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? Maybe a lot of us moms have this 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 when I was talking with a friend, there were 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 am I doing wrong as a mother?" Maybe, some adjustments do need to 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 request prayer for your specific motherhood situation right now. Lysa will be praying over every request submitted on her blog today. Click here to get to Lysa’s blog and follow the prompts to leave a prayer request.

Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa TerKeurst

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

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 anything 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)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Jennifer said...

My son recently got into trouble at school and my husband and I have questioned where we have failed.
I just called my husband over so he could read your column as well.
We *both* needed to read this, especially today.
Thank you!

Anonymous Michelle said...

I sit here crying as I read the devotional today. It amazes me how God knows what we need exactly when we need it. My 3 year old is strong willed and I have really been beating myself up as a mother even though I know this is just him. These were awesome words to read this morning. I will be having my hubby read this as well. Just wanted to share how much God knew I needed to read this today! Be blessed!

Anonymous Desiree said...

But what if it really is the mother's fault?
I agree with you - most of the time mothers really beat themselves up and its just the child's personality if he's strong willed or is adventures to the point where it makes you hold your breathe as your heart beats out of your chest.
But what if a mother stayed with an abusive husband for years - knowing that her children were getting beaten. But just couldn't leave b/c she was scared.
Now her children that are grown up are still all messed up.
Is it still not our mothers faults?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you; thank you! We have an adult son who is going through some personal legal and financial issues right now & his life is difficult - my husband & I wonder often what we did wrong, or where we went wrong. Yesterday was not a great day in our relationship with him and resulted in lost sleep and hurt. It's tough to watch your children in pain; but this verse was a reaffirmation that I have to let God be in control even through the trials!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for highlighting this area. My husband and I KNOW the areas in which we have messed up. But we also know that our children have their own wills. But our God is faithful and is working. This was very encouraging and helpful.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really needed this today. I have a daughter in middle school and sometimes you have to wonder what you are doing wrong when you watch them struggle to fit in. You wonder if you're doing something wrong. Maybe if you just... or just... things would be easier. My husband keeps reminding me that these kids will not matter in 6 years, but it sure is hard to sit back and watch.

Anonymous Lorraine Furtner said...

Once again---how timely! I was just crying last night to my husband how worried I was about making mistakes! Thank you!

Blogger Unknown said...

I have often wondered if God ever felt the same about man as we do with our children. After all how much has He, the almighty, put into us? In the end each person was given free-will. My heart goes out to the person who wants to know isn't some of it the mother's fault for staying in a seemingly bad relationship. It is easy to blame others, but forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others.(Matt 11:25,26 NKJV) Having not always had the best childhood, I have had a tranformation in my adulthood that only Christ can give and it has given me the best and in my opionion only way to live life. We have the choice to overcome our past. Christ has wiped it clean. Forgiveness is the first step. Great devotion today. I admit I am still guilty of the "what am I doing wrong thinking" and it is nice to have a reminder to follow Christ and He will take care of the rest.


"...remember this truth- you are loved by God and so is your child."

I love this closing sentence of your devotional. I have used this verse countless times in Mommies with Hope as women struggle to make sense as to "why" their child was born with such severe abnormalities that they couldn't live, or "why" their bodies "failed" their child, or "why" God punished them so. The list of "whys" goes on and on and I am so blessed to be able to encourage them with this very passage of Scripture and challenge them to seek out the work of God on display amidst the sadness of loss. What remains true despite all the ugliness of our situations is that God loves us and our children, who now are with their heavenly Father. What's more - "why" did He send His Son? He definitely did everything right as a Father, yet He gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we, unworthy sinners, may know Him!

Bless You,

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1.)DESIREE - I pray that the Lord does a healing work in your heart. But please understand that sometimes these mothers that stay in abusive relationships aren't necessarily as free to leave as you may believe. And believe me, I can't put into words the agony they experience to know that their children are being hurt! The mother herself is usually being abused in some way, whether physically, emotionally, or psychologically and does not have the means to escape the living quarters - or feels that doing so could end up being fatal. I can't speak to your situation exactly, but for the most part, this is the case... As children in the home, you're not privy to all the information, and you may see yourselves as the only victims... Don't blame your mother... Ask your Heavenly Father to heal you, and to help heal your mother!

2.)I struggle with the selfishness and ill-manner of my children. I wonder where I went wrong, or if it's too much of today's society impeding on them. I know when I'm around them, they'll remember to say "please" and "thank you", but if I'm not there, giving them the "Mom-eye", their manners are left at the front door! Why do they have to be hounded?
Ann in Seattle

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Anonymous Kelli said...

Again, GOD is on time!
Thank you JESUS, this is just what I needed to hear.

Anonymous Desiree said...

Dear Anonymous who responded to me... thank you!
I do not blame my mother for i am not the child... i am the mother who stayed with an abusive man for years in fear... and now i live everyday knowing my grown children could be so much different if only i'd been a better mother.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for you only because I am a mother who has lived a similar life. My ex-husband was abusive, too. But not physically toward me - just emotionally. However, unfortunately, very, VERY physically abusive with my teenage daughter - in a sexual manner - and I was unaware of it. She had her innocense stolen, and her sense of security and safety! Of course she would be a completely different person had I never allowed this individual into our lives! So, am I to blame?! Did I mess up my daughter's life? Should I be the one to bear the guilt? Desiree, YOU did not inflict the beatings, did you? And even if you did, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and ask your children for forgiveness. These happenings are allowed by our Holy Father for a purpose - for His Grand Purpose! We wouldn't be who we are if it weren't for our past, for our experiences - both good and bad... Because of what happened to my daughter, she is now working on her psychology degree so that she can be a child advocate - to help other children who have been throguh what she's been through. Don't carry guilt that's not meant for you! Take it to the foot of the cross! Leave it for the Lord - He's there for you! He loves you, and He wants so much to take this off of your heart!
God bless you, Desiree!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am truly greatful to God for his work of encouragement for me today. I raised by son single handed by the help og God and now he has decided at age 19 to go and live with his Dad. I have been going through a hard time and blaming myself. i thank God for his word today becasuse he has a plan in everything. Please pray for my son Daniel that God will give his a heart of flesh and love towards me.

God bless your ministry

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