Ahh…the dreaded “Mommy Wars”. The phrase which-though it wasn’t even around decades ago before the onset of social media- refers to a heart condition which has actually been around for a while now- the way we as women tend to judge one another and harbor a sometimes critical spirit of each other in our hearts. The comparison game which revolves around whether or not other moms do things the same way we do in areas of parenting such as co-sleeping, breastfeeding, vaccinating, when they allow their children to be front-facing in the car, whether or not they drink any caffeine while pregnant/breastfeeding, whether they deliver their babies at home or in a hospital, whether they had an epidural during labor and delivery, and the list goes on. The comparison game which, before you have your first child, you do not fully realize you are in for.
Becoming a Mommy is amazing! It is one of the most life-changing, humbling, exciting, breath-taking, overwhelming, inspiring moments in one’s life. But it is also a moment which instantly ushers each of us Mamas into the terrible world of the “Mommy Wars”. Suddenly we can begin feeling as if we have been transported back to our middle school days, as gals all around us are trying to one-up each other, prove themselves better and more knowledgeable than everyone else, and set themselves up as the standard. One need only hop onto Facebook briefly and join one of the many mommy groups there to see what I am talking about. There, depending on the group, you can find a multitude of arguments, disagreements, and -yes-sometimes even cases of harsh name-calling- as moms debate back and forth the virtues of vaccinating versus not vaccinating, co-sleeping versus not co-sleeping, letting your baby cry himself to sleep in certain situations versus never allowing your baby to cry. All of this results in division among moms, feelings of not being good enough or else, on the flip side, feelings of being better than other moms who do not do things the way we believe to be right and beneficial. It is indeed sad to see how we as moms can all-too-easily become our own worst enemies as we alienate ourselves from the encouragement to be found in friendships with other mamas simply because we happen to disagree with them on this issue or that. The Mommy Wars, unfortunately, are not even limited to the dramatic realm of the internet, either. They also occur in real, everyday life. I have known ladies who either desired to, or actually did, go so far as to change churches because of how they were being made to feel about their parenting choices by other ladies who disagreed with them. And whether or not the critical words are publicly voiced to a person’s face, our hearts alone can all-too-often be the homes of critical thoughts about those moms with whom we happen to disagree. The kind of harsh, critical, divisive, prideful spirit which is at the root of the Mommy Wars is to be expected out in the world. But what happens when, as we see happening in our today, Christian mamas are guilty of the exact same things? What then? Is it all harmless debate and banter, or is it actually wreaking havoc in our churches? I happen to think it is definitely the latter, and here is why.
They cause us to Major on Minors, Only to Forget What is Really Important
I am a naturally-minded, breastfeeding, mainly cloth-diapering, non-vaccinating Mama, and I have specific reasons why I, personally, have chosen to do things this way with my own child. But there is a truth which I need to be so careful to always keep in the forefront of my mind, and that is this: Not one of those or any other of the hotly-debated topics these days regarding mothering infants or young children is covered in the Scriptures in the sense of a command or actual admonition from God. You will not find anywhere in God’s Word an admonition or expectation for us to vaccinate or not vaccinate. A standard about whether to co-sleep or not co-sleep. A command to use cloth diapers or to not use cloth diapers. Breastfeeding is the one area which is, of course, spoken of in a positive light and is even used as a beautiful analogy of the love and tenderness of God towards us (Isaiah 49:15), but, again, God does not say we have to breastfeed in order to not fail our children and Him. You simply won’t find that anywhere. And yet we spend the majority of our time, when discussing issues pertaining to motherhood, debating these very topics or else silently judging other Mamas we know who do things differently than we do in these areas. Why is that? To be perfectly honest, I believe it is because Satan is working overtime to distract and keep us from what is most important-and that is focusing on what the Bible actually does have to say about what characterizes a good Mom. These days, the sad reality is that we are oftentimes too busy focusing on who does or does not vaccinate or who does or does not breastfeed their babies for extended periods of time, that we are not focusing anymore on what the Bible actually does clearly say we are to do as Moms. Things like loving our children (Titus 2:4), training them up in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and striving to be a blessing to our families (Proverbs 31:27-28).[clickToTweet tweet=” The Lord doesn’t leave us in the dark as to what makes a good Mom and what godly Mamas are to spend their time doing.” quote=” The Lord does not leave us in the dark as to what makes a good Mom and what godly Mamas are to spend their time doing.“] And yet we, in essence, act as if He does when we focus not on what He does share in His Word regarding motherhood, but rather on what is not found in the Scriptures and is instead our own standard and list of beliefs. We musn’t do this, ladies! We must not be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7). Do not base your opinion on who is a good mother and who is not on whether or not they agree with you on these non-Scriptural, secondary issues of feeding, vaccinating, sleep schedules, and the like. I do not vaccinate my daughter, but in my eyes, that does not make me a good Mom and the one who does vaccinate her children a bad mom. That other mom can vaccinate her kids, which I may disagree with, but if she is more diligent, intentional, and faithful to daily share God’s truths with her children than I am with mine, then she is a better mom than me no matter what her vaccinating schedule may look like! That other mom may be older and wiser in various areas of her mothering than I am, and yet if I choose to look down on her for vaccinating and choose to erect a fence between us because of that secondary issue, I may really be missing out on what all I could learn from her! Which brings me to another way in which the Mommy Wars are harming the church…
They Destroy the Titus 2 Model and its Outreach
Titus 2:4-5 tells us that it is the responsibility of older, wiser Christian women to come alongside the younger women in the church to encourage, train, and edify them in areas of morality, marriage, motherhood, and homemaking. It’s a beautiful, wonderful model and a very encouraging and helpful one when actually implemented. But here is the problem: [clickToTweet tweet=”The emotionally-driven Mommy Wars can greatly hinder Titus 2 mentorship from taking place. ” quote=”The emotionally-driven Mommy Wars can greatly hinder Titus 2-style mentorship from taking place. “] Because there are constantly new and differing parenting and childhood studies coming out every day and because parenting methods greatly change and evolve in our culture with each decade that goes by, the way women mothered years ago is quite different than the way we do today, particularly in certain areas (such as car seats and when to have your child front-facing in the car!). This constant change, mixed with just how pervasive the Mommy Wars are in how they influence our thinking in our day in age, can lead to thoughts in younger moms of, “Why would I listen to so-and-so? She’s backwards and archaic in her parenting methods, so what else is she incorrect about? What could I learn from a lady who, I believe, has it so wrong in these other areas?” Do you see how this kind of Mommy War thinking would greatly hinder the implementation of the Titus 2 mentorship model in our churches in this day in age? This is a serious issue, ladies! When we major on the minors of co-sleeping or car seat dynamics and measure our opinion of other women based upon whether or not they agree with us in these areas, we deprive ourselves of the wisdom and godly influence older Christian women could -and should!- have on us. An influence that we younger moms desperately need.
They Cause Us to Ignore and Blaspheme the Gospel
At first glance, this may seem a little extreme. Really? Participating in the Mommy Wars through our thoughts and words can lead to us ignoring, and perhaps even blaspheming, the Gospel? I believe so. The reason is because when we are guilty of getting all caught up in the Mommy Wars, this means we are busy comparing other women to our own man-made standards of what godly motherhood or correct mothering is. We say someone is a good mother because she vaccinates. Or does not vaccinate. But, what does God’s Word say? The Gospel, as set forth in the Bible, unequivocally states that we are all, by nature, fallen sinners (Is. 64:6, Rom. 3:10-18), but that when we place our faith in Jesus to save us, we are instantly cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), are made perfect in God’s eyes (Hebrews 10:14), and have God’s righteousness fully imputed to us (Rom. 4:5, Gal. 3, 2 Cor. 5:21). As believers, there is nothing that we can do that will cause God to love us more or less, that will make us more or less perfect in His sight, or which will cause Him to remove His righteousness from us. Granted, we should follow Biblical teachings on motherhood and seek to live in a godly way. But doing so does not make us better than the mother who does not. If such is the case when pertaining to actual Biblical commands, then it most definitely is when it comes to non-Scriptural issues: whether or not we co-sleep has nothing to do with how God views us as moms. We do not get a thumbs up from Him if we do co-sleep and a thumbs down if we do not. Therefore, we certainly should not allow it to affect how we ourselves view fellow moms! The best thing we can do for ourselves, as well as for other Mamas, is for us to keep our eyes on Christ and on the good news of the Gospel.
They Cause Division and Lead to Us Losing Out on Encouraging Fellowship and Valuable Friendships
Jill Savage and her daughter Anne recently released a brand new book (one I can’t wait to read, I might add! 😉 ) entitled Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone. It’s on my list of to-read books because the concept it is based upon is just so true: we were never meant to mother alone. As Scripture puts it,
“Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.” (Eccles. 4:9-10)
In this oftentimes challenging walk of motherhood, we need mommy friends to come alongside us and join us in this journey. We need the comfort of knowing we are not alone, and that someone else understands how tired we are due to middle of the night feedings or how much we want a few moments of peace and quiet or perhaps how awesome it would be to be able to go to the bathroom alone! We need Christian mommy friends to fellowship with and commiserate with and intimate friendships where we can build each other up and edify one another. Friends who will put their arms around us, pray for us, and say, “I know how you feel. I’m right there with ya. I’ll be praying for you.” Sadly, there are many Mamas out there today who are largely deprived of such friendships, thanks, in part, to the Mommy Wars. You see, when we pick each other apart and look down on one another for choosing a different parenting method or formula than we ourselves adhere to, it becomes a little hard to form such close, strong, intimate friendships built on realness, grace, and humility. Which is precisely how Satan wants it, for as Sally Clarkson has so aptly pointed out,
“Going at it alone is, without a doubt, one of the most common and effective strategies that Satan uses to discourage moms. A woman alone in her home with her ideals eventually wears down and becomes a perfect target for Satan to discourage. Some women have journeyed alone for so long they are not even aware of their urgent need for mentors, friends, peers, and fellowship.”
They Lead to Us Loosing Our Salt and Light and Becoming Poor Examples of Christ
The Mommy Wars, as clearly evidenced by all the drama, name calling, or just plain heated disagreements to be found on mommy groups on Facebook, are driven by pride. The idea that I know all there is to know in this area of parenting, my decision is therefore the best one, and if you do not come to the same conclusion that I have, you are sadly mistaken, in the wrong, and in grave danger of ruining your child. But, dear sisters, when we, as Christians, become guilty of acting in any of these ways towards fellow Mamas, we are ruining our witness for Christ. Consider the follow verses with me, if you will:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt,” (Colossians 4:6a)
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:9)
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;” (Colossians 3:12)
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
Sweet sisters, as followers of Christ, the Scriptures state that we are to be known for our love, compassion, humility, and the grace we show to others. If this is the case when dealing with those topics which actually are expressly outlined in Scripture and are commands issued to us from God, how much more so ought we show grace and humility when dealing with fellow Mamas on these topics of parenting which are not Bible-based or taught in the Scriptures, but which God gives us liberty to decide for ourselves? We do the name of Christ a great disservice when we show to the watching world a group of us moms who claim the name of Christ but who are judgmental, prideful, condescending, nit-picky, and arrogant when dealing with one another on the topic of differing parenting methods and formulas. That same watching world will not want anything to do with us or the Savior we bare the name of when they see how we view and treat each other. How sad, sisters! How sad that we could actually prevent someone from wanting to know our Lord because of the unloving way we treat one another in this area of man-made traditions of motherhood!
So, you see, friends, I do not believe that the Mommy Wars are no big deal or that if moms simply developed thicker skin, then all would be well. No, the implications of the continuation of the Mommy Wars, and the involvement of Christian women in them, are much more far-reaching and damaging than that. I believe we are actually doing the cause of Christ a terrible disservice when we get caught up in these wars and find ourselves judging other women in our hearts for doing things differently than we believe they should or differently than we would ourselves. If you were to ask me what I believe to be one of the most clever and pervasive tools Satan is implementing today to cause disunity, discouragement, and disillusionment among Christian moms (and by extension, the church itself!), I would wholeheartedly say without a doubt, it is the Mommy Wars. Let us get back to the basics, friends. Let us search out the Scriptures for what the Lord does have to say about motherhood and the parenting decisions we should make. Let us love and encourage our fellow sisters who are, themselves, on the sometimes-daunting journey of motherhood. Let us remember that we are not the mothers of those ladies’ children, that we do not know those children and their needs like their own mothers do, and that we can and should lovingly and helpfully share advice when it is sought and be educated and well-researched in these various parentings methods and ideas, but that at the end of the day joyfully and supportively embrace fellow Christian mamas regardless of whether they do things the way we do in areas of vaccinating, feeding, naps, schedules, and other secondary issues. And let us remember that at the end of it all, when we are standing before Christ, He will not ask us, “Did you do right by your child in the area of vaccinations?”, but rather, “Did you feed my sheep? Did you love and train and invest your life in the lives of the little ones I entrusted to your care? Were you salt and light for others? Did you love people in my name? Did you seek to be a lover, encourager, peacemaker, and unifier among your sisters in Christ?” You see, Mamas, that is what is important and that is what we want to emulate in front of our children and the watching world at large. With that, I want to leave you with the following Scriptures which, I believe, are very applicable to this issue of the Mommy Wars,
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” ~Romans 14
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” ~Hebrews 12:14
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” ~Colossians 3:12-15
Sisters, let us keep our eyes fixed on the Lord and, in so doing, spur one another on to faith and good works, one step at a time. God bless you!
*One thing I wanted to mention quickly: If you are looking for more encouragement, I highly recommend you check out this awesome blog post by Crystal Paine: Dear Exhausted Mom of Littles… (what I wish I could go back & tell my 23-year-old self)
*And one more note: I actually am in the planning stages of expanding this article into an eBook, the working title of which is: The Infiltration of the Mommy Wars: How They are Affecting the Church and What We Can do About It. Keep an eye out for exciting updates and announcements regarding that project as time goes on. And, if you would be interested in being on the launch team for that book, please e-mail me and let me know! 🙂
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