You care for your kids the best you know how. Same. Don’t we all? It is joy, but also struggle.
We try to raise them well, make informed decisions, love them to the very ends of our human limits. Of which there are many.
Somehow, it’s not enough, and too much.
All at once.
The lie that leaks the joy out of our parenting is sneaky.
Feelings of not doing enough and doing too much hold hands in my heart. It depends on where I look for reassurance.
The opinions start the moment your newborn is nestled into your arm. Actually, more like the moment your pregnancy is public.
At first, I appreciated different perspectives and anything off-colour just rolled off my back. But when left unchecked, I can end up letting opinions dictate my worth as a parent.
The Opinion Overload
- Cloth diapers are cleaner and healthier, disposable diapers are way more convenient.
- Get vitamin D. But don’t go in the sun, take a supplement. Wear sunscreen. Don’t wear sunscreen, wear hats.
- Careful not to breastfeed too much, or not enough. Babies don’t need formula, but use formula if you want it to sleep longer. Breast milk might cause cavities at night.
- Vaccinate or baby could die. Don’t ask about vaccine aluminum in infants or long-term health studies though. Just listen.
- The baby should be sleeping better by now. But he’ll sleep eventually so stop worrying.
- Use orajel for teething. But not orajel because it’s dangerous.
- Give baby a soother. Don’t give baby a soother. It’s too soon, too late, too long.
- Cry it out. Use a schedule. Don’t cry it out. Don’t schedule.
- Let him be a kid, do your thing. As long as the kids are clean and polite and presentable and your kitchen is in order.
The list is almost limitless.
The problem of opinion overload in motherhood?
insecurity (noun) uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.Oxford Languages
All the opinions feed this feeling:
No matter what I do. Or don’t do. I’m failing.
No matter what I do. Or don’t do. I’m insecure.
I’m doing too much and not enough all at once. I can’t possibly know everything AND do everything.
The real problem is this
It might seem like an opinion overload problem, but it’s more than that. Sure, he could be more considerate or she could be more tactful. But…
Insecurity is a me issue not a them issue. Why?
Insecurity is internal.
Insecurity is created by how I process the options and opinions. Not the opinions themselves.
Do I let a different opinion from my own determine my worth as a parent? Do I let it suck the joy of parenthood?
It comes down to this one question: Where do I look for my security?
I look for security in being perceived as a good mother.
I want you to think I’m a good mom. And if you do, then I must be.
How’s that for the worst place to look for personal security and affirmation, ever?
Of course I want to be a good mom. I want to do the right things. Feed the right foods. Teach the right things.
I want to have meaningful conversations about parenting, be knowledgeable about recent research, understand the whats and whys and hows.
And I want to be open to learning. Always.
And hey, if I’m feeding my kid KD for breakfast, lunch, and dinner thinking it’s the most nutritious meal ever, I want someone to encourage me otherwise.
But being told we might be doing something “wrong” when it comes to our kids stings, doesn’t it?
Can anyone relate? Or is it just me?
I end up wanting everyone to support my parenting choices, but that’s not even the worst part.
If you don’t struggle with this, you are amazing. I want to be more like you! For those of you that do, I feel you.
The real lie is this
If you don’t like my parenting choices, I must be a bad parent. Right? Wrong. Of course that’s wrong. We all know that’s a lie.
Not only is that a lie, but it’s also impossible to achieve the alternative and it sucks the joy right out of parenthood.
Unfortunately, it’s a lie I allow to masquerade as truth if I leave it unchecked. It leaves me incredibly insecure.
So How Do We Overcome Insecurity?
Here’s what I’m learning...
- Embrace vulnerable.
I’m the first to admit I don’t know everything, but it’s easy to secretly think I do.
Embrace the vulnerable feeling of not knowing everything by just admitting it. Holding on to our “ways” so tightly we harden ourselves to other perspectives is just not healthy. But it’s an easy place to get to.
We are vulnerable when we acknowledge that. While I am doing my best with the information and resources I have, I don’t know everything. I might learn something that causes me to change my mind and that’s ok. That’s good.
This isn’t about lacking resolve or about abandoning conviction.
It’s just about admitting that we’re not all-knowing. Because… we’re not.
- Get curious.
Curiosity is a beautiful lost art. Have we forgotten how to be curious?
Ask questions. Seek to understand alternate opinions when they present themselves (judgment-free). We don’t have to agree with everything to ask thoughtful questions.
It shows respect. And humility.
We can respect one another without fully agreeing with one another. When we don’t, the world gets ugly pretty quick anyways.
Curiosity keeps us learning and keeps us humble; incredible virtues to give to our kids.
- Search for true.
What lies do you believe about yourself? Identify them. I wrote more about knowing the lies you tell yourself here.
One of the great mentors in my life says we need to “clean out our truth drawer” regularly.
We all have one. A drawer full of things we have decided are true. But sometimes ideas get into that drawer that aren’t true, they need rethinking.
“I’m a good mom if someone else thinks I am” is one of the lies that got into mine.
What are you keeping in your truth drawer that shouldn’t be there? How is that affecting you?
- Zoom out.
Look for the big picture.
What matters most in the big scheme of things?
My big picture is Jesus. If you’re not a Jesus follower, I get that. Here’s why I am… He is the perfect that I am not. He loves me and he makes me new, he is my help and he is the perfect parent that I am not. Where my human capacity ends, his doesn’t. He gives me strength where I am weak, and He loves my family in ways I can’t.
I’m going to fail as a mother. Thank God, “There is a perfect that I am not.” (a powerful talk by Andy Stanley)
Whatever someone may think of me, what matters most is what HE thinks of me.
When I look at Jesus instead of at other people for my assurance and security it never waivers. Not just as a parent, but as a person.
Friends that wrestle with similar insecurities, what have I missed?
Does insecurity leak joy from parenting for you?