Am I Messing Up My Kids?
Lysa TerKeurst

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:3 (NIV)

Okay, moms, let's get gut honest today. Have you ever had these thoughts tug at the corners of your mind: What have I done wrong? Am I messing up my kids?

I've had two in-depth conversations this week with friends and the same theme wove throughout both conversations. Our kids sometimes struggle and when they do, often our first thought is What have I done wrong as a mother? So many of us moms worry that we are somehow messing up our kids.

Certainly good can come from a healthy assessment of how we're doing in our crucial role as moms. However, when the question comes in the form of a personal assault rather than a call to action over a specific area of improvement - it's not healthy.

It's paralyzing. It's draining. It's defeating.

It's evidence of a hole in the spiritual filter of our mind.

My friend, Holly, and I have been doing something since the beginning of the year that has become an absolute delight to my day. I've been determined to fill my mind with the truth. I figure the more truth I have crowded into that tiny little space I call my mind, the more untruths will get crowded out.

So, we've been taking a book of the Bible and going through it slowly - reading one chapter a day. Then we discuss what spoke to us the most.

The other day, before my conversation with one of my friends, I read John 9. One verse jumped out at me and seemed to swirl in my thoughts constantly. John 9:3, "'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" The way this verse kept bumping into my conscious thoughts let me know it was crucial that I think on it - pray through it - and let it seep into some deep places needing this truth.

Later I was talking with my friend and heard little hints of that question - "What have I done wrong as a mother?"

What a delight it was to have that verse right on the top of my mind. Like a healing balm, I soothed my friend with the truth that what her son is going through right now has nothing to do with her mistakes or even his for that matter. God is helping her son work through some fears that will eventually be a mighty display of spiritual depth in his life.

Sweet sister, have you caught yourself asking lately "What have I done wrong as a mother?" Maybe, some adjustments need to be made.

Or maybe, this line of thinking should be redirected with a different question - "How might God work in this situation so that His work can be displayed in my child's life or in my life?" Either way, remember this truth - you are loved by God and so is your child!

Dear Lord, help me process my motherhood journey using the filter of Your truth and nothing else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog to take the “Motherhood guilt quiz” and learn practical ways to overcome this.

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Real Moms, Real Jesus by Jill Savage

If you are in the Dallas metro area, you're invited to be in the studio audience for the appearance of Lysa Terkeurst on the LIFE Today show with James & Betty Robison, Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free, but you must reserve your seat. Call 817-354-3655 or email The studios are located at 1801 West Euless Boulevard, Euless, Texas 76040. Lysa would love to see you there.

Application Steps:
Find a godly friend who can help you process your struggles with your child without condemnation. Ask this friend to spend some time praying with you and for you. Then offer to do the same with her. You'll know you've found the right friend to do this with when she's not afraid to admit she has some of the same struggles as you.

If you're having a hard time finding a friend who will be honest and vulnerable, ask God to bring this type of friend into your life. In the meantime, check out my blog. I think some of my motherhood stories will make you feel right at home. I'm in the trenches with you sister and I'd love to encourage you in your motherhood journey.

Is there something your child has struggled with lately that made you feel like you've done something wrong as his mother?

Prayerfully ask God if there is any thing you can do better as a mom. Also, ask Him to help you see all that you've done right as a mom and how to accept that some of your child's struggles have nothing to do with your actions at all.

Then, spend some time in prayer asking God how He is working in this situation.

Power Verses:
John 3:17, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (NIV)

2 Timothy 1:13-14, "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Sharon Sloan said...

Lysa: thank you for this "gut honest" devotion. Nothing has kept my heart before the Lord and my soul on my knees like motherhood. But by His grace...

Filling our hearts and minds with Truth! Amen! Our daughter gave me a journal (a re-gift I gave her, but given with enthusiasm and sincerity back to me) for Christmas. I wanted to use it for something special because she was so excited to give it (back) to me...wrapped so beautifully.

The Lord put it on my heart to use it as a Family Prayer Journal. As I go through His Word each day, I record any scripture in that journal that I want to lift up as prayers to Him. It's become my favorite journal. His Word, His Truth lifted up as prayers by this mommy for her family. He is faithful.

1 Chr. 22:19
"Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God..."

And I do pray daily that one day my kids won't end up on the Dr. Phil show for counselling! :)

Anonymous Jane said...

Thank you for your encouraging, truthful words! How timely they were for me!! Just last night my husband and I were discussing our kids, and I was having a "woe is me" type of moment. It's good to be reminded of the treasures we hold and it is God's purpose to shape and mold them - and I'm to follow His instructions rather than expect them to be how I determine.

Thank you again!!

Jane :)

Blogger Tressa & Mark said...

There are those moments when I think, "I may as well schedule my son for counseling at 16, because he is sure to blame me for messing up his life."

I needed this daily devotion today.

Thank you!

Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

Great devotion. You know, of all days, I was having these thoughts on Mother's Day. God has laid on my heart some areas of consistency and discipline I need to apply, but I don't believe he EVER wants me to roll around in guilt or remorse. Those fiery darts hit hard sometimes, but the Lord is able to protect me from them as I clothe myself in His Truth. What a confirmation I received today!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Motherhood never stops, I know they are all grown now, but sometimes it is harder now than it was when they were home and running around under my feet. Now is when I DO tend to say, "What did I do?", or "What didn't I do?".
Mother's Day was one of those days for me too! This devotion really hit home. The Lord has spoken thru you, to me. Thank you!

Your post came at a great time. Many of my friends, (and myself too, to be honest), have been so frustrated with parenting and the lack of "results". All efforts seem in vain and I see a lot of women beating themselves up and feeling desperate for the solution. Your post reminds me that we can't get so zeroed in on the moment. Once again an eternal perspective is required.

Anonymous Nicole said...

This devotion was such a blessing to me as in the past few days i have questioned my self in dealing with my oldest son who is only 6 years old. His real father is in "trouble with the police" as i tell my children. I told them what he did. My four year old daughter doesn't understand. She be-bops along with no problem. My son tells me he thinks about it a lot. He loves his real dad and I support that but he no longer can see the kids without supervision. i was afraid that me telling my son what his dad did has created in him a curiosity rather than him understanding that it is wrong. I am now going to pray that i can leave it in the Lord's hands trusting that he will work this out in my son for HIS glory. Thank you so much!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every scence my kids were little i have read books on how to raise kids, in cluding Dr. James Dobson book! still i sometime fell like a failure understatement to say the least!!!!However i am going to take your advice and believe God's word that he is in control. Please pray for me, THanks! ksn

ps thanks for the advice to look up scriptures on how to inprove your mothern skills!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in a place...looking at my 23 yr. old adult "child" who has cut us off. We set up rules for him for living in our home and he got angry. They weren't that out of line, helping out, working on his anger issues, paying rent.... Now he will not talk to me/us. It hurts to see this. We are not trying to be "mean" or bad how can it feel so much like that? I DO feel like a bad parent many times. Not just because we did this but because for so many years (out of ignorance) we just let this strong willed boy run our lives. It feels like our ignorance ruined him...but I have to keep remembering that God is bigger... I hope someone will pray for us...

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