There is nothing like motherhood to make even the strongest, most successful, well-educated woman feel inadequate and clueless at times. That’s because there is nothing on Earth that can fully prepare a mom to raise a child of her own. Sure, having a teenage babysitting gig or growing up with a younger sibling might offer a glimpse into what it takes, but it’s not until a mom is blessed with the ultimate gift of a son or daughter that the reality of awesome responsibility is felt.
Motherhood keeps us on our toes both literally and figuratively. Every child and every situation is so unique, chances are, we’ll all lose confidence one time or another. But the farther we fall into the pit of uncertainty, the messier our parenting can become. The trick is to embrace a Can Do attitude. We don’t have to know all the answers. We just have to be willing to try new approaches and make mistakes, ultimately finding what works best for our family. Sure, that may be easier said than done, especially if we try to go it alone.
The amazing news is none of us have to go it alone. Ever.
Our greatest source of strength can be found in God. All we have to do is ask. (A simple “Lord, please help me” will do!) Truth be told, it’s not always been easy for Li’l Ms Independent me to remember this, but I have learned to rely on the Lord, particularly when fear and frustration try to worm their way into my parenting. And the more I lean on Him for my strength, the more confident I become…and the less often I mess up.
Here are some other lessons I’ve learned (often the hard way) about confidence in parenting.
Weak Mom – Strong Mom:
When my confidence level is low I tend to yell at my kids to try to prove I’m in charge.
When my kids don’t want to listen to a thing I have to say or honor a request I’ve made a zillion times, I start to question my authority. To reestablish power, I yell. Ironically, as soon as I begin yelling, my kids roll their eyes and mutter to each other, “Mom’s losing it again.” And of course that does wonders for my already floundering ego.
A more confident approach:
When I take a deep breath and speak in a firm but quiet voice, my kids actually listen to me and take me seriously. There may be a storm brewing in my gut, but my calm outward appearance says, “Hey, I’m serious here. Let’s talk.”
Sometimes it takes every fiber in my being to keep my adrenaline floodgates closed. But it’s just like pacing in a race. Instead of sprinting out of the gate and dying before Mile 1, I find a consistent speed that will take me all the way to the finish line.
When my confidence level is low, I may tell my kids “yes” when I should say “no.”
Let’s face it, who likes to be the bad guy? It takes confidence to tell my child he is NOT allowed to watch the latest rated R movie that ALL his friends are seeing. When confidence is too weak to say, “No,” Mommy Guilt muscles in to say, “Yes.”
A more confident approach:
When I lovingly but firmly give solid explanations for banning a movie in our house, my kids seem more receptive to my decision. I empathize with their frustration in being the only kids on the planet who are not allowed to see it, and I recognize that my verdict isn’t going to be liked. But when I state my reasons confidently, and I show a little love, I preserve our relationship without sacrificing my better judgment.
Mommy Guilt has the power to plant doubt in my decision making ability by tugging on my emotional heartstrings. But when I choose to ignore its lies and hold firmly to truth based in sound reasoning, I’m able to set healthy boundaries without unraveling.
When my confidence level is low, I’m more likely to not follow through.
When kids make bad choices, they need to be held accountable for their actions. Parents make great accountants when they have the confidence to do the job. Let’s say my son’s excessive cell phone usage leads him to losing phone privileges for a week, but three days into the ban, I cave into his pleading puppy-dog eyes, and give the phone back. What does this teach?
That his mom loves him soooo much?
That his mom is a big softie, can be manipulated, and really isn’t that serious about accountability?
A more confident approach:
When I love my child through the consequence without giving in, it’s like a spoon full of sugar helping the medicine go down. I try to say something like this:
“I know it stinks to lose your phone for the week. I don’t like taking it away. Next Monday you may have it back, and I bet you’ll never exceed your data usage again.”
If the begging continues, I simply say, “You will have your phone back Monday. But if the begging continues, I will add another week.”
Once I see a look of resignation on my child’s face, I say, “Thank you.” Then I redirect to something more pleasant by offering a snack or asking who won last night’s basketball game. Belaboring the point is like sprinkling salt on the wound. There’s no benefit in that.
The trick is to clearly identify the target that’s being set, lock it in, and keep your eyes on that milestone until it has been accomplished. When our eyes are set firmly on a goal, it’s much harder to be led astray.
It takes guts to be an effective mom. Luckily, confidence is something that can be learned and strengthened over time. So get out there, pace yourself, push thoughts of doubt away, and keep your eyes focused on the Finish. You CAN do this!
I’m cheering for you!
Question: What gives you the confidence to make tough choices or face challenging days? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here.