The Fear of Parenting Wrong
To be the mother of a son is not for the faint of heart. I remember when my son was born. Looking into his little face, the feelings within me were somehow different from four years earlier when I had given birth to my daughter. I felt so inadequate as I weighed the responsibility of molding this baby into a man. Up to this point raising a girl had not been a difficult challenge. It was clear that she was like me, with all the love for being a girl that she could express. She loved shoes and colorful bows for her hair. She was extremely social and adored her friends. And her daddy? Oh, she loved her daddy. Yes, relating to her had been no problem at all. Yet now in my arms, I was holding a helpless baby boy who would grow into a man. Honestly, even changing his diaper was intimidating with his recently circumcised appendage.
I remember thinking…
I cannot imagine that soft little face one-day having whiskers. As I studied his hands so tiny and fragile, I thought of how they may one day be rough and calloused like his father’s.
When you gave birth to your son, did you find yourself imagining what kind of man he might become? When it came to my son, I did not want to raise a momma’s boy, yet I wanted to be his protector. I did not want him to be rough and reckless, but I did want him to be strong. I wanted him to become a wonderful, godly man like his father. As I took the little guy home and he began to develop his personality I found my parenting overshadowed with fear of doing it wrong. I gradually developed a sort of reactionary mode–he acted and I reacted. Rather than following a clear path toward shaping his life, the fear of what I did not want my son to become my standard. I was merely putting out fires rather than kindling the flames of my son’s character.
My husband and I had always wanted our home to be a place of peace, and yet I found, in reality, it had become a chaotic environment ruled by my emotions. Because I did not want to disappoint my husband, I did not let him know how much I was struggling. The day my daughter said to me, “I know you can’t wait until we are grown up so that you can do whatever you want” was the day that I knew I needed to get some help. It broke my heart that I had given her that notion. I loved being a mother; it was what I wanted to do. Yet in my harried frustration that was not at all the impression, I had given my sweet little girl.
Feeling even more inadequate and alone, I began to read books about parenting, from which I compiled a sort of how-to list. I soon discovered that the list did not have the power to change me. It became a burdensome reminder of the standard to which I was unable to measure up. I lacked fortitude for this new adventure. I needed to become a kind, courageous, and confident mother if I was ever going to raise kind, courageous, confident children. To be a godly mother required strength. Where would I find the direction I so desperately longed for?
I NEED HELP, LORD!
Reading books had given me some basic ground rules for this new playing field, but I also wanted to learn from real-life examples. My mother-in-law, who had raised two wonderful sons, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and was no longer the vibrant help she had been when my daughter was born. The young mothers I knew seemed no more prepared for raising a son than I was. I had no idea how to ask God for what I needed. I felt alone and desperate for answers. I’ve since learned that one of God’s favorite prayers is not that of the eloquent orator but of the simple cry for help flowing from a humble and desperate heart. I was both humbled and desperate as I uttered the simple prayer, “I need help, Lord.”
God graciously answered my prayer by bringing several older, godly women into my life. I am now 50 years old, and I have to laugh at how old they seemed to me when I was in my twenties. These women were not scholars or trained in child development. As mothers of sons, they had traveled down this path ahead of me. They had insights and understanding into what I was experiencing. Their lives had not been perfect or free from trials. They were genuine, precious, and vulnerable as they taught me what God had taught them. When I shared my struggles I did not feel judged; rather, I felt loved.
Titus 2:4 instructs older women to admonish younger women how to love their husbands and their children and this group of women wholeheartedly obeyed that command.
Of all the friendships I have had, the relationships that developed with these women have by far been the most pivotal in my life.
They taught me not only how to parent, but how to become the woman God wanted me to become. In writing this book, my heart’s desire is to be an older woman God can use to pour courage and confidence into you, just as those women did for me.
*Excerpt: Stoppe, If My Husband Would Change I’d Be Happy (Harvest House Publishers).
Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than 30 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets.
Rhonda Stoppe’s book MOMS RAISING SONS TO BE MEN is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book IF MY HUSBAND WOULD CHANGE I’D BE HAPPY-And Other Myths Wives Believe (Harvest House Publishers) is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages. As a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author, Rhonda has helped women to:
* Discover significance and
LISTEN TO THIS RADIO EXCERPT of Rhonda Stoppe on “The Road Show” with Host Laurette Willis: “Exchanging Your Dreams for God’s Plans”