The memories that your children are making now will be of the everyday moments like breakfast or bedtime. The big events are remembered, but what your children will really carry with them are how your family managed the everyday tasks. That's where the Colossians 3:23 Principle comes in handy.
Mom guilt is a trap that so many moms fall into. As I mentioned in part one of this this two part series, mom guilt is most often driven by our innermost heart desire to be the best parents that we can be. We know how high the stakes are, and we want to do our best for our children. But mom guilt does not help us be our best.
When mistakes are made, and they are, destructive mom guilt can take root. In part one, I encouraged moms to choose well the adjectives they allow their minds to dwell on when mom guilt approaches.
Today I want to emphasize another technique for kicking mom guilt to the curb. It is the Colossians 3:23 Principle and it is a tool that I have used for as long as I can remember. It has served me well in every area of my life, professionally and personally. This technique focuses on the attitude we have as we approach parenting. By this I mean the day in and day out tasks that we complete so that everyone is thriving. It is in the everyday that memories are truly made. This principle can be applied to every area of your life.
The memories we have of big life events like vacations, moving to a new house or starting a new school soon fade in importance and are absorbed by memories of those routines like breakfast and bedtime. Budget breaking vacations to huge theme parks are great fun, but those are just blips on your children's radar screens when compared to the impact of how you choose to approach each day and its tasks.
To illustrate my point, try completing this sentence: When I was a child, my mother always ______before I went to bed. Or this one: We used to__________in the morning before school. Do you see what I mean? We record a lot of memories in the moments when nothing is special. Your children are building these memories every day. How do you think your children are remembering things like getting ready for school, running errands with you, eating meals together, or going to bed?
The Colossians 3:23 principle for eliminating mom guilt is simply this: everything you do as a parent matters. But more importantly, according to this scripture, how you do everything you do is just as important. Paul told the Colossians that they should be doing everything they do as though they were doing it for the Lord. This is a reference to your attitude towards the dozens of small things you do each day. So a simple shift in how you think about these tasks can eliminate mom guilt. Seriously.
As with Philippians 4:8, the power of the Colossians 3:23 principle lies in the descriptive language. The words that describe how we do what we do. We can receive from Paul's writing that we live our best lives when we do the work before us for God and not for ourselves or even for our children. In other words, the attitude we take when we prepare meals, sort laundry, dust furniture, change diapers, mow grass or have the car serviced can make our children's childhood memories happy or not so much.
Consider the experience of a young father that I know. He recently asked his sons, aged 7 and 8, how they would describe him. Let me stop here and say that this father is a busy professional man with a great number of serious responsibilities. He works long days and his time at home is often limited. So when he asked this question, he didn't know what to expect. He was not prepared for the answer they gave. Needless to say, mom guilt has a counterpart called dad guilt.
"Mostly angry." responded the youngest. "Yeah." agreed the oldest. "Angry." I could see the hurt and confusion in this father's face as he was telling me the story a few weeks later. He never intended to appear angry. He loves his boys. He is a hard working man with a lot on his mind, but in the busyness of his business, he forgot to pay attention to how he was doing what he was doing.
In meeting his responsibilities without considering his attitude he left his boys with the impression that he was angry much of the time. Happily, this young father completely understood the Colossians 3:23 Principle. He took stock of how he was living his days, and he decided to do it differently. Everyday life in their home is happier now. In addition, the dad guilt is gone. Not just because he is doing things differently, but because he knows that even when things aren't perfect he has given it his best.
What changes would you have to make to live your life, do your work, raise your children, create your Harbor Home as though the Lord were the only one receiving your care? Working within your own personality, how can you put the best face on the uneventful routines of life? You can work patiently and cheerfully through the uninspiring chores. This is the beginning of how mom guilt goes away. The chores don't become more inspiring, but you will put a new spirit in your home. You can know that you gave the day every good thing you had to give.
You can inspire your children to find the joy and wonder in the simple things around them. You can learn to slow down long enough to listen to a joke told by a third grader and laugh convincingly. You can learn to see that you, your family, and your life is beautiful just as it is and that doing whatever it is that parents do is done guilt free when you do it by the Colossians 3:23 Principle.