when you fear you’re messing up your kids

messing up my kidsI don’t know quite when it started. That little voice in my head. But soon it became a familiar companion — constantly reminding me of my mothering inadequacy.

It never missed an opportunity.

When I couldn’t seem to get my kids to school on time: “A good mom would set better consequences and this wouldn’t be a problem.”

When I lost my temper: “See? You blew it again. What a great example for your kids.”

When I disappointed one of my children: “This is what they will remember about you. All the times you screwed up.”

When I gave in when I should have stood firm: “You are so weak.”

Sometimes it would say, “Their behavior is all your fault, you know.” Other times it would simply say, “You’re a bad mom.”

I found myself agreeing more and more. I believed what it told me was true: I was messing up my kids. 

One mistake, one failure, one angry outburst at a time, I was surely damaging them beyond all repair. 

The more I focused on my failings, the more hopeless and discouraged I became. Finally, I was broken. I told God that I couldn’t do this anymore. I needed Him to show me a way out. Slowly, He began to challenge me to quit hyper-focusing on my weakness and to begin focusing on His power.

When those “bad mom” voices began to pop in my head, I realized they were lies. God began to give me a new voice — His — to put them in their place.

His voice didn’t condemn me. It gave me hope and life. He began to tell me three things over and over again. He wants you to know them, too:

“I can redeem your mistakes.”

Motherhood revealed some ugly things in me — selfishness, impatience, unforgiveness, an unhealthy need for approval. Gradually, God began to work with me in these areas. I truly was making some costly mistakes with my children. God’s voice, however, is never condemning. He doesn’t say, “You’re a bad mom. You’ll never get it right. It’s hopeless.”

But how was I going to reverse unhealthy patterns and undo the damage? I couldn’t turn back the clock.

Here is the verse God gave me over and over: “He will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25.) Our job is not to try to “fix” the past. We can’t! The only thing we can do is to obedient to what is right for our kids TODAY.

I don’t understand quite how, but I know this to be true: As we follow God’s leading, He is able to use our mistakes for the good of our children. It becomes part of their journey that He can use to draw them closer to Him.

“You don’t have what it takes, but I do.”

For years, two facts drove my mothering: I wanted my kids approval. I hated conflict. These two facts drove me to give in over and over again. I knew I shouldn’t. I’d feel horrible every time I did it. So I’d resolve that tomorrow would be different. Then I’d waver. And the cycle would repeat itself all over again.

I felt so weak. And I was. So every morning, I began to wake up saying this prayer, “God, today give me YOUR wisdom and courage.”

I love what Ephesians 1:19-20 tells us: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

Mom, God has given us the same power that He used to raise Christ for the dead! We just have to ask for it.

The more I began to rely on His strength, the more strength I felt. I still didn’t (and don’t) like conflict, but I’m not afraid of it anymore.

My life bears witness to this truth: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

“Motherhood can’t be about you.”

I had to quit looking to my kids to make me feel good about myself. That’s not their job. It wasn’t fair to expect that of them. It was hurting our relationship. No kid wants that responsibility.

My love for my children and my confidence in God’s power gave me the courage to be guided by their well-being instead of my own. Even if it meant they didn’t like me. Even if it caused short-term pain and conflict.

Learning to rest in the knowledge that my worth could be found in God alone freed me to be the mom my kids needed.


After 18 years of mothering, I haven’t been able to silence those “bad mom” voices completely. I probably never will.

But I’ve learned not to agree with them anymore. You can, too.  

Want to learn more about freedom from guilt in our mothering?
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i’m melinda


I’m a woman who was radically changed when the God I thought I knew since childhood opened my eyes to the overwhelming depth of His love for me. I love speaking, writing, and pointing women to the Father so they can experience for themselves the healing power of His incredible, captivating love.

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