Making mothers feel guilty is the easiest thing in the world, according to my husband. Wall Street Journal (WSJ) readers agreed when “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” by Amy Chua, generated more online comments than any other article in WSJ.com history. Many perceived Ms. Chua as saying that a mother who fails to parent her child in the right way will have disastrous results. For example, play dates and TV corrupt a child while hours of music and math practice guarantee success. Ayelet Waldman’s rebuttal article, “In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom” is an example of the backlash.
Women in ministry are not immune to mother guilt. We might have more because of the pressure to be a perfect Christian example in all that we do. In a recent discussion with a fellow pastor’s wife, she conveyed that she struggles to give equal attention to each of her children. Compounding the problem is the fact that she thought she would be rid of the guilt once they grew older and more independent. Then, hearing of all that she did for her children made me feel guilty, too.
What can we learn from this?
• We ministry moms are carrying around a lot of unnecessary guilt. Partly, we have these feelings because some of what we want for our children is not what God wants. Do we want them to sit still in church so that others will think well of us? Do try to give our children opportunities that a ministry salary cannot afford? Our motives are mixed. See "God's Family and Yours."
• Even with God-centered goals, the path is not always easy. God’s plan for our child in Proverbs 22:6 seems simple (train a child), unique (this child), and void of details (What’s the best way?). So, we need to rely on Him. We need to pray for our children. Moms need prayer, too. Lots of it.
• Godly moms want to know that their child rearing ministry is not in vain. I know from experience that our task is physically and emotionally exhausting and sometimes seems not worth it. Children don’t always follow God’s voice. But, the Proverbs verse has a promise. “Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
• God knows us. He wants to help us in this endeavor called mothering. And, He gives promises to those He loves.
In the words a popular Christian song, I encourage you to say to yourself, "Arise my soul, arise. Shake off those guilty fears and rise."