone.
He will grant you His wisdom in the moment and help you break free of guilt when you make a mistake.
8. Seek God Daily
There is no way around it. If you want to live with your mind freed from the “if only’s” and “why didn’t I’s” that trouble your mind you must determine to seek God daily in prayer and time in His Word. Searching out His character and His ways will be your guide in the unsure days of mothering that lie ahead.
9. Transform Your Mind with Truth
Stop reading every blog out there about parenting, and go to the Bible. Romans 12:2 instructs us to let our thinking be completely transformed by Truth. Only then will you be able to discern the perfect will of God.
10. Don’t Be a Victim of Your Thoughts
Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ whenever guilt attempts to grip your mind (see 2 Corinthians 10:5).
The battle is won and lost in your thoughts,
ask God for help to put away destructive thinking that will rob your joy which is your strength (see Nehemiah 8:10).
Prayer: Father, please set me free from the bondage of guilt. Grant me Your joy and peace in this ministry of motherhood.*
Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman with more than 30 years of helping women build no regrets lives by mentoring, speaking and writing books grounded in Scripture and easy to read––like you’re visiting with a friend over coffee. She speaks and appears nationally on radio including Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk, Family Life Today and Focus on the Family. She and her husband speak at marriage conferences, MOPs and homeschool conventions. Evangelism is her sweet spot. For more and to book Rhonda for your next event please visit: NoRegretsWoman.com