I had my second baby in September of 2022. I spent my days glued to the couch feeding my baby who struggled to eat and gain weight. My oldest wasn’t even two and had the energy of a Siberian Husky, climbing all over the moving boxes that surrounded us. We’d moved into our home just two weeks before my son was born. My husband was working a very demanding job and could only offer me so much assistance. The boxes remained unpacked. We lived on fast food yet somehow the dishes kept piling up. My patience with my toddler grew thin. Feeding my infant son took up almost all of my time. I couldn’t keep up with everything thrown at me. I was feeling so incompetent as a mother, and those weighing feelings turned into postpartum depression.
I think most parents can agree that at some point in our parental journeys, we have felt inadequate. Maybe your child is exhibiting negative behaviors that you just can’t seem to correct. Or your child is dealing with some emotional struggles and you aren’t sure how to help them. Or maybe you felt like you were doing a great job until a family member, friend, in-law, or even someone on the internet criticized your parenting choices and now you’re questioning everything.
If you’re feeling “less than” as a parent, here are some gospel truths that helped me.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Parents
Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy once spoke of comparison and said, “Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.”
I spent much of my spare time scrolling on social media, comparing myself to other mothers I saw sharing their lives. I’d ask myself questions like, “This mom has double the kids I do and her house is way cleaner than mine. Why can’t I be like her?” These moms I followed cooked healthier meals, had cleaner houses, and better behaved children, or that is how I perceived them on social media.
Comparing myself to other mothers never made me a better mother. It didn’t improve my cooking, my ability to clean my house, or my parenting skills. If anything, it made me more depressed that I wasn’t measuring up and hindered my ability to parent my children. Once I finally realized this, I unfollowed a lot of the moms that I was comparing myself to and set goals that I knew I could accomplish and weren’t based on what other parents were doing. I focused on being better than I was the day before, and that alone increased my self-esteem, and in turn my ability to be the best mother I could be.
Rely on Your Savior to Fill the Gaps
I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. The atonement covers every sin, struggle, tragedy, and pain we will ever face—including when we make mistakes as parents. At some point, you won’t have the patience to deal with your tantruming toddler. Your teenager may come to you with a struggle and you’ll say the wrong thing. On a busy day, you’ll accidentally dismiss something your child told you in excitement. As parents, we all mess up. You’ll accidentally hurt your kids, and when your kids hurt, you hurt. How blessed we are to have the atonement! Our Savior’s sacrifice covers these trials too. Pray for comfort and guidance and lean on your Savior in these difficult times.
Elder Neil L. Andersen once said, “… It is my promise to you that increasing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will bring you added strength and greater hope. For you, the righteous, the Healer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds.” Do all that you can, and your Savior will do the rest.
Keep Personal Revelation in Your Parenting Toolbox
This one seems really simple, but it is really effective. While your child didn’t come with a manual, we are equipped with the ability to receive personalized help from our Father in Heaven. We know this from James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” We are all going to be put in situations with our children where we are clueless about what to do and don’t currently have the wisdom to solve the problem at hand. We can simply ask God and He will tell us what to do.
One thing to consider – if anything, asking God should be our first step in our parenting approach. He is the one person who knows our children even better than we do! He is the one who created them and made them exactly who they are. It only makes sense that we would go to Him first when we don’t know what to do for our children.
Thankfully, the depths of postpartum depression are now in the past for me. I definitely still have days where I could have been a better mother in some regard. But I am grateful for the spiritual tools that I have to help me day to day in this season of life when I am raising my little children.