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Why your child’s behavior doesn’t define you

By: modesty brantley

The day I abandoned a full cart of groceries and carried a screaming, flailing, tutu-clad 3-year-old out of the store is one for the memory books. I may have been the picture of calm on the outside, but inside I was falling to pieces.  

Part of me wanted to lie down on the floor and have a stage five tantrum with her. We’ve all been there. At least I have, on many occasions. Raising a strong-willed child is not for the faint of heart. She hadn’t napped, didn't have lunch on her favorite plate, and she had had enough with the grocery shopping. I get it, kid. Life is hard.  

But there in the midst of the meltdown, I heard another voice. A condemning voice.

If you were more consistent with discipline this wouldn’t happen.

A good mom would never have brought her out without a nap in the first place. 

Maybe you’re beyond the days of tantrums and instead, you’re fearful for your child’s future, unsure of the decisions they’ve made and the direction they are heading. You lay awake most nights believing that you’ve failed. Ever been there? It would be easy to let Satan’s condemnation dictate how we see ourselves as mothers. But our God is much bigger than that.  

Romans 8:37 says, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Conquerors of death, doubt, condemnation, and yes, the lies that bind us to a life of less than our true worth.  

Hope for the Weary Mama

When the days are long and you begin to believe that you are the sum of your children's behavior, here are three ways to gain a fresh perspective:

1. Replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth.  

We are born sinners, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This means that our precious children are also born with the natural ability to sin. We are imperfect mothers raising imperfect children. But, a beautiful truth remains. Just as God created you and me, He also intimately created every detail of our children and He loves them (Psalm 139). Rest in that fact. He loves your baby more than you do. He’s got this, mama.

2. Find community. 

Some days require reinforcements. When we seek out the community of other godly women and mothers, we surround ourselves with encouragers, prayer warriors, and confidants. We weren’t meant to do life alone and having other women to call on when the going gets tough is a necessity for well-being. God ministers to us through the love of other believers in a way that can’t happen if we don’t engage in community.

3. Give grace. 

Give grace abundantly — to yourself, other mothers, your husband, parents, friends, bosses.  The more practice we have in giving grace to others the more likely we are to accept it ourselves. Motherhood is a lifelong practice in grace. When God gave the world His Son, Jesus, He gave us the greatest grace of all (1 John 4:9). As recipients of this gift we are not called to perfection, but to grow in relationship with our Heavenly Father. Give yourself grace on the hard days. Give your children grace on their hard days. Draw closer to Jesus and you will experience the peace only He can give.  

The day we brought our firstborn home, I had been a mom for about 5 minutes and thought I knew everything there was to know about raising babies. I would protect him from every hurt, he’d never throw tantrums, would prefer green beans over jelly beans, and it would all be because of my efforts.  

Success as a parent is not based on my efforts but my willingness to surrender everything.

That mom was hard to be — keeping up with all the “shoulds and should-nots” and believing this precious life was mine alone to love and guide and protect. I'm so thankful Jesus spoke into my parenting.

Success as a parent is not based on my efforts but my willingness to surrender everything, and let God into the crazy, the weak, the tired, and the anxious. The simplest, and yet hardest, thing we may ever do as mothers is to understand that God establishes the steps of our children just as He has for us.  

If you’re struggling as a mother, seek truth in God’s Word and through prayer. Ask Him to bring godly wisdom into your life through other mothers and find peace in knowing that God chose you uniquely to be the mother your child needs. In bold faith, know the behavior of your child does not define you; the abundant love of your Heavenly Father does (Ephesians 1:4).

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