3 Truths to demolish mom guilt

Written by Jessica Hurlbut
Published on June 07, 2022

“I hate you, you @*&!%” My 5-year-old daughter screamed at the nurse as she prepped the needle. Everyone in the room, including my husband and I, picked our jaws up off the floor. 

We had spent a frustrating week at Boston Children’s Hospital, and we were all wanting to scream profanities, only my daughter didn’t have a filter. 

“Where did you learn to swear like that?” My husband inquired while gritting his teeth. “Head Start,” Emma pouted matter-a-factly. Head Start had given my daughter a head start—on swearing. 

As parents, it was embarrassing. As pastors, it was mortifying. When I wasn’t stressing about the mass in my daughter’s lung—I was laden with guilt as a mom. 

Where did we go wrong? Maybe we didn’t discipline her enough? Why is she so angry? 

The truth is, behind every great kid is a mom who is sure she is screwing it all up. But guilt isn’t based upon facts but the Liar himself. And every lie has a root. 

Guilt’s root sounds like this: I’m not doing enough. Whether you’re a working mother who beats herself up about the time spent away, or a stay-at-home mom who finds herself resenting her own children sometimes, we all experience the overwhelming sense that we aren’t cut out for the job. 

Guess what? You’re not. 

3 truths to hold on to

1. We are all challenged at parenting

If you don’t think you’re selfish—have a child. 

I guarantee within forty-eight hours between midnight feedings and diaper explosions, you’ll realize how self-centered you truly are. 

Every one of us is in desperate need of God’s grace. Grace is the undeserved favor of God demonstrated by Jesus’ death for every time we fall short. 

We don’t have what it takes to be a good parent. We need buckets of grace to bridge the chasm between our best intentions and our failures. 

In traditional Japanese art, liquid gold is used to bind together fragments of broken pottery. Each crack is etched in gold and formed into a new creation—one in which its brokenness and faults are completely apparent, yet stunning because of his grace. 

Ask for God’s grace and allow him to make you a new creation. 

2. You can’t give what you don’t have 

Several years ago, I lost the diamond from my engagement ring. I swept every nook of our home with no luck. That night, my son found me crying in the kitchen. Without saying a word, he ran upstairs to grab his piggybank and shook it out onto the counter. 

Out plopped three quarters and a mound of pennies. “Here mom, buy yourself a new diamond,” Isaac gleamed with pride. 

“Oh Honey, I love that you would give me all your money, but it’s not enough.” I would never expect my son to give me enough money to replace my ring, yet we often put expectations on ourselves and others to give what they don’t have. 

Maybe your parents grew up in a cold home where work, not love, was the priority. Maybe you never heard the words, “I love you” as a child. Maybe you are suffering through a divorce, an illness, or loss and are struggling to be the parent you know your child deserves. 

Listen to me, you can’t give what you don’t have. 

3. Your child is on loan

“I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life” (1 Samuel 1:27–28 NLT). 

There is a story in the Bible about a mom named Hannah. She struggled with infertility for years and poured her soul out to God, begging for a child. Eventually, Hannah finds herself pregnant with a son whom she names Samuel, meaningGod hears”

Yet this isn’t the most miraculous part of the story. Once Samuel is weaned, at three years old, Hannah presents her son to Eli the priest and leaves him to be raised in the temple. 

The greatest gift a mother can give her child is to entrust them to God—after all, he’s their real Father and loves them far more than we ever could. 

Consider a few extra resources:


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Jessica Hurlbut

Jessica Hurlbut is a pastor, a writer, and a mom of five—two autistic, two adopted, and one future president. She and her husband Greg are lead pastors of New Testament Church in Massena, NY. In 2012, Jessica and Greg adopted a sibling group from foster care. Through this process, Jessica became an adoption advocate for the 125,000 children in care who are in desperate need of a forever home. Jesus whispered to her heart, “If you take care of my kids, I’ll take care of yours.” Jessica and Greg founded the National Day Adoption Run in 2018, in which Jessica attempted to run 125 miles in 24 hours as a visual representation of the 125,000 children in the U.S. who are freed to be adopted. Jessica writes a weekly blog and hosts a bi-weekly podcast, The Full Spectrum Parent, for special need parents at www.jessicahurlbut.com 


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