Where is the Encouragment?

I recently heard an older mom ‘encourage’ a younger mom who was having a particularly trying time with, “Just wait until they are teens. It is so much harder.” Do you think that was really encouraging for her in that moment?

“Just wait until you have three kids.”

“You think it is difficult now, just wait until they are tweens, or teens, or in college.”

“Oh, you think you’re tired now? This is easy compared to…”

“You think boys are hard, just be glad you don’t have girls. Oh the drama!”

There are some people that I am certain the hardest stage to parent is the one they are in right at that moment.

Why do we say these comments? It is an underlying desire to believe that no one else can understand, and that our particular situation is more difficult than yours.

1. It is not true.

Moms are people with individual personalities and gifts just like everyone else. Because of that, we each have our own stage of parenting that will be more difficult than other stages. To impose your struggles on someone else is simply not right.

While I prefer to get my sleep, I can function pretty well on fewer hours of sleep. Because of this, I don’t particular struggle with the infant stage. I have several friends, however, that really have a difficult time with this stage, primarily because of the lack of sleep. Someone else that is further down the parenting road telling them that it is only going to get worse is not encouraging to begin with, and quite honestly may not be true at all. They may love the teenage stage.

I have some friends that thrive in the toddler, preschool stage. Others that love the middle school stage (yes, it’s possible!), and still others that have said they enjoyed the teenage years more than any other stage of parenting. Of course they love their children through all the stages, but they find certain stages easier or more challenging than others.

2. It is self-centered.

Anytime we say those comments to moms we are trying to turn the conversation to reflect back on us. A person who makes a comment like that is in that moment not thinking about that mom at all. They are thinking only of their own situation.

When a mom is struggling, exhausted, and weary from a particular trial we need to show them there is light at the end of the tunnel, not a deep dark gloomy hole.

3. Our situation is not theirs.

One person’s spouse may share the parenting load more or less than another. Financial struggles can effect our parenting perception. There may be family in town to provide free childcare and help out. Or you may be in a town where you know no one. A spouse’s work hours or travel schedule effects the parenting gig. Each person has a unique situation that lends itself to particular struggles.

4. There is no hope.

God gives me grace to get through today. He gives me grace for the stage of parenting I am in right now. He will give grace tomorrow for tomorrow’s parenting stage. I do not need to worry about the future.

I do not need to hold back on fully accepting grace today in order to make sure I have enough for tomorrow. Fully embrace grace today, and then tomorrow you can fully embrace it again. God’s grace is abundant, full, powerful, and will never run out. It will be enough when you have an infant, and it will be enough when you have a teen.

When we make comments like that, we are not acknowledging that there is grace enough for everyone. Next time a mom is struggling, or is exhausted, or overwhelmed, take the focus off yourself, give an understanding ear, and then point them to the light at the end of the tunnel. That light of grace.

What are some specific ways you encourage other moms?

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  1. Oh, I know! When my daughter was born, she was a really great sleeper, and everyone said “wait til she’s out of the newborn phase”, “that won’t last” and “oh are you in for a surprise!” Well I’m pleased to say that 8 years later she is still the best sleeper ever! I say to new mums “do what feels right for you, and enjoy it all because it goes so fast”.

  2. I think this is so common, it’s become socially acceptable and is likely the first thing out of people’s mouth.

    When I spent four months on bedrest some people kept telling me to enjoy it because pretty soon I’d be begging to rest. I can honestly say I’ve never wished to be back on bedrest.

    But I’ve been guilty of downplaying other’s problems too and I try my best to actually be encouraging instead of making everything all about me.

    I’ve found one of the most encouraging things is just recognizing a difficult situation. It seems to make me (and others) feel better when someone simply acknowledges that the situation is difficult.

    • Johanna says:

      Exactly…just acknowledging the difficulty can be the biggest blessing!

    • Yes, the recognizing is huge. I surveyed a bunch of women on the encouragement topic last May and that was key. We want to know that others can relate to us and what we’re going through without the extra “2 cents” thrown in every time. The recognition is wonderful emcouragement in itself a lot of times. We don’t always need ‘a fix.’

  3. I think some of these are just comments, not really meant to discourage anyone. God’s grace is sufficient through all stages of our children’s lives. My children are grown and one in particular is having a rough time which makes my heart ache.

    • Johanna says:

      I agree, it is often just comments said without intention of hurting. Sometimes we forget, though, how it feels to be the person hearing those. I’m so sorry for your child’s situation. I am sure you are a great encouragement.

  4. This is so true! There have been times that I’ve almost cried because of comments like these. Thanks for the reminder to be encouraging!

    • Johanna says:

      Oh, so sorry for you. But I am sure your experiences have made you that much more sensitive to others!

  5. What a good reminder. Your comments are so insightful. How often we say things like this without thinking.

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