No, Your Child's Bad Choice Does Not Make You a Bad Mom

From the moment we meet our child — whether through birth or adoption — we get a front row seat to watch them grow. At times their behavior makes our hearts sing. Their first smiles. First steps. Watching their darling personalities emerge. Some things they do might invoke hysterical laughter, or a bout with serious sickness may bring out the most sympathetic feelings we have in our hearts. Each day that passes find us falling more and more in love with him. Then one day, our child may do or say something that causes us alarm. Even embarrassment or anger. Or it threatens to make us look like we don’t really know how to parent because his behavior is exasperating, not exemplary.

I remember bringing our first child home from the hospital. I had studied hard. Observed others. I just knew with enough hard work and diligent effort, I could figure it all out. I would apply all of the knowledge from the books I read and from the other mothers who seemed to be pros. All would go well.

Then came the first day we took our new baby to church. Instead of sweetly sleeping through the sermon, she began to cry. And boy, did that girl have a pair of lungs on her!

I had this nifty little equation cemented in my mind. It went like this: crying baby = bad mom. And this wasn't the only calculation I had tucked in my brain. There were also other things that pointed to a bad mom. A toddler throwing a tantrum. A bully on the kindergarten playground who pushed another child down. A preteen with an attitude who rolled her eyes at an adult and flippantly said, "What-evvvver" when asked to do something. A teen that broke the rules. Or broke the law. All of these things I felt could be traced directly back to the child having a bad mom.

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