Are You a Mean Mom?

Redbook Mag

Redbook Mag

Godly parenting without the competitiveness.

As a young woman, I never viewed motherhood as a competition. To me, motherhood was just something that had to be done and prayerfully, by the grace of God, you did it right. I did recognize as a teen that when mothers got together, they’d swap ideas on what worked and what didn’t work. I remember my mother and aunt going back and forth about discipline. My aunt believed she’d mastered disciplining kids while my mother felt like an underachiever. I knew my aunt’s persistence about her techniques annoyed my mother, but I didn’t realize to what extent until I had children.

I felt the pressure of competitive mothering after I had my first child. It started with the simple exchange of ideas and suggestions. Whenever I went to the kiddie gym or playground, the mothers would gravitate towards one another and talk about breastfeeding techniques, bedtime routines, and potty training. However, somewhere between talking about the best breast pump to buy, one mother always emerged as the expert and the other mothers became her students. This mother believed she nailed parenting—even though she only had one child and the baby was six months old.

I call these kinds of moms “Mean Moms” because they judge other mothers who parent differently, and they place unnecessary pressure on other women to parent the way they would. These are the moms who gasp and make negative comments when they find out you’re sending your child to public school or you allow your children to watch more than one hour of television a day. You know the ones. They judge you if you feed your family Chick-fil-a instead of a home-cooked meal. There are articles all over the internet about mean moms (See here and here).

By now, everyone has probably seen or heard about the movie Mean Girls. In the movie, there was a group of girls who bullied everyone in their school. In the same way, there is a group of mean moms who emerge in every parenting group. However, as believers, God doesn’t want us to be mean moms. He wants us to be godly moms. Here are a few reasons why.

Mean moms harm more than they help.

Titus 2:3–4 (NRSV) says, “Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.”

If we become mean moms, we will destroy the confidence and self-esteem in other mothers. No one will come to us for guidance or advice because of our negative and judgmental spirit. God wants believers to feel empowered to parent the children He’s blessed us with. Mean moms strip other mothers of that power. He also wants older mothers to help the younger ones. New moms don’t need our judgment. They need help and encouragement. They are the work of Christ and we destroy the work and turn others away from Him when we don’t check our attitudes and motives.

Mean moms operate in a judgmental spirit.

A judgmental spirit is at enmity with God because it originates in the flesh (Romans 8:7). Matthew 7:1-5 warns believers about judging one another. Verse 2 says we will be judged by the measure we judge. Giving birth doesn’t automatically make you an expert on parenting and everything doesn’t work for every child. No one can position themselves as a parenting expert unless they are Dr. Shefali or someone similar. We are all learning and parenting by the grace of God. None of us are in a position to judge another mother’s techniques or parenting style.

Mean moms ignore the Spirit at work in the lives of others.

Ephesians 4:7 (NRSV) says, “But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

If we become mean moms, we fail to recognize the Lord at work in the lives of other moms. We’ve all been given grace to do that which God calls us to do. This even applies to parenting. The same Spirit that works in you is the same Spirit that works in other Christian moms. You don’t have to put other moms down if they don’t parent the same way you do.

Also, each of us operates in our own unique gift (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). You may parent a particular way because of your spiritual gift. Another mom may have a different gift. Don’t automatically assume another woman’s parenting style is wrong because it looks different.

Mean moms leave out the grace of God.

Oftentimes, people say children don’t come with instruction manuals. However, I beg to differ. Everything we need to raise godly children is in the Word of God. We only have to be open to receive. Parenting is hard work and can be compared to a thorn sometimes. However, just as God said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, His grace is sufficient for us. We don’t have to be puffed up and haughty about the way we parent. If you’ve discovered a technique that works, then all glory goes to God because every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Don’t be a mean mom. Extend to others the same grace God extends to you! Your children and the mothers watching you will be better for it.

Lauren Jones (@revlaurelj) is an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves in the Columbia, SC metropolitan area. As a widow, she balances ministry and motherhood to two rambunctious children. She blogs about her adventures at www.throwupandtheology.com. When she’s not preaching, writing, or changing diapers, she raises awareness about epilepsy and the devastating effects of drunk driving as a volunteer speaker for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She self-published “I’m Singing This Song to You,” a letter to her children in honor of her late husband available for purchase on Amazon.

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