3 Fads that are Killing Your Joy

       



        I’m already sweating when I pull into the parking spot. Not close enough to the store, but it will have to do. Four kids ages four and under – the big cart with a two-seater car attached to the front is my goal. Shoot, those are at the other grocery chain. Did I bring my stroller? Doesn’t matter, that wouldn’t help. Two carts or one? This store has narrow isles. One cart. Two can ride, two can walk.


       “Everybody out!” Why do I say that? No one can get unbuckled without me. 

        Everyone in diapers/underwear? Check. 

        Everyone have shoes on? Check. 

        Into the store, cram groceries around the toddler in the basket, make a beeline for the checkout. Stuff a cracker in each mouth, grab my wallet – oh. The wallet that’s sitting on the kitchen counter at home? Yeah, that one. 

        Fail.

       Sometimes the gap between my expectations for the day and what actually happens is huge. I look back at the end of the day and think, “What went wrong?” 

        Disappointment is natural. But when we base our joy on how we’ve measured up to our own expectations, something is off balance. “Was I a good mom today? How do I know?” It is a God-given drive to be the best mom you can be, but our calling becomes an idol if our joy depends on our performance.



        There are a host of factors out there waiting to help you determine if you’re a good mom. We have to be guarded. What is meant to help can actually be destructive to our joy. Three major fads in the mommy realm are ready to give you a grade. 

        Ready to see how you measure up?


#1 Blogs.


         In this modern age you don’t have to be judged by other moms face to face – you can be judged through your computer screen in the comfort of your own home. If you spend any length of time reading through mommy blogs, you are bound to come across the following:


– A picture of a sexy, fit mom who dropped the baby weight in 6 months and asks, “What’s your excuse?”

– 25 tips to starting a thriving home business – you know, so you don’t waste so much time.

– Every personal opinion on why you should or should not vaccinate your kids (often from people with absolutely no medical background).

– If you don’t breastfeed, your baby will not reach his maximum potential in life. Oh, and you will get breast cancer.

– How to make everything from scratch, from laundry soap to cheese so that your child has the most wholesome childhood experience.    

        Do you come away from blog-reading feeling inspired or guilty? We go to trusted blogs to get mommy advice. But when they stress us out we’ve made that subtle shift of allowing them to take our eyes off of Christ.  


#2 Nutrition. 


        Let’s be honest – the battle for nutrition has become downright enslaving to moms. Where you fall on the “good mommy” scale can be determined with just one question: How organic are you? We are not debating the merits of organic food here. We’re asking ourselves if our mom-identity should revolve around what we feed our kids. Does nutrition take you from “good mom” to “bad mom” and back again a million times a day? Should it? 

#3 Entertainment

       No argument here. The #1 way children are entertained today is through technology. Whether it’s a tablet, phone, TV, Leap Frog, or computer, moms are constantly struggling to determine how much is too much. And rightly so. It is a battle worth fighting. But being a “low tech” parent has become a much coveted label. The less you use, the better you feel about yourself as a mom. And vice versa. Do you look over your shoulder in the grocery store to make sure a friend doesn’t catch you handing over the iPhone to your screaming toddler? Are you afraid to admit to your peers that you let the kids watch a show on the 14-hour road trip? It’s easy to turn simple protection for our kids into bragging points when we’re around other moms.  

        If we’re not careful these fads will kill our joy. It is almost impossible to separate how we feel about ourselves from our performance. That’s when we go back to the cross and lay it all down. 

        “Lord, the kids had Lunchables for dinner. They played video games on the iPad so I could change the peed bedding. I can see from the blogs that all the other moms have their fall decorations up…except for me. I’m behind, I’m tired, I’m discouraged. But I am Your child. I wear the righteous robes of Your Son. When You see me You see Him. Jesus bought me peace with His blood. I won’t let it be taken away by failed expectations – mine, or others’.”


        Our kids need grace so much more than they need organic vegetables. If we’re not giving ourselves grace, how can we pass it on to them? 


        Charles Spurgeon said, “It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus, but it is Satan’s work to do just the opposite.” Fads will come and go but Jesus Christ stays the same. There is forgiveness and peace at the cross. So let’s put on our gospel-glasses before we read the next blog or make our weekly menu plan. In Christ we have peace instead of pressure, joy instead of judgement. Deep breath…dive into the week! 

        What fads do you notice in the Christian mom community? How do you think they help or hinder a gospel focus? 



Looking for a Bible study with practical, bite-sized theology for busy moms? Check out The Gospel-Centered Mom, now available on Amazon!! 


 

106 thoughts on “3 Fads that are Killing Your Joy

  1. The Homeschool Movement fad. It seems like everytime I go to kid events, the topic of whether or not to homeschool your kid comes up…like in the guilt of not doing it and sending them to public school.

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  2. Yolo, that is a GREAT one! I agree – homeschooling is a topic that shouldn't foster guilt or pride, but it often does. We should always see education as a way to point our kids towards Christ – not as a way of earning mommy brownie points.

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  3. I love this – and as Christian mom's we really need to support each other instead of getting caught up in the “Mommy Wars”. I love that you point out that these things are fads, and I'm so glad that I have a steadfast Lord.

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  4. Most of the time any “mommy-guilt” we feel is guilt we put on ourselves– no one puts it on us. We feel guilty bc we know we aren't perfect– and the answer isn't to stop worrying because no one's perfect, it's to run to Jesus because He loves us and He DIED for our imperfection. He takes our guilt and gives us grace, and we are then free to try and do better. We aim towards feeding our kids better, at using our time more wisely, etc. No one makes us take our eyes off Jesus or steals our joy. We do that ourselves.

    my guess is that many of those people that we knee-jerk label as “judging” are actually doing nothing of the sort. They are sharing what they've learned, what they think, what they know, and it's for our good. We may be doing the best we can, but we can always do better. We are called to keep repenting and keep doing better until we die and are finally perfected! True humility (“blessed self-forgetfulness” as one pastor puts it) has us rejoicing that some moms do have it more together than us, or have certain strengths we lack, instead of being jealous, wallowing in self-recrimination, or putting them down.

    For ex. It's an objective fact that most people over a certain height & weight don't make it into the Marine Special Forces. They just don't. So a guy who aspires to do that can do some things to help himself– conditioning, weight training, etc. He can be the best he can be. But if in the end he just isn't quite as good as the guy 1″ shorter, there's not much he can do about it. Should he feel guilty he isn't shorter? Well, no. Should he whine that people make him feel guilty when they say taller Marines don't fare as well? No… He just accepts that he isn't the perfect body type and either keeps trying or moves on! So it is with objective facts like breast feeding being better for moms and babies. It's true. No denying it. If you can't do it for whatever reason that doesn't change the fact that it would be ideal– but that doesn't nes. mean guilt! Or knowing that organic IS better for kids and sugar IS harmful. Those are facts. So we do the best we can with what we have and we try to do better, but we also can accept our limitiations without guilt AND still admit that we are falling short of an ideal. Hope that makes sense– I've been thinking about it a lot.

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  5. Eowyn, that's an excellent point. Admitting we fall short of an ideal doesn't mean wallowing in failure. It keeps us from being complacent. We want to be faithful with what God has given us by doing our best – all the while reaching for the true prize which is Jesus Himself. We will never be disappointed if He is our ultimate goal. Thanks for your insightful comments!

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  6. When I started to blog and create my business, the only place where I was failing was Galatians 6:4

    “Pay careful attention to your own work for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

    I love your blog post. Thank you for sharing truth!

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  7. Good thoughts, definitely. I just wanted to put this out there, in case other moms read it. “Organic is better” is actually a myth. There are tons of other sources that confirm this, but here are a few: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2012/09/24/pesticides-food-fears/

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2012/09/04/organic-food-vs-conventional-food/

    http://www.biofortified.org/2013/05/dirty-dozen/

    It's worth it for moms to know that. They don't have to be stressing over paying inordinate amounts of money for organic foods, because they really aren't better. If anything, go by the “buy local” maxim, not organic.

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  8. Well said! I've struggled with this tension in avoiding the “mommy wars” but also having strong convictions. Some people try to resolve it by just saying whatever you do as a parent, it's okay! This is different than, it's realizing it's okay to have strong convictions and fall short! We need to find our joy in Christ, not in our efforts! Love the quote in the post: “If we're not giving ourselves grace, how can we pass it on to them?” Grace is about finding peace when we fall short, not removing the requirement!

    But, Eowyn, you said it much better pointing out that we put the guilt on ourselves. If we have a strong conviction that cloth diapers are good for the environment, but just can't work it into our routine, we need accept it and find our joy in Christ. We certainly aren't “bad moms” for focusing our energy somewhere else. However, we must be care to not judge moms who do cloth diapering as being “judgmental” if they feel a sense of joy in their efforts and commitment to cloth diapering—but we feel guilt. I think this applies to the homeschooling comment. Some people do hold a strong conviction about home schooling vs. public school. But holding a strong conviction and expressing it isn’t the heart of the issue! The heart of the issue is exactly what you said: it’s holding on to the guilt rather than embracing God as our source.

    Of course, I can’t say I do this perfectly. But I struggle with the idea that parents can’t strive for the best for their kids without being considered judgmental by other moms.

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  9. Yes! Thanks! I am middle-of-the-road and want great things for my kids. I don't want to be a bogged down mom or add more guilt. We have one life and life here is not what matters eternally. I pray a lot, ask for forgiveness-from God and my kids-and keep on truckin'! Thank you!

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  10. I had a friend who was a non-believer but seeking and she said she became so discouraged when she tried to read Christian mom blogs because of these “mommy wars”. I think it is important to do what we think is best for our families, what is most loving. In my case, bottle-feeding and disposable diapers made me a more loving mommy. Scheduled feeding and homeschooling works best for us. But in all things we must remember there is freedom in Christ and the only things that really matter are the eternal things. I have watched mom's do things completely different than I EVER would and their kids matured beautifully and loved Jesus! The “right” thing is what is most loving and God-honoring. We must make the choices that have the best eternal outcomes and let the temporary things take backseat to love and grace.

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  11. Such a great blog post!! It's so easy to get caught up in all the external things and get our focus off the internal. Love the sentence about our kids getting more grace than organic food. Amen!!!

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  12. I hope you don't mind I shared this on my Heaven Not Harvard Facebook page. Thank you for #2 especially. I've almost gotten to the point that I feel like I'm feeding my daughter various levels of poison every meal. I need to cut myself a break. Honestly, I don't think you can even eat clean enough any more. Letting fears and anxiety about food take away from our identity in Christ or interfere with our witness is ridiculous. That was a really good way to put it. I absolutely agree that we need to be better toward each other as mothers as well. I wrote about a similar subject not too long ago. I think our goal needs to be to point our kids toward God, if we're doing that, the rest will solve itself or isn't truly important.
    http://heavennotharvard.com/2014/07/30/winning-the-mommy-wars/

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  13. Thank you. I'm a first time mom and have been feeling so guilty that I've been formula feeding.. it wasn't my first choice either but my body chose it for me. I've been running myself ragged taking gross supplements, eating gross “milk. Boosting” foods and pumping all the time for a lousy two ounces a day. All I hear in my head is.. well you know exclusively breastfed infants for the first 6 monthes are more intelligent! Today, I'd rather love on that formula fed little peanut than spend my day running ragged. Thank you! And guess what… I'm okay if he doesn't get in to Harvard. I'm more concerned that he gets into heaven.. and I don't think breastfeeding has anything to do with that!

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  14. I'm much less sugar coated about things. If you don't like the way I'm raising my kids, take them and care for them yourself and while you're at it, pay my bills, do my job, and clean my house, please my spouse…you get my drift. If you're not doing all of those things, I couldn't care LESS about what you think I'm doing. If Jesus is okay with me and mine, I'm okay too.

    (Obvious exceptions: If someone is abusing their kids or not feeding them or something, THEN speak up.)

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  15. Carrie, citing blog posts and news article posts is not a reliable way to support information. There is a lot of evidence from peer reviewed scientific journals that indicates that organic foods DO in fact cause less harm. I'm a registered dietitian (and a mom!) I agree with the above that eating organic and breastfeeding are better for you. These are facts. Should this cause jealousy when one misses the mark? No. We're human.

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  16. This is amazing. Thank you for sharing. Reading those blogs and seeing the pins on pinterest can actually make you more discouraged as a mom, than encouraged! Get off the computer and hang out with your kiddos! Read the Bible with them! Pray with them! Then they'll see that is what's important to you, and hopefully make those things a priority in their own lives.

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  17. Whew! For heaven sakes, mommies!! Turn off the electronics, and just live life!! There are real people out there that need Jesus while you sit with your face turned into a screen. Maybe, just maybe if you stop the virtual mommy wars you could share a real smile or kind word to someone with real needs today, and shine for Jesus instead of selfies on the screen. Preaching to myself.

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  18. I loved the line “It is a God-given drive to be the best mom you can be, but our calling becomes an idol if our joy depends on our performance.” The problem is not blogs. The problem is not passionate moms sharing information about nutrition. The problem is our reaction. And the solution is not to lower the standard, not to claim processed food is just as good as organic, formula is just as good as breastmilk, etc. The gospel is the solution, but please don't think the gospel somehow says “nutrition doesn't matter”. The gospel means we are freed to admit we have fallen short of the ideal without living under a weight of guilt. The gospel allows me to celebrate with the mom that was able to birth naturally, even though I have had two c-sections. The gospel allows me to be happy for the mom that exclusively breastfed for 18 months even while I had to supplement with formula. The gospel allows me to admit cloth diapering would be a better way to steward God's creation while not feeling weighed down by guilt that I used disposables. The gospel allows me to stop comparing myself to other women who are doing a better job and instead love them and humbly learn from them to do better.

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  19. I like this blog but for me personally on the food subject I sometimes feel that when out bodies are the temple we must put healthy food in our bodies. Now I can't always afford gmo free and organic food. However I do feel that we shouldn't be putting junk in our temples.

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  20. Great post….. I just finished reading this book 'Good News for Weary Women' by Elyse Fitzpatrick and highly recommend it! She really hits at the heart of what we cling to as Christian women — and what we should be clinging to instead. Here's a link: http://amzn.to/ZaBKQ2

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  21. I know it's already been mentioned, but homeschool, Christian school, or public school choice is quite the fad. 100 years ago, no one sent their children to “Christian” school, then just 20-30 years ago, no one homeschooled their kids…and now look at Christian society. If you send your kids to public school, you might as well be committing a “Christian” crime. Yes, I speak tongue in chic, but seriously….education is just another way to get a mother down about the choices she makes for her family.

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  22. Calling it a fad doesn't imply it is easy. Just that it's popular today and leaves those who don't home school feeling like they are not good parents.

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  23. Even in reading through the comments I shudder to see how much we need to give each other grace. Grace to live, to breathe, to learn, to try… grace that we ourselves need so desperately. No one is perfect. Let someone fail and pray for them. I fail. Everyone will fail you. Christ is our only hope and rock in this weary world. Pride, my pride so often rears it's ugly head. Today I will give grace because I need it too.

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  24. I used to feel all sorts of guilt over all of these things. Then I got cancer and my priorities changed from organic meals and pin worthy bday parties to just being there for and with my babies and listening to God's word and praying that he would lead me to be the parent He wants me to be. Life is too short to stress about homemade laundry detergent. 🙂

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  25. I too struggle with the organic, gluten free, dairy free, no white sugar, the list goes on….Some have dietary resrictions and allergies, etc..but others do it just to fit in. Fit in or be left out?….

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  26. Thank you EVER SO MUCH for this! Cried my way through the last several paragraphs. It touched me because I have been there in a bad way lately… condemning myself over and over again. But if God, who called me to be a mom, according to HIS purpose, works everything for my good, than who can stand against me? And who can condemn me? No one. Nothing can separate me from his love. Not even a rotting bowl of lettuce crawling with maggots. (ahem.)

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  27. I homeschool my kids, but I'm not offended by your comment – I know exactly what you mean. I know there are those that believe every Christian family should homeschool their kids, or even that every family should. I personally believe that God gives each family a different calling and I am no 'better' than someone who is called to dive into the public school system and reach the kids, teachers, and parents there for Christ! Don't ever feel guilt for living out the calling God has placed on you and your family!!

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  28. Very nice reply, Carrie, it embodies the spirit of this very well written article. Thank you. Home schooling is trendy right now. I'm sure it is an insanely tough job. That does not change the fact that it is popular.

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  29. I totally agree on the blog thing! I'm not a mom, but I am teacher. I had to be especially careful my first two years (and even now), only to look for specific things on blogs, and if I started getting jealous, either quit or read the teacher bio, to remind myself that these were long time teachers. It isn't the normal person who makes amazing blogs, it's the exceptions. I should look for all the stuff that isn't there, and remind myself that they are the “normal” way to be! Otherwise, it's too easy to start comparing myself to what is a high bar for the average person.

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  30. So, homeschooling is not trendy. It's been around for a very, very long time. I was homeschooled long ago. 🙂 Unfortunately, even within the homeschooling community there are joy-killers. It's hard to escape, but I think that is the point. We have to learn to look to God rather than any of these other things.

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  31. I never had children (health issues) and I am 51 years old. I helped raise the kids in the village. I was the Village Aunt. You Moms of today, when did it become everyone else”s business how you raise your children? God is the only one who should matter. Give your little ones to Him, love them and raise them according to His Word, and pray for wisdom to guide them to adulthood. I hear they grow up so fast…don”t let the self-imposed guilt of the non existing perfect Mom syndrome spoil one moment of your joy! Let me be the first to tell you, you are all wonderful parents, and God loves you just the way you are!!

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  32. Thank you, Brenners! You are not alone. God made you a mom because He will get the most glory that way. Be sure to check out the post “A Perfect Mom Can't Share the Gospel.” Be encouraged!

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  33. I'm on my 14th year homeschooling and I get what she's saying. It doesn't matter if she calls it a fad or not, we ask know it can be a biggie in the mommy wars. I try very hard with some success to really try to give people the benefit of the doubt and also look at what they are trying to communicate rather than grabbing onto a word or phrase that doesn't strike me just right. Give some grace, isn't that what this lovely post is about anyway?

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