Am I a good mom? If I am not exactly good, am I good enough? Or, are my kids going to be messed up because of something I did? Do I spend enough time with them? Am I too overprotective? Have I taught them what they need to know to survive this crazy life? What if ______(insert any typical mommy fear)?
These haunting voices of doubt can be relentless, and mothers ask me questions rooted in these doubts all the time. The truth is, I ask myself the same ones too. Mine come with added pressure because I am a therapist… But Teri, your kids aren’t supposed to struggle with that. Or, You teach your clients how to do these things, it shouldn’t be this hard for you.
Sometimes I can keep those voices at arm’s length, but other times, they shout at me. Doubt exploits my insecurities and sends me down a spiral full of questions. Have you ever doubted your ability to be a good mom? If you answered yes, you are not alone! Most moms doubt themselves and it can rob us of our joy and confidence in parenting. So here are ways that you can fight those voices of doubt.
Is it true? Is there evidence?
Most of the time doubt about our parenting is rooted in lies. What’s the best thing to combat lies? Truth! When you take a step back from the doubt, it’s helpful to see if there is any evidence to support it to be true. If there isn’t anything that says it is true, it’s time to let it go and claim the things you know are true.
For example, when doubt makes you ask yourself, Am I raising good kids? you can look for evidence and replay, The teacher told me last week how great it is to have Johnny in her class. And my friend commented the other day how helpful my son was around the house when she was here. Shifting these lies to truth will help you not to spiral and fight the doubt.
Don’t get caught in shame’s trap…make a change.
So what if there is evidence to support the doubt? If you have trouble finding evidence that contradicts doubt’s message, this could lead to a shame spiral of beating up on yourself.
If shame creeps in, this is a great opportunity to assess the issue and make some changes. Remember: You as a mother and your child are both works in progress; there’s nothing to be ashamed of in that. We will never be perfect, but we need to recognize when there is an issue that needs to be addressed and work to take care of it.
Ask someone who is willing to tell you the truth.
Sometimes it is hard to look at yourself objectively and it can be helpful to ask a trusted person if the voice of doubt has any truth behind it. Checking with a loved one who will give honest feedback can aid you in knowing if doubt is just spitting a bunch of lies at you or if there are real issues that need to be worked on. I tend to do this with my kids every so often when I ask, Is there anything I can do to be a better mom to you? When we let our kids answer questions like these about us, it helps us find out.
The voices of doubt are only powerful when we let them be. Press on in your fight against them and use them to refine areas that need attention. What do you doubt about yourself as a mom?
Teri Claassen is a Jesus follower, wife to Dan, mommy to one boy and one girl, a foster mom to kids in need, and a therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling in Tampa, FL.