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If you've ever thought What if I'm not getting this right? you are not alone.
Every mom has wondered, at one time or another, if we’re up for this task of mothering or if we're just messing up our kids.
What if I'm not involved enough in their lives?
What if I'm holding them back?
What if I'm too strict?
What if I'm not strict enough?
What if my own dysfunction is rubbing off on them?
You're not the only mom who wrestles with insecurities and thoughts that you're in over your head. And you're not the only one who beats yourself up when your children behave badly, when you discover they were in an unsafe situation, or when they make a choice that breaks your heart. As moms we blame ourselves for not being able to discern their every need, for working too much and seeing them too little, for being on the phone when we should be in their faces, and for not knowing the latest when it comes to what might be in their food – or in the air – that is now linked to causing cancer.
We blame ourselves, feel the guilt, and believe we are solely responsible for how they turn out.
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There are a number of factors that can contribute to our parenting insecurities, including our own upbringing, our children’s special needs or circumstances, how our children behave, or the remarks others say to or about us.
Yet God understands each of our concerns and I’m convinced He knew you and I wouldn't be able to raise our children without Him. So He put in our care the particular children we have so that we would lean in close to Him and depend on Him to get us through it every step of the way.
That is the first secret to becoming a more confident mom: entering into a day-to-day reliance on God, the Perfect Parent, who knows all things and through whom you and I can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
We all have some sort of baggage or dysfunction in our past. (Think about it… what family is truly 100 percent functional?) And all of our children, to some degree, have special needs or require additional time, or have their bad behavioral moments (no matter how old they get!). The reality of life is that you and I, and our children too, are broken individuals who will experience temptation, make the wrong decisions, endure a season of rebellion and so on. But God laid out some pretty specific instructions for us in Philippians 4:6-7 about how to deal with life and it applies very well to parenting:
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“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).
To worry about nothing and pray about everything is often easier said than done. You might be wondering: How do I find the time to pray? And how do I know if I'm praying enough? How do I remember to pray about everything? How do I not get discouraged if I pray and nothing seems to happen? And besides, it's hard to pray sometimes.
You're right. Praying is difficult sometimes. But not for the reasons you think. It's not because you don't say the right words or have the right techniques or set aside the perfect place to pray. God tells us that when we are in relationship with Him we can come boldly and confidently – at any time – and ask our Heavenly Father for what it is we need and be assured that He hears us (1 John 5:14-15). Yet, there is an enemy of our souls who doesn't want you and me praying. He wants to distract us, discourage us, and make us believe that our prayers are ineffective and a waste of time.
And yet prayer is one of the most effective things you can do for your child – and for yourself, as a mom. It certainly carries more weight and productivity than worrying. Talking to God about our children, about our concerns, and about our hopes and dreams for them is something He wants us to do. It's the way we open the door and let Him into the daily decisions – and anxieties – of parenting.
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If you're starting to think I've prayed before and it didn't accomplish much or I'm really not very good at praying, be assured of this: Prayer not only changes much, it changes us.
According to Philippians 4:6-7, prayer produces peace in our hearts. Even though God already knows what you're going to say, He wants you to pray because of the peace that accompanies your heart, mind, and soul, once you've been in His presence.
Here's a process which spells out the word PRAY that you can begin incorporating into your life right now to start gaining the peace and confidence you need as a parent:
P - Pray To Commune with God, Not To Get What You Want
Are you in a state of continually talking with God or do you only pray when things have gone wrong or you need some help? As we develop a daily communication with God, we will trust Him as easily as we breathe. Trust will be a part of us… like a close friend. And worry – that deep fearful anxiety of what might be – will soon be a stranger who no longer pesters us.
R- Reach Out For Help
Find a community of mentor moms who can help you by joining a moms group at your church, joining a Moms In Prayer group at your public or private school, or getting into a small group with other moms and reading through The Making of a Mom or 10 Secrets to Becoming A Worry-Free Mom. Moms grow through community and by reaching out for help from others who have gone before them.
A - Ask God for Wisdom, Not Necessarily the Answers
I'm encouraged by James 1:5 which tells us: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him,” (NASB). But make sure you are seeking God as the answer, not seeking God for answers.
I’ve learned to daily seek God for wisdom so I can have His mind, not my own. It's like consulting that Voice within that knows better than you do before the voice that comes out does its thing.
Y - Yearn for a Closer Walk with God
I am convinced that every relationship we care about, every area in which we hope to succeed, everything that means anything to us comes down to how closely connected we are with God. As we learn to love God, we can love others. As we serve Him, we can serve others. As we value His opinion of us over others, we can better and more maturely relate to our kids, especially our grown kids. As you long to know God more, and to please Him in every respect, it will show in your parenting.
But most of all, as you lean in closer to God, and look at what His Word says about Who He is and what He's capable of, He will help you live confidently, rather than fearfully. And you will find yourself becoming a worry-free, wisdom-filled woman and mom.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and popular author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, upon which this article is based. For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: March 2, 2016