The following post is an excerpt from Love Rules.
It seems like most of my friends are turning into their moms. (I am too.) Sometimes on Facebook, I confuse whole generations of women with each other. I do double takes when I’m scrolling through my feed. “Chelsea’s mom looks so young. Oh, wait. That is Chelsea.”
And no matter how hard we try not to, we seem to copy the exact parts of our moms we never liked in the first place. The equation is strangely inverse here. The more we dislike something about our own parents, the more likely we will grow up to be the same way. Also, the more likely our own kids will copy these same habits.
When I was little girl, my best friend’s mom was our Sunday school teacher. In the Fifth Grade, she sat us girls down and warned us that if we got pregnant before we were married, she would never forgive us.
Wait. What was she talking about? I had no idea how to get pregnant. I don’t think anyone else did either. But we nodded because our teacher had tears in her eyes, and we understood that this was serious.
When her daughter, my best friend, started dating, her mother threatened her
constantly, “If you get pregnant, you will be in trouble forever.”
You probably know the rest of the story. On prom night, my best friend told me she was pregnant. We cried and hugged and talked about the wedding she had already begun planning. I wanted to ask, “How in the world did this happen? What about all your mom’s warnings? You knew better.”
Years later, I found out her mom had also gotten pregnant when she was 18.
Another friend grew up hating his dad’s anger. His dad had a stressful job, came
home late, and then yelled at his kids. When they heard his car pull into the garage, they retreated to their rooms. As soon as his dad walked in the door, the mood of the whole house soured.
My friend vowed he would never be a dad like that. He turned down high-paying jobs and refused to follow the rat race to big paychecks. Instead, he was a teacher who left work at 4 o'clock to coach his kids’ soccer practices. He tucked his kids in every night with bedtime stories he had written himself.
But then his wife got sick and needed several surgeries. My dear friend took a high paying job to cover her medical expenses. He worked longer and longer hours and tried not to bring his stress home with him.
The last time we really talked, he told me how tired he was. He said he had been so short-tempered lately. He heard himself yelling at his kids for not picking up their clothes, for not coming for dinner, and for not finishing their homework—and he sounded just like his dad.
Somehow, by osmosis, kids pick up the worst habits of their parents. They imitate their parents’ most dysfunctional relationships. Even if we don’t understand how this happens, this truth remains: you will probably turn into your mother, and your kids will probably turn into you.
When it comes to growing family gardens, we often grow weeds. With our human black thumbs, we over prune the healthy parts and over fertilize the weeds. Left to our own plans, we make a mess out of mothering.
But God tells us to trust our children to Him. He tells you to root your family in the wisdom of His Word and faith from the Holy Spirit. This is how you grow the kind of family He intended.
Isn’t this what we’re all trying to do with our kids? Grow the kind of families that God tells us to? Yes, our best lessons about eating right and safe driving probably won’t stick. Our kids will repel what we push them toward and what we force into their lives. They will pick up our most disgusting habits and have the same heartbreaks as us in such identical ways that it will feel eerie.
But here’s what we can do: we can introduce them to their Savior. We can do our most honorable jobs as moms and show them how Jesus changes hearts. This is, really, the only honorable lesson that will make a difference.
Yes, I’m turning into my mother. Yes, my daughters will probably turn into me. Your kids are turning into you.
But that’s okay because God is changing our hearts all the time. He is teaching the next generation important lessons of grace and how to love each other like He wants us to. Living as an honorable mom means living out those lessons as the Holy Spirit keeps turning our dying hearts into thriving ones.
Your Story & God's Story
- How do you see yourself turning into your mother and your kids turning into you? Where do you see God in this and what’s His command?
- When we try to raise kids independent from God, we do not raise the families He intended. As a mom, where have you ignored God? What happened?
- Knowing your kids are picking up so many of your habits, opinions, and mistakes can seem like an enormous amount of pressure and even guilt. How do you know God will give you strength for this? Read Isaiah 41:10, John 14:27, and Psalm 46:1–3.
- Read 2 Timothy 3:14–17 about Eunice and Lois. Although Lois was a devout believer (2 Timothy 1:5), her daughter, Eunice didn’t always honor her mother or God. We know that Lois’ son, Timothy, was not circumcised (Acts 16:1). This means Lois had married a Greek, a non-believer, and had listened to him about not following God’s important command of circumcision. But Timothy went on to become one of the greatest pastors in the early Christian church. Talk about how this shows the importance of sharing God’s truth with your kids and grandkids.
- Think about yourself as a mother and Luther’s words about this commandment. Share some ideas about how you can live so your kids can honor and obey you.
Prayer for Moms
Heavenly Father, You are my Example of perfect love. As a mom, I fail to show true love to my kids. Forgive me for the ways I mess up and help me to be an honorable mom by sharing Your love with the next generation. Help me to share Jesus and His love with my kids. In His redeeming name. Amen.