I never had to think about finding confidence in being a friend, a daughter or a spouse, but for some reason, finding confidence when I assumed the role of a mother was a struggle in the beginning. I deeply understood that my children were 100% dependent upon me to provide for their needs. Talk about intimidating! Social media pressure, peer pressure and familial pressure are much smaller fish compared to the reality of the responsibility of parenthood. And now more than ever, we are aware that our parenting choices condition our children to a certain extent and have lasting effects on their development (thank you science and research). So, how have I found confidence in my parenting along the way? Well, it's a combination of things:
1. My confidence isn't in myself, but in God. I believe that my children are a gift from God, created by God for His purposes. My children are really God's children entrusted to me to nurture them in the wisdom and love of Him. I try my best, I pray for my kids and at the end of the day I know that God loves them even more than I do (I can hardly imagine that). That gives me so much peace.
2. I lean on God for wisdom in knowing my kids and what's best for them. There are many days where I feel like I don't know how to navigate my daughter's emotions or my son's health battles, but I believe that the discernment I have (that gut intuition) is really God guiding my heart and mind to the right decisions for my kids. There's nothing too small that I pray for either...from praying my kids would take naps to praying we would find the right doctors to choosing a school, I surrender it all. That, of course, doesn't mean I don't make a ton of mistakes because I sure make a lot of those. But I also know that when I make mistakes it's because I'm acting out of a bad place or not really thinking with wisdom. And, I also know that there is forgiveness and grace for me with the mistakes I made because of my beliefs. Knowing that makes me feel free and confident whereas aiming for perfectionism fills me with anxiety and fear.
3. I surround myself with encouraging mothers. I have dear friends with kids that are the same age as mine and women who are now grandmothers. They are all supportive and encouraging people that have been in my shoes, and that's a comfort. They don't judge me when I share my mistakes, but they also don't let me keep making them. They encourage me through it, and I do the same for them (at least I'd like to think so).
4. I set up boundaries with people that shame me for my choices. I'm always open to hearing feedback from people on other ways to approach problems or struggles. But, if I find people that continue to voice their opposing opinion over and over and over again in a shaming, passive aggressive or condescending way I set up a boundary. This has been a challenge for me, and I'm still trying to navigate it. Something that has helped is visualizing a rope surrounding me and creating a physical barrier that they cannot cross. The people that support me are on the inside of the circle and the others that don't are on the outside. Honestly, it helps me feel more free as I parent and make choices when I'm temped to people please.
5. I remember that no parent has it 100% figured out and every child is different. I have especially found this to be true after having a second child and realizing what worked for Elle doesn't always work for Levi. Just knowing that alone has made me take everything parents say with a grain of salt. What works for their kid isn't always what is going to work for mine. At the end of the day, I just have to do what works for my family.
6. If my kids make bad choices that doesn't mean I'm a bad parent. We cannot control our children. We can guide them the best that we can, but I cannot make Elle's choices for her. So, when she makes bad choices I try to remember the blame isn't all on me. Of course, I try to work with her on making the right ones for the future, but coming to this realization earlier than later is vital to holding confidence as a parent. I know many mothers that deal with toxic shame when their child has turned to drugs or made other unfortunate decisions, and that shame can eat at you far beyond confidence as a parent but as a person all together The only thing you can control is yourself. That's it. And all you can do is your best. That's it. Surrender the rest.
I would love to hear what has helped you find your confidence as a parent, and be sure to read thoughts from other mamas in this series: The Effortless Chic, Design for Mankind, A Daily Something; The Fresh Exchange, The Sweetest Occasion, Apartment 34, Oh Lovely Day, Design Addict Mom, The LIfe Styled
Photos by Rennai Hoefer