3 Simple Ways to be More Empathetic toward Other Moms
For years, I have felt "less than" as a Mom because I don’t have exorbitant amounts of energy nor am I energized by household tasks. Most days, a nap, or at least some down time, is required so I don’t combust physically or emotionally as I parent. I look around at others moms and wonder how they do all they do without their bodies aching or their emotions getting the better of them.
Recently, I worked up the courage to ask an older woman for some advice on how to thrive as a Mom. I was curious to learn how she managed her bustling household when she was younger. I sat on the edge of the sofa, eager to receive her wisdom and learn a few tried and true secrets.
“I didn’t sit down,” she offered.
My shoulders sank, as I tried to hide my disappointment. Through the filter of my insecurity, I twisted her words to mean that if I don’t parent like she did then I’m not measuring up.
But here’s the thing, not all moms are created equal. We all have value and worth, but we aren’t all programmed with the same amount of stamina or with identical skill sets. While we can learn from each other, and should, we don’t have to be someone that we are not.
God did not wire us the same nor weave us together in the same manner. Some moms can beep and bop their way around the day, no problem, other moms require a daily nap and extra help to complete tasks, and some moms find themselves somewhere in between. But guess what? They are all good moms.
Don’t despise your wiring, don’t discount your temperament. God has made you wonderfully. Your approach to parenting might look different than your friend’s approach does, and that is quite all right. It doesn’t mean you are missing the mark of motherhood.
I have been guilty of expecting other moms to parent like I do. Assuming they think like me, I’ve been careless with words and actions. I’ve inadvertently made other moms feel badly when I offered advice that was contrary to their temperament or approach.
We are not all created the same when it comes to our talents, wiring, and abilities—and that is a good thing.
Here are three ways to be more empathetic toward those who parent differently than you do:
1. Realize that one size does not fit all: God has created women with unique giftings and temperaments. We are not all created the same when it comes to energy, interests, and ambitions. What works for you might not work for someone else. Just because someone parents differently it does not mean that they are wrong and you are right or they are right and you are wrong.
2. Shift perspective: Try and see things from another mom’s perspective. Don’t try and change her to fit your mold or ideal. As you walk in another’s shoes, even for a few minutes, you might glean a strategy or two to help you parent with intention. For example: Although I won’t be standing up most of the day, like the mentor mom did, I can learn to be more disciplined in completing household tasks when I am on my feet. Let’s not discount the value of learning from one another.
3. Celebrate common ground: Instead of engaging in Mommy Wars like breast fed or bottle fed, staying-at-home or going to work, eating organic or nuking frozen dinners—try to find common ground. Celebrate the fact that you both love your children. Extend grace for those who do things differently than you do. Instead of being defensive about our parenting methods or belittling others for theirs, let’s offer kind and gracious words to one another. Let’s ask questions instead of accusatory statements. Let’s build a bridge and not a wedge as we embrace what we share and don’t despise where we differ.
Dear God: Thank You for Your creativity in weaving each of us together. Forgive us for assuming that everyone should do things our way. Help us to forgive ourselves for hurting others. Help us to forgive those who have belittled us. Thank You that You have created us in Your image, according to Your purposes. Help us not to resent the way that You have made us or others. Thank You that we don’t have to have it all together. Thank You that You uphold us and love us more than we can fathom. Help us to love others with kindness, patience, and grace—as you love us.
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Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her husband, four children and their life in ministry. Through writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She has an album, Echoes of My Heart, and is a writer for God-sized Dreams and Purposeful Faith. She blogs at katiemreid.com and can be found on Twitter @Katie_M_Reid