Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

Fearless Mothering: What if I Mess Up My Kids?


{art: Henri Lebasque}

There are a few arrogant women in the world who think their mothering methods are pretty much perfect.

But most of us are painfully aware of our own weakness and inadequacies.

In fact, I daresay that this awareness fuels some of our greatest fear as mothers.

We hear adult children of dysfunctional parents tell of how their parents messed them up.

Or we recognize our own parents’ shortcomings and how they affected us.

Maybe we never had a good model and we just don’t know how to be moms.

We don’t know what voices to listen to.  Popular parenting magazines?  Christian child-training “experts?”  Our peers?

Our dysfunctions pop to the surface.  We see how selfish we can be.  Maybe we yell or find that mothering brings out a latent anger we didn’t know we had.  We say cutting things that we wish we could take back.  Perhaps we struggle with depression or circumstances beyond our control…death, divorce, crumbling health, or financial devastation.

Life gets messy.  Really messy.

Mothering presents challenges we never anticipated.  It can range from basic personality clashes to profound special needs.  But in any case, these challenges leave us breathless, desperate, afraid.

The question that comes is: Do I have what it takes?

Can I be a good mom?

What if I mess my kids up forever?

These precious children whom I love more than life itself…What if I am not enough?

Sweet moms, I get it because I am right there with you.

You know what I have realized?  We aren’t enough.

We are broken, hurting women on a sin-shattered planet and our best efforts are not enough to guarantee a great outcome.

But should this make us despair?

Oh, no!

This is where faith comes in.

Jesus knows our weakness.  He knows we will mess up.  He knows our dysfunctions and our pain.

He knows that we are not enough—but he is.

And so, rather than give way to the terror that we will ruin our kids forever, I believe that there are several things that we can do.

1. Run to Jesus, and point our kids to him.

It’s why we need the good news, the Gospel, that Jesus died in our place and took the punishment for our sins.  When we accept that, he becomes our ruler and forgiver.  We don’t have to try to be good enough on our own any more.

He’ll change us.  He can take that brokenness and make us continually more whole in a process of inner transformation.

2. Extend grace to our children.

If we are harsh or have expectations of our kids that are higher than we have of ourselves, they will certainly resent us.  But if we approach them in a posture of humility, they will see that we are in this together, we all mess up, and we all need Jesus.  When we extend grace to them when they mess up, they will be more likely to extend grace to us when we mess up.

3. Trust God to fill in the gaps.

We still won’t be perfect.  It doesn’t matter how clean the house, how loving our words, how well-organized our educational plan, or how much devotional time we have.

We’re going to fall down.

We’re broken, period.  That’s why we need him.

And so we look to God, the only perfect parent, to fill in the gaps.  When we are unloving, he never is.  When we make mistakes, he never does.  When we fail to extend grace, he is ever gracious.  When we aren’t very good moms, he never fails.

And we can lean into his sweet grace and know that he is right there, fully able to fill in the empty spaces of our weakness.

He is enough.


This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering


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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!



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4 thoughts on “Fearless Mothering: What if I Mess Up My Kids?

  1. Wonderful post! Such true words and feelings. Thanks for visiting my “31 Day of No Really, We Homeschool” 🙂 I look forward to following your series. Blessings!

  2. I’m looking forward to yours too! Thanks!`

  3. Love this series, this is just what I needed to hear!

  4. Thank you, Kate. So glad it’s encouraging you! 🙂

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