Dear MOB Society,My sons are “all boy” and when we get together with some of our family members and friends, their social skills and manners are less than perfect. I have a hard time with the scrutiny I get from people. My in-laws think I’m a bad mom. They don’t say so, but I can feel their judgmental spirit. How do I get past this? I almost would rather stay home, but I’m not sure if that’s the right path to take. Can you help?
Dear Embarrassed Mom,
Oh BOY, can I relate! Did you hear about the time one of my boys, at age 2, greeted a little girl we had invited over for dinner with a ninja kick? Yeah, that didn’t go over so well. Rough housing may be his love language, but she didn’t get the message. And her parents have never gotten over it either. And then there was the time that one of my sons decided to gather the dog poop in the back yard at a friend’s house and present it to us in the living room. Sigh.
What’s an embarrassed mom to do? Or a mom with a bit of a fracture in her heart because others don’t understand her “testoster-home” as I like to call my own boy-filled house-hold?
1. Don’t Measure By Moments
Your worth as a mother is not based on moments. It’s based on the fruit of an entire childhood of training and praying and nurturing. God describes it like this:
Fix these words of mind in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 11:18-20
That sounds a lot like many moments strung together over the course of a childhood, doesn’t it? If you have the heart of a mother who loves her sons, prays for them, cares for their needs, and is training them in the things of the Lord, then guess what? You are a good mom! Your value is not based on what someone sees over the course of certain moments-especially the moments when your son or you may fail. And your child’s value is not based on those opinions or moments either!
2. Immature Kids Mean Immature Behavior
Kids act like kids. I know, profound. But seriously!
I’m not excusing sinful behavior-that certainly needs to be dealt with in a loving and patient way, but I have found that the times in the past when I was most embarrassed were not because my sons were being outright naughty, but that they were behaving immaturely. My son was curious about dog poop. We had recently started potty-training, for Pete’s sake! He wasn’t trying to create havoc. He was simply immature. For a 3-year-old, it seemed like a good idea to share that discovery with the rest of us. Paul makes the comparison of his spiritual walk in I Corinthians but the logic applies here:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~I Corinthians 13:11
Be careful to evaluate what is immaturity or curiosity as opposed to willful disobedience. My oldest is only 6 but I know that the immaturity of a ten-year-old or fifteen-year-old will hold its own fun surprises for me in the future. Don’t be ashamed of a boy’s adventurous spirit-foster it and guide it. Sometimes those teachable moments will happen at a friend’s house. So be it. And about that willful disobedience? I’m convinced that grace goes a long way there too.
3. Give Them An Olive Branch
The old saying goes that extending an olive branch is symbolic of making a peace-offering. And you might need to show up to your in-laws house the next day with an “olive branch” that looks a little more like a loaf of pumpkin bread, or a new lamp, but it will be in your best interest to be a peacemaker-not because you are ashamed, but as a means of showing sensitivity to others. Even if they don’t give you that same benefit. God says it like this:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ~Romans 12:18
As Christian moms and dads, we want our sons to grow up and be men of strength. True strength is found in humility. When we model a humble spirit that seeks to create peace with others and to be generous in our own attitudes, especially to those who we feel are disapproving of us, we are emulating the character of Christ. Pray it out with God. Tell Him how you are feeling. Thank Him for granting you peace with Himself who was once His enemy and then go and do the right thing. That may not mean showing up on their doorstep or making a phone call, it may simply mean offering forgiveness in your heart or overlooking an offense. Love covers a multitude of sins!
In case you already forgot, let me say it again. You are a good mom! None of us is perfect. God placed you in that role with the exact children you have for His good purpose. No other mom would suffice. Remember that 4 year olds are 4 year olds who will act like 4 year olds and give them room to mature. Don’t hide away from the world, use it as a place to learn and grow both for you and your sons. And when scrutiny comes, be the first to make peace and give the benefit of the doubt. There is no shame in that!
Amber Lia (Recovering Embarrassed Mom)
This post is part of our first series of 2014, Hope for the Messiness of Motherhood. Find all of the posts in this series here.