No matter what you may have been told, nobody’s mom is perfect. Try as they may, all of our moms fell short in some area or another. Many of us had mothers who were verbally or sexually abusive, physically or emotionally absent, chronically ill or mentally unwell. Maybe you are still living out that reality every day in your interactions with your mom.
Before we know it, we’re looking at our own newborn babies or adopted sweeties and literally FREAKING OUT. “How in the WORLD do I create meaningful connection with this child when my mom was ________________ (fill in the blank)?” This is hard for everyone but it’s especially overwhelming for those who didn’t experience it or have it modeled for them.
Now before you give up and devote the rest of your mothering days to sucking your thumb in the corner until your kids grow up and move out – THERE IS GOOD NEWS! You CAN learn how to be a connected, nurturing mom.
Here are three tips to become a connected mom when you didn’t have one.
1. “I don’t want to be like my mom” cannot be your mantra.
It’s easy to miss this important decision. Before you know it, you find yourself screaming at your kids “just like Mom did.” Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t want to parent the way she did. Bear in mind, it is good to be aware of toxic or hurtful behaviors you don’t want to replicate. But deciding not to behave like she did is incomplete if you don’t choose what is good for you and for your children. As Christians, we always have a good model: Jesus. I John 2:6 encourages us this way: “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
This shifts your focus from the pain of your negative experiences to the HOPE that is in Christ and His example.
Here’s a practical way to put the model of Christ in front of you every day. Print out some specific Bible verses that remind you how you DO want to act. Let those become what you meditate on rather than a negative mantra about your mom.
2. Find a really practical mentor.
So, what in the world is a “practical mentor”? I’m glad you asked because I just made that term up! It’s someone who will give you action steps towards your goal of modeling Christ as you interact with your children. It is beautiful and necessary to have women in your life who will commit to prayer and study of the word with you, but…let’s be real. Sometimes we need actual, physical advice, amiright?
As my oldest child was approaching her teen years, one of my “mom mentors” gave me the BEST practical advice: “When she wants to talk – talk! And sometimes that happens at 11:00 pm and you are exhausted and you don’t want to talk. But you must. When it’s possible, make yourself available to stop and listen to her, because those times might become fewer and far between.” Sisters, that little piece of information was EVERYTHING as we navigated high school with our oldest. Do you have a lady who is willing to give you practical connection advice, all the while encouraging you to be your own person who does things in your own unique way? If you don’t, be fearless and ask someone you respect to become that person in your life.
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.
When I look at scripture, and in my own personal experience, I see the Holy Spirit as a perfect example of Nurturing and Connecting. In John 14:26, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in this way, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” We see the Holy Spirit play the role of Comforter, Helper, Advocate, and Reminder of Truth. That sounds a whole lot like what I know a mom is called to be for her kiddos, don’t you think?
I find that when I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me how to be a connected mom, He actually does! I’ll see His movements in Scripture from a new perspective. I’ll be more in tune with how He nurtures me so I can imitate His love. In the midst of a stressful parenting situation, I often will say out loud, “Holy Spirit, I need You to show me how to connect with my child and not shut them out! I need You to show up and teach me!” More often than not, I find myself viewing the situation differently. And then, the miracle - I feel myself making a connected choice instead of a self-indulgent angry choice. Doesn’t that sound great? <Insert deep, satisfied sigh.>
A big, important note on that last point: If your mom was very hurtful and abusive, you may not be too keen on the Holy Spirit. You know how if you have “dad issues”, it’s hard to view God as your Father? Well, from what I’ve seen, the same seems to be true with “mom issues” and the Holy Spirit because He is our Nurturer and Comforter. Take that pain and distrust to God and lay it out in front of Him. Give the Father permission to heal the wound. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit is waiting for you!
No one likes to talk bad about our mamas. It doesn’t feel right, does it? I get that. But you know what? We’re all broken in some way, shape or form. Learning how to be a connected, nurturing mom is possible for you and everyone who seeks it. And, my sisters, can you imagine the impact of that for generations to come in your family? A new legacy of meaningful motherhood begins with YOU! Let’s get this ball rollin’!
Janet Mylin (co-author of The One Year Mother-Daughter Devos and Just Call Me Kate) has been a part of the True Girl writing and speaking team since the beginning! Janet understands the battle of claiming your security in Christ as you navigate the rough and smooth waters of motherhood. She and her husband, Andy, own Messenger Creative Marketing and Design.
Looking for another way to stay connected? Join us for the True Girl Pajama Party Tour! This 2 1/2 hour event was strategically designed for you and your 7-12-year-old daughter to grow closer to each other and closer to Jesus. We'll be in over 40 cities this fall, head to mytruegirl.com/events to find a city near you.