The Defensive Doing Too Much Mommy Syndrome

the most unbecoming photo of me I could find

This has to be one of the most unbecoming photos of me ever, but it sort of looks defensive, doesn't it?

I told you it was coming!

When we as moms are on the receiving end of the judgement passed by others, we can be quick to cry,

“But you don’t understand!”

never stopping to consider that there may be some constructive in that criticism.

God can and does use others to refine us.  Iron sharpening iron is not always pleasant and we must be willing to hear the words of others despite the sting.

If someone suggests you need to be home more or you might not be managing your finances well or you need to discipline your children more, don’t immediately jump on the defensive – or at least try not to blurt out what you are feeling.  Instead, take a deep breath, a few steps back and consider these things…

1.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t assume their motives in saying something that stings is to judge you and hurt you.

I once had an older woman suggest I was either not sleeping or neglecting my family in order to blog.  She had no idea that I only need about 6 hours of sleep a night and that I type 85 words per minute.  Computer-related things have always come easily to me and therefore, I can get a lot done in very little time.  But rather than quickly defending myself, I decided to remain quiet with all my reasons and take some time to assess whether I truly was balancing blog and life in a God-honoring way.

I decided I could find even better ways to manage my time so I wasn’t blogging during hours when I could have been spending time with my husband.  I only worked on blogging when he also had work to do and I made sure to sit beside him as we worked.  I also started scheduling my social media promotions to cut out the 30 minutes in the morning I was on the computer before breakfast.

Her words, though not fully informed, had merit and did afford me the opportunity to do an even better job of managing me.  I also know for a fact, she was speaking out of concern for me and not in hopes of hurting me.

2.  It isn’t always necessary to defend yourself.

When my father was struggling through his last year with Alzheimer’s, I had someone reprimand me for “running up and down the road” from my home to my hometown 3 hours away.  This person had not had a parent die and did not know what it was like to be forgotten.  I had determined, with my husband’s blessing, not to be forgotten by my father for as long as I could manage.  Gas prices and wear and tear on the car do not even compare to the time I spent with my dad.

But there was no need for me to defend myself for making the most of what time I had left with my dad.  If this person had taken a few moments to think through the situation, they would have realized what was more important.  Additionally, I had my husband’s blessing.  There was no need to defend something that would not have changed no matter how much someone tried to convince me otherwise.

3.  Listen and discern. 

When someone says something that cuts us to the quick, it is hard to listen.  Sometimes it is even harder to discern if it is truth or lies.  No one wants to be criticized, but sometimes the very things we need to hear come wrapped in pain.

But, there is a flip side as well.  Sometimes the attacks we feel are just that…attacks.  They break us down and make us question ourselves over and over again.

Both of these require us to get on our knees before God and ask for His guidance.

We need discernment from the Lord to know if what we are hearing needs to be taken to heart or if it needs to be flung far from our hearts.

So, my dear mamas, perhaps you are doing too much.  Perhaps you aren’t practicing self-control.  Or perhaps you are right where God has you and in that you can rest.

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47 thoughts on “The Defensive Doing Too Much Mommy Syndrome

  1. This post reminds me of a book I read “When People Are Big And God Is Small.” Such a very very good book! It’s about how to handle these issues and the struggle to be concerned about what others think of us. That desire to defend ourselves is a result of our desire to look good in the eyes of others. Great book!

      • I just got done reading “When People are Big and God is Small.” It is an excellent book on overcoming the fear of man (which I greatly needed to do.) Another good one is “Pleasing People” by Lou Priolo.

  2. I totally agree that we need to be willing to listen to correction even when it comes from a sinner (because it always does ;) ) and even when half of it may be ill-informed. The other half may be something we really need to hear.
    God is our defense. It is pride alone that makes us want to defend ourselves.

  3. Wouldn’t our lives be so much easier if people were not so quick to judge and comment? After reading this, I am really reminded to watch my own tongue, the weapon that can do the most harm, when speaking to others. Thanks.

  4. For some reason this made me think of my mother. Whenever she comes out to my house she has some negative comment about our yard (it needs mowed, we have weeds), or “wow do you have any clean dishes to eat off of?” I try to remain respectful but afterwards I always feel like crying. I feel like I am trying my hardest at everything, but I can’t worry about it. My husband says he feels she is jealous because we have put family and fatih above a lot of other things and I am a sahm, where she was a career woman and to this day I don’t think she “gets” staying home with my children.

  5. So much truth! Some of the most hurtful things my dear husband has ever said to me were, in honesty, hurtful not because he said them, but because the Holy Spirit was convicting me about it AS he said them to me. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to hear it.

    (And how funny is it that we have to be careful not to turn the tables and go from being a defensive mom, to a judgmental mom!)

  6. Great post that really makes a mamma think! For me, I think the hardest criticism to receive is that from my husband for some reason. Maybe because of our connection I tend to take it more personally?? But I’m definitely a work in progress and learning to really stop and think, like your post suggests, and really analyze what he’s saying. . . . . because many times there IS merit in what he’s telling me. I just need to remove my pride, self-righteousness and own judgements in order to receive it, process it and make any necessary changes. :)

  7. We handle criticism better as we get older and if we are anticipating it, too. In my early 20s, I was a student teacher. Whenever I received feedback, I usually responded defensively, saying, “But the reason I did that was…” it did not go well. I was called out for being defensive, and then got defensive about THAT because I was sure I was right!

    Recently (now in my late 20s, with lots of new experiences), I joined a speaking club. I gave my first speech this week, and when I received feedback, I listened with an open mind and heart. I found valid and gentle criticism in everyone’s comments. There wasn’t a single thing that someone said to me that wasn’t in some way valid, because it was important to consider their perspectives, so that I could better reach my audience.

    The same thing can apply to blogging, too. Criticism can come and it may seem out of left field, but that is that person’s perception of you and your work. Maybe there is something there for you to consider. And if not…a gracious response (if the concern was gentle) or that handy delete button are always there. :)

  8. I think it’s important, but very hard, to remember that sometimes people have their own messed up reasons for the misguided comments they make. For example, Jenn’s mom might feel like she’s being judged for not being a SAHM, even if Jenn never said a word about it. Sometimes I feel like people make comments about having a large family or homeschooling or whatever because they feel like I’m judging them just because I have chosen something different. So they might be defensive, too.

    • Good point Karyn – some comments that seem crude, hurtful, unnecessary, etc. are really due to the speaker’s own insecurities that they project on us. It definitely takes wisdom, patience and compassion to discern the difference and know that they are simply speaking from their own heart – which hurts and therefore really has nothing to do with us. :)

  9. I feel like I have to defend a lot of my choices like homeschooling and parenting, this was a wonderful piece, I too need to learn to step back and take a breath before reacting, thank you

    • I already feel like I have to defend homeschooling, and we haven’t even started yet :(

      My family dosen’t “get” it. I am not so concerned if the inlaws do or not… the only ones who have been supportive of the idea outsing of those already homeschooling is my brother in law and the supervisor of the daycare acency I work for… SIGH… If I decide to go for it in Sept(jsut my oldest to start) I am in for a battle….

  10. I so needed this. It reminded me that I just need to learn to let things go. Most times it is not meant in the way I take it and after some reflection it often times has some true in it. God can use even hurtful speech to help us see things in our live that need to be changed.
    My mother-in-law is so great at using her speech for encouragement even when it is something I need to hear. I don’t know how she does it, but she always has a positive way of addressing issues. Maybe that is why we are best friends:) Now that I think about it, I see that she never speaks her mind right away. She gives things time, and then finds the right words to confront, yet not critize.

  11. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle between these two types of moms that you have been discussing. Some days I get asked “how do you do it all?” which always makes me feel like I must be neglecting my kids because I just always assumed that all moms did what they could during the day and I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special…and then I had a comment said to me the other day along the lines of “geez, someone had too much time on their hands” (I had made our butter and was sharing online how by using the cream from our farm milk we were able to save so much money). Both sides are hurtful to moms…I usually pray to make sure I’m doing what God wants me to do and then ask my husband if he thinks there are any areas I am forgetting about. Moms just need to lift each other up…learn from one another and love one another! Thanks for posting Amy, definitely reminds me I need to just be secure in what God is calling me to do.

  12. Beautifully put! I have experienced all three and hope to more embrace correction and find the piece of truth in even the most painful criticism.

    Shalom,
    Julie

  13. You have such a gentle way, Amy. In my adult life, I have struggled with a knee-jerk reaction of attributing bad motives to others. My husband is exactly the opposite, so he has been such a good influence on me over the years. I’m beginning to be more open and less instinctively defensive. That’s wisdom that helps us to be loving. Thanks.

  14. Thank you. That was very helpful. I tend to think the worst of people, and very highly of myself, so this post was good for me. Thank you.

    ~Natalya
    P.S. You must be (and are) a beautiful woman if you think that picture is unbecoming, because I still thought you looked lovely. I’m not kidding either. :)

  15. Thank you so much for this post. We saw my mother-in-law this past weekend. We live 8 hours away. She made a comment that definitely “cut to the quick.” I wanted to defend myself. I am trying to reflect. Maybe she has a point, maybe she doesn’t, either way it has drawn me to the cross where I need to be.

  16. Thank you Amy. I’m off to go check out HooteSuite. If anything in my life needs changed first it is to be off the internet in the morning. Thank you for this post, and for not writing (in general, not just this post) with a judgmental, “I know it all” attitude. The Lord has truly blessed you with a gift of writing.

  17. Amy, there is so much truth to this, and as I get older, the more God has given me the discernment to know the difference between a person who is speaking out of concern and one who is just trying to tear down.

    You know, every time I look at your profile picture, I feel like I know you. Did your husband attend Southern Seminary in KY at any time?

  18. Such wise words, Amy…it has always been difficult for me to receive criticism. Just yesterday, I had my picture book “pitch” critiqued, and most gave it a thumbs down…for good reasons. A few years ago, I would have been devestated, but I was actually anticipating the challenge of putting all the constructive comments to work!
    Thanks for reminding us not to get defensive immediately, but, to think things through. And, although I do not know you personally, you do not look unattractive in the photo!
    MakingTheWriteConnections

  19. I really love reading your blog! It feels very balanced to me. I hope that I would be able to take constructive criticism, but looking back in the past, I have not handled it very well. I have one friend who will tell me like it is, and often times I don’t tell her things that I know will receive a negative reaction. I even feel resentful when she does bring something to my attention, but usually nine times out of ten she is right. I think that going to God is always the first place to start, when we self examine. Because he sees us in the light of Jesus, he will always be gentle and loving when pointing our stuff out to us. Thanks for your willingness to tackle the hard issues.
    Katie

  20. apt timing today for sure. I was just in a conversation last night that had me in a bit of a whirlwind. Thanks for reminding me to go pray. We are His!

  21. Sage advice…and I think your picture is beautiful. I have found…that defending myself does not bring out the best in me. And…if it hurts really deep…that usually means there is probably a bit of truth to the advice being given….so, taking time…staying silent, praying and seeking true discernment have paid off. I wish I had learned this earlier in life…and am blessed (as always) by the way you are so loving and provide such great support and wisdom!

  22. Sometimes it is hard to hear critisim.

    Sometimes it is something you need to evaluate. I admit I have weakneses as a mom and caregiver.

    Sometimes, as in parenting advice from someone with no kids, you need to jsut ignore it politely… Funny how people with no kids or just one know more than I about raising three kids… I also ignore advice from peopl;e with a differnt parenting philosophy. I am never going to let my child cry it out, or spank so no point acknologing with a serious responce…

    But yes advice/critasism can shake you to the bone, sometimes even more so when it is unwarrented :(

  23. Thanks Amy, this is a challenging post for me and I can see it’s something I can improve on! Do you have a phrase or some advice on how to respond to a criticism etc if you don’t think they’re right or need to think it over? ie, a respectful phrase that isn’t saying “I agree with you” or “you’re wrong!” LOL

  24. Another resounding AMEN!

    You know, a sneaky little trick of the enemy is to use just a teeny tiny bit of truth to convince us of a lie. After all, if there wasn’t a tiny bit of truth in it, it wouldn’t be convincing or believable . So, it is always good to evaluate oneself, as you mentioned, and be willing to learn and grow. For we won’t be perfected until the Perfect comes.

    It does take maturity to be willing to say, “I’ll take a look at that, thank you for sharing,” but we WILL grow in our faith by doing so!

    Thanks again, for sharing so candidly, Amy!