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When Mothers don’t see how bad their kids are

A few weeks ago I started watching “Mad Men” season one.

(Note: My dear friend warned me I wouldn’t like the smut.  She was right.  After about seven episodes I had to stop watching. Sad. I really LOVE the costumes, set dec, and the historical details. Booo smut.) 

I am now totally intrigued by that era of American history. Tell me, were women really treated that way in this country? ¡No puedo creerlo! I don’t think it was like this in Australia.  Am I wrong?  (Note to self: Ask Mum about her observations of the treatment of women in Australia in the 60s.)

Thanks to Mad Men, I now understand why the feminist movement happened in the US. It HAD to happen. For the first time, I’m genuinely grateful for the women and men who brought such a radical change to this culture.  There is good fruit from the feminist movement.  I am so grateful to have had access to education, encouragement, freedoms etc etc.  I’m sure I’ll never fully understand just how much of my life is a result of the good fruit of the battle for equality.

But, as with most things, both good and bad fruit came from the feminist movement and subsequent cultural shifts.

I got to have time with one of my mentors last night.  She is an incredible woman and every time we get to chat my life is deeply touched.  We got together last night to talk about her preparation to preach on womanhood.  Her wisdom and viewpoint is so deep and good.  I’m excited and honored to be part of her journey.

As I drove to our meeting I was praying for her and for the topic.  I asked God, “What is your heart for the women of our church and this community?”

This is what stirred in my heart:

Rise up Mother’s heart.
Do not wait to be valued.
Do not be quiet anymore.

I thought about Mad Men and how womanhood had been devalued.  I thought about the battle for equality and how womanhood is still being devalued. This is one of the downsides of the battle for equality: we had to shelve some of the non-equal things about womanhood.  And although we should be valued equally, men and women are not the same.  We can do the same things and should have the same opportunities but we are not the same. (Oh I feel like I’m opening a can of worms.)

Here’s my sense of what I felt God say to me: This is a new season. What happens now is not a reflection upon or condemnation of the past. What happens now is what needs to happen for now. The value of a woman and the value of a mother’s heart was set aside during an era when other things needed to be addressed and valued.  But now is now.

I feel God is stirring up the Mother’s heart to be active again.  This term I’m using, “Mother’s heart”, is not just in women who have children.  I believe there is a “Mother’s heart” in women who don’t have children.  And there is even a “Mother’s heart” in men too.  I see a “Mother’s heart” in the way a Grandpa adores his granddaughter.  I see a “Mother’s heart” in the way a man dresses as Santa and gives special time to each child that comes by.  Know what I mean?  Or am I being weird?  Regardless, I think there are some extremely valuable functions of that “Mother’s heart” that need to be revived and valued again.

I do not have fully processed thoughts about this yet but, if you’re willing to go along for the ride, I’d like to dump some thoughts out and see what comes of them.

Today’s thought:  When Mothers don’t see how bad their kids are.

Years ago a dear friend of mine defended her daughter in a situation where her daughter was 100% in the wrong.  I sided with the other person because there was no other choice.  The daughter was wrong.  I asked my friend, “How can you support your daughter in this?  She is totally in the wrong!”

My friend’s response changed my life view: “I am not siding with her because she is right, I’m siding with her because I am her mother and if she ever comes back around I want her to know I’m for her.”

Surely Dr Phil would say this was wrong?  Surely what was really needed was “Tough Love”?  Right?  I mean, isn’t that we’re told?  You can’t support bad behaviour, right?  Isn’t it a terrible thing if a Mother is in denial about the badness of her children?  Wouldn’t she be “enabling” her children?  Is there anything worse than a Mother who thinks her children are perfect when in reality they are awful?

Hmmmm.  Yes, there are situations when Mothers are enabling their children to behave badly.  Yes, there are times when tough love is needed.  But these are exceptions.  These are minority occurences.  And somewhere along the way we’ve let these small percentage situations establish a cultural norm.

We threw the baby out with the bathwater.  And we devalued this function of a Mother’s heart.  What if, instead of viewing it as “a denial of problems”… we called it “being a prophet of hope?”

My friend was choosing to hope in who her daughter could be.  She didn’t join the rest of the world as it stood against her daughter in judgement.  She chose to stand with her daughter and believe that she could grow and change.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Who will see the best and believe the best about my kids if I don’t?  In fact, there is an enemy who is out to kill, steal and destroy their lives (John 10:10).  There are schemes being built against them.  They have enough critics and judges in their lives.  I should be a voice of hope in their lives.  Am I wrong in this??

So I’m choosing to revive my Mother’s heart to be a prophet of hope.  I will stand for my children and believe the best of them.  I will stop looking for things to be critical of.  I will guide, teach and discipline but I will do it as an advocate not a critic.  I need to value my role as a believer in and advocate for these amazing humans.  And not for just my own children.  God has placed this Mother’s heart in community.  I want to be a prophet of hope for the people in my life.  My Mother’s heart needs to be revived and active.  I will stand by the people I know God has placed me with.  I will stand for the beautiful possibilities of their lives.

This Mother’s heart will see the good and the beautiful and the best of what could be.

By the way, my Mum has modelled this for me in incredible ways.  She has fought for my sister and I.  She has always called out the best in us, even when all other voices spoke criticism.  Thank you Mum.  You are amazing.  I’m so sorry I didn’t value this in my own life.  I need to be more like you.  Love you.

Ok.  Today’s brain dump complete.

What do you think? Are there parts of your Mother’s heart that you don’t value?  How hard is it to see the best in people?  How socially appropriate is it to support imperfect people?

13 thoughts on “When Mothers don’t see how bad their kids are”

  • Oh wow, how do you find the words that I have been marinating in for years, but still feel trapped by self-pity, or dogma? (Confession, I’m jealous that a) you even have time and brain space to write daily 2) that when you do you articulate things that I have been thinking about for years and have not been able to communicate. There is a dawning truth God has deep in my being, the truth something isn’t right with the how we define things, but how do I describe it? You do it. So now that I have confessed, I will move on =)

    In my Master’s program I ended up doing some women’s studies. And while I never expected to land there I learn something from these secular women about a flaw in the feminist movement. Because men are physically stronger, society has valued their strengths and skill sets; and, because it has looked like those were the traits that defined history, the feminists decided those where the traits women needed in order to be valued. This wasn’t equal, this was “we must be like you.” The feminists I was reading said, “We need to shift our thinking to value the ‘typically woman skill set’ as much as the ‘typical male skill set.’ That is true equality.”

    Your wise friend’s (Laurie, by chance?) 3 points are spot on, especially the “don’t wait to be valued.” That’s what gets me. If I were to take Strength Finders, it would show that I need affirmation for the jobs I do, and well, that isn’t in the normal job description of mothering. As a community of woman, we can be amazingly affirming, and amazingly not. As a church community, the skills that are valued are the ones that “help” the church, but may not the ones that are seen in the church building. Have we have forgotten the mother’s heart in the family and in the community? We must reclaim that value, because it is the glue that holds society together as it most basic level. We can’t wait to be valued to do our job, but as a community of woman and men, we can work to give voice and say “well done” to each woman that walks in our doors. Our society is unraveling as mothers (and fathers) abandon their “mother’s heart” in pursuit of other ideals.

    Jesus showed the mother’s heart of God. He called it forth when he said that if you want to be greatest you must be the least, and if you want to truly lead you must follow. A mother’s heart leads by following. We walk behind our child being that prophet of hope, loving them and calling out their best, because no one else in their lives will, it is OUR mandate. This is not denial, it is praying for God’s eyes to see our children as He does, and walking with them as if they are already those people, calling out who they were created to be. And, hello, that is some of the hardest work there is.

    Thanks you, friend, for being that voice.

  • I believe that our kids need balance. To “friend” or “unfriend” someone is not an appropriate way to do this most of the time. Yes, we need to hold our kids accountable, but it is important for our kids to know that although we don’t necessarily agree with their choices, we will still love them. God loves us when we are horrid, He chastises us, He holds us accountable, He allows us to live thru the consequences of our actions, but He never “unfriends” us. As a parent, i want my boys to know both right from wrong, but also that i love them even when they make bad choices and yes, when they come back around they know that i’ll still be there. That mom can let her child know she is wrong in a situation, but still “hear” her and love her thru her consequences, actions, and choices. I choose to be there for my kids always… good, bad, ugly, joyful.

  • I’ve loved being on the receiving end of YOUR ‘mother’s heart’ for years…and I knew you’d be a great mum–and you are. I still love being able to seek wisdom and advice from someone who sees my heart and speaks into it truth (in love) and life (from the word of God). Love you, and praying for God to keep doing his good work in you Jus!

  • I love this post. I think there is such a huuge difference in being in denial about how bad your children are, and seeing the bad but hoping it to change. I think that you have to recognise the imperfections in your children to fully and completely love them.

  • Yes, it really was that bad. You really must watch the original version of “The Women” (recent remake was an abysmal failure) to get a sliver of understanding of the second class status of women until recently. The women’s movement, though flawed, HAD to happen. We are (mostly) better for it.

What do you think?

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