By Donna Jones, Crosswalk.com
Every mom has the same unspoken thought at least once: I have no idea what I’m doing! Even if the thought never wields its way into words, it’s there, lurking just underneath, until some epic “mom fail” catapults an otherwise buried sense of inadequacy to the surface.
Motherhood, in all its wonderful, God-ordained glory, plops us into waters way over our heads.
This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily; it can drive us to our knees in deeper dependence on God. But it can also drive us to live with daily discouragement or incessant insecurity--unless we learn how to live as confident, secure moms, and grasp what’s at stake if we don’t.
The truth is, every child--including yours--needs a confident mom. Here are five ways lack of confidence hinders our parenting:
1. We Constantly Battle Fear
I’ll be the first to admit when I became a mom fear became an all-too-familiar friend. Like most women, I assumed fear was just part of the landscape of motherhood. I mean, isn’t worrying what moms do best? Isn’t it irresponsible not to worry?
Worry is not the same thing as concern. Worry is driven by fear, which has its roots in insecurity; concern is driven by care, which has its roots in confidence.
A confident mom encourages, while an insecure mom controls. A confident mom protects while insecure mom over-protects. A confident mom helps, but an insecure mom helicopters. A confident mom directs, while an insecure mom demands.
How does parental fear-based insecurity affect kids? Children raised by insecure, fearful moms are likely to become insecure and fearful, too. They will hesitate to try new things, and feel the need for perfection when they do. Their childhood sense of adventure may be thwarted, and they’ll be less likely to develop resilience, which comes only when a child tries, fails, and learns to try again.
If You Lack Confidence Because of Fear, Try This: Ask an older, wiser mom if you are overprotective. If so, allow your child to take one small step outside your comfort zone. Memorize Psalm 16:5: LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. (NLT)
2. We’re Easily Swayed
In parenting, consistency is crucial, but when a mom lacks confidence she is easily swayed. She feels torn when faced with parental decisions other parents think are outdated, silly or wrong--and people do offer unsolicited advice. She may even feel the need to apologize or justify her choices. An insecure mom will often give in to her child, even when she senses she shouldn’t. Let’s face it: it takes confidence to stand one’s ground with a whiny child, a temper-tantrum throwing toddler, or an angry teenager.
When our youngest daughter was a freshman in high school she was invited to a party at the home of a family we did not know. I called ahead to confirm there would be parental supervision--and found out I was the only parent who did! Since we had an earlier family commitment, our daughter planned to arrive late. But when we drove up to the home, the chaos was clear. Music blared. Kids roamed in and out of the house. My husband didn’t even stop the car. “You aren’t going”, we told her.
If a disappointed toddler can throw a fit, a disappointed teen can take it to new heights. “But I’ll be he only one not there!” “All kids play loud music at parties!” “You know I don’t do bad stuff, even if others do.” “Pleeaasse!!!”
It took every shred of confidence we possessed to withstand the barrage of reasons, rationalizations, pleading, and tears we faced that night.
Confidence enables us stand our ground when we’re tempted to cave under pressure. It’s not always easy, but taking the harder, better road comes with parental rewards. Our daughter later thanked us for refusing to sway.
If You Are Too Easily Swayed, Try This: Confident moms are consistent moms--and it’s much easier to be consistent if your parenting is covered in prayer. Prayerfully make your parenting decisions. Ask, “Am I making this decision because it’s best, or because I feel pressured?” Make decisions out of prayer, not pressure.
3. We’re Constantly Overwhelmed or Under Utilized
An over-committed schedule is often an indication of an under-confident parent.
Lack of confidence leads us to say “yes” when we should say “no”. Insecurity makes us people pleasers, rather than God-pleasers. As a result, we forfeit boundaries necessary to live a balanced life.
Why is this detrimental to a child? Families who live overwhelmed, live unconnected. There simply isn’t time for meaningful moments when mom runs ragged.
There’s another side to the insecurity coin, though. Lack of confidence not only drives us to say “yes” when we shouldn’t, it also prevents us from saying “yes” when we should. If we allow insecurity to dictate our decisions, we are just as likely to feel under-utilized, as we are to feel overwhelmed.
If You Feel Overwhelmed or Under Utilized, Try This: Before making any new commitments, think through the implications for you, and for your family. What’s at stake if you say “yes”? What’s at stake if you say “no”? Then, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ be ‘no’ (James 5:12).
4. We Want to Be our Child’s Friend
Leadership requires confidence. We know this. Look at any successful organization and you’ll see a confident leader at the helm. Why is it then, so many of us fail to see the need for confidant leadership in parenting? Could it be our own insecurity causes us to shrink back from making decisions that might make our kids unhappy? Even temporarily?
When moms don’t lead, kids do. And parents become the peer.
The problem, of course, is that no child has sufficient maturity, knowledge, or wisdom to lead a home. Their small shoulders aren’t big enough to carry the burden. Our shoulders are. Secure kids have secure moms who loving lead as the parent, not the friend.
If You Want to Be Your Child’s Friend, Remember This: A child can have many friends, but only one mom. Repeat this to yourself if you must: “I am the adult”. Then, commit to lead your child with love.
5. We Derive Our Significance Through our Child’s Performance or Popularity
We’ve all seen them: the parent who demands the “A” or the first string; the parent who touts their child’s every success--from taking a first step, to taking a first job; the mom who wants her daughter to be the prettiest, smartest, most athletic, most popular, because she wasn’t--or was.
When a parent lacks confidence, she lives vicariously through her child’s successes, and she falls apart over her child’s failures.
Parents who derive their significance from their child’s behavior set impossible standards, or set few standards at all. Parental insecurity drives us to spend money we don’t have, to buy things our child doesn’t need, so our child’s performance or popularity will make us feel good. The child’s well-being is no longer the focus--our well-being is.
Not only is this a great way to raise a self-absorbed or stressed-out child, it’s also a great way to ensure an emotional collapse when our child’s performance doesn’t meet our expectations.
If You Are Prone to Derive Your Significance from Your Child, Try This: Take note of your emotional response when your child fails to live up to your expectations--or exceeds them! Be honest enough to ask, “Am I looking to my child to validate my worth?”
No mom is confident on her own. Motherhood is simply too great a task, and too holy a mission, to be done without help. But God promises to provide the confidence we need through Christ. All we need to do is ask.
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)
I can do all things through Christ who gives my strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Donna Jones is a recovering insecure mom of three young adult kids who frequently sit on her kitchen counter, just to chat. She’s a pastor’s wife, a national speaker, and the author of three books and four Bible Studies--one on developing confidence. You can find her resources at www.donnajones.org, and connect with her on Facebook (Donna Jones, Speaker & Author) and Instagram @donnaajones.
Photo Credit: ©Pexels-Jefferson-Lucena