I know I'm not the only mom who has guilt. I'm pretty much an expert at it. I have guilt when one of my children gets hurt or sick. I have guilt when I see a glaring character issue in them (what am I doing wrong here?). I have guilt when someone gets too many mosquito bites or when someone doesn't sleep well. I have guilt when someone isn't able to understand a new math concept after two weeks of learning it. Surely it's something I did wrong. Perhaps I can even trace it back to their time in the womb. Yep, must have been that epidural.
We may have guilt because of the truth that usually children will not grow to be more mature than what is modeled for them, and many times our issues become their issues. If that isn't sobering I don't know what is. Therefore, I've found that sometimes guilt can be helpful. It can drive us to the Lord and will cause us to change areas that need to be changed in our lives.
- If I get angry and yell at my kids, then feel badly for it, well, that kind of guilt is good. It is conviction of sin on my part. I know I've done wrong and should confess that sin to my children and ask for their forgiveness.
- If there are character issues we see in our kids and we have guilt, then it may force us to evaluate what we are allowing into that child's life to influence them in that ungodly direction. Or even better, pray for them more.
- If a child gets hurt and I know I was surfing the Internet instead of watching my little ones closely, then yes, guilt because they were hurt can be helpful too.
But what about guilt a mom may have due to issues beyond her control?
For instance: What about guilt over certain aspects of their education? I have always wanted my daughters to learn to play the harp, but harp teachers in Smalltown, America aren't easy to come by.
Or how about guilt for not giving undivided attention to one child because there are 6 or 7 others...or guilt because they don't have 6 or 7 siblings to play with and they seem lonely?
How about not cooking with all-natural, organic ingredients or not providing private swim/horseback/karate (you fill in the blank) lessons because it has never been in the budget?
Whether it's not enough field trips or wishing you could give them the horse they've always dreamed of owning (even though you live in an apartment) there are ample opportunities to feel guilt. But this type of guilt is not good for anything except to make you discouraged and needlessly worry.
We all come from different places in our lives. Feeling guilty for not providing for our children in areas that are beyond our control can lead to discontent, discouragement and fear. We have to live the lives God has ordained for us to live, and not compare ourselves to others believing that because of our inadequacies as mothers, our children don't have all they should. Sometimes, the Lord has set these boundaries or circumstances in place for reasons we will never know. But He is faithful and we can trust Him.
When we're doing all we can and diligently working to train our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, our children have all that God has ordained for them to have. He is using what they have AND what they don't have, to shape them into who He wants them to be. He knew exactly which parents He was giving them to--along with their failures, home size and location, financial state and specific areas of strengths and weaknesses. We must do all we can within the framework God has placed us in, but comparing to others and thereby having guilt over things beyond our control, is not helpful guilt and should be categorized into thoughts that should be taken captive to the obedience of Christ.
The only "good" kind of guilt will drive us to a desire for Christ-likeness and a position before the throne of grace