I recently spent the day with one of my best friends from Texas. We laughed, ate homemade chocolate pound cake, and talked. As usual with moms, our conversation turned to our children. Both over 50, we have moved into the fabulous years of grandmotherhood. Our talk wasn’t a competition of how adorable our grandchildren are. (We don’t have to go there because they’re all adorable and we celebrate that!)
Instead we chatted about the challenges we face as moms.
And that’s when once again we were reminded of “The Big Mom Lie.” We have discussed it several times, wondering if we should be the ones who busted the lie wide open. It’s the lie that says, “One day it’s going to be so much easier.” The truth is it’s not much easier when our children become young adults. The challenges are different. The lie implies that once the children are over 18, being a mom is a snap. It becomes all about being best friends with our daughters, taking cute little selfless while doing 5Ks, or having bonding moments with our sons while doing some sport that requires goggles. The truth is, they are still our children and they still need us.
How do we navigate the tricky balance of truthfulness without dumping negativity and hopelessness on overwhelmed moms?
This mom lie is perpetuated because throughout the ages, moms of adults have not wanted to burst the bubble of hope that young moms cling to with desperation. The truth is the mom lie is easier than coming up with honest encouragement for moms who are struggling. Unfortunately, we all find ourselves giving cliché answers when asked hard questions from moms. But is it fair to give someone false hope that could lead to unrealistic expectations?
For example: I hesitate to tell pregnant women about the birth of my children because the deliveries were unusually quick and easy. I do not want to build up an unrealistic expectation of an hour and a half delivery! It’s more helpful to explain that each delivery is unique and no matter how long it lasts, labor is only one brief moment in time. We can endure anything for just one brief moment.
So how do we, as women’s ministry leaders, stop the madness of the mom lie and stop the false encouragement?
1. Decide to never give false hope to encourage young moms.
False encouragement is more harmful than helpful. Clichés are easily spotted and usually result in some eye rolling.
2. Pray for inspiration, wisdom, and guidance as you encourage moms.
Staying prayed up keeps us prepared to help moms in the best way.
3. Prepare and practice.
Develop a list of encouraging statements to use in future chats with moms. Being prepared makes giving encouragement more natural.
4. Ask more experienced moms what has encouraged them in the past.
Consider having moms write articles about their motherhood experiences to add to your women’s ministry blog, website, or newsletter.
5. Create opportunities for moms to encourage other moms.
Build into events segments of time for women to chat. At these events, have a list of questions on each table to encourage moms to talk about their challenges. Consider adding a weekly mom story to your small group time.
As my Texas friend and I talked, it became obvious that honest, open relationships with other moms and hours spent on our knees in prayer are what has gotten us through the tough days of motherhood in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Understanding how to encourage moms in today’s overwhelming world keeps us on our toes, but through honest encouragement, we can give moms the help they need as they take on the tough challenge of being a mom!
Dr. Deb Douglas is the minister to women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La., and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier, launched her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is also a freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised & Expanded. Deb graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts of Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and Jacob, and grandmother to Caroline.