When in doubt, just love them…

heart skyWelcome to Mom-Monday. I’m glad you’re here!

A few weeks ago, after I spoke to a group of moms, one of the women in the audience came up to me and shared some of the challenges she’d been going through with her twelve year old. Fighting tears, she told me she wasn’t sure how to handle his behavior.

I could tell she wanted to parent her son in the best way possible. But I could also tell she was questioning herself and doubting how she’d been handling things. (What mom hasn’t been there at one point or another?)

She talked, and I listened, and we hugged, and I told her that she was a good mom. I saw how concerned she was and how much she wanted to do the right thing.

I wished I had the “one answer” for her, but like so many parenting challenges, there wasn’t a cookie-cutter solution.

And even though I wasn’t able to give her anything more than a few suggestions of what I might do in her situation, I saw hope in her eyes when she left–the hope that comes from telling someone else your struggles.

And as I drove home that morning, I thought about some of the times I’ve been in the same place that woman was: grappling with how to handle a situation with my kids, wanting so badly to know the right answer.

And I thought about the advice one of my friends gave me a while ago about parenting:

“When in doubt, just love them.”

Just love them.

No matter how many books we read, or how many kids we raise, none of us has all the right answers all the time when it comes to parenting. Yes, there is much we can learn and yes, there are definitely things we should do and not do (I’m not saying take a wing-it approach to raising your kids).

But there is also grace in the journey.

And love.

And you shouldn’t beat yourself up about not being a perfect mom.

In fact, sometimes it’s not the big, intentional lessons we set out to teach our kids that make the biggest difference.

Often, it’s the small, everyday things…

I remember a while ago when my daughter Katie and I were out grocery shopping. She stopped in the parking lot and told me to wait a minute. Then she turned and ran in the opposite direction, a couple cars over. She bent down, picked up a piece of half-crumpled paper that was on the ground, and ran back over to me.

“Had to pick this up,” she said.

And I realized… those times I’ve stopped and picked litter up off the ground… she noticed.

Then, a couple days later, she and Luke went to the snack bar at the gym while I sat at a table nearby. I’d given them $5.00 to split a smoothie. When she came back and sat down, I asked her if she’d gotten any change.

She smiled and said, “Yeah, but I put in the tip jar.”

And again, I thought…she sees when I do that.

These weren’t lessons I deliberately set out to teach her.

They weren’t things I read about in books or learned in a parenting class.

They were things I just did.

And seeing her do them too was a reminder of how everyday things can impact our kids.

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.~Robert Fulghum

Okay, I know; they notice when we don’t handle things in the best way too. To be honest, sometimes I look at that quote by Fulghum and think…. the responsibility of being a mom. The pressure. And it reminds me of how hard we can be on ourselves sometimes. (It’s a lot to know our kids are always watching us, right?)

But sometimes, it’s our lack of perfection that can provide the biggest opportunities for teaching.

Here are some of my thoughts from my book Finding Mommy Bliss:

I’m the first to admit; I don’t always make the right decisions. And, like that day in Target with the Nerf gun, there have been times I’ve had to apologize and admit my mistakes to my kids.

But here’s the important thing: we don’t need to beat ourselves up. We need to learn from our mistakes and move on, striving to do better next time. I know my Target example is silly, but whatever mistakes you feel like you’ve made as a mom, forgive yourself.

Move on, try your best, and do it differently next time. Our kids can learn from our good examples and our mistakes. And when we are real and admit when we are wrong, they will see that we are human and that sometimes we mess up too.

And that kind of humility breeds grace, and bliss.

(You can read more about my Target story by downloading my book via the free Snippet app in the app store, but the point of what I’m saying is grace and love for yourself and your kids is often the better answer!)

And that’s what I wanted to pass on to you today–just a small reminder that we don’t have to be perfect moms and dads (is there such a thing?) to have a positive impact on our kids. :)

What about you? Are you being too hard on yourself as a parent right now? What are some things you’ve seen that have had a positive impact on your kids? Take a minute and share! 

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