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Heather MacFadyen: “Am I a Bad Mom?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 6, 2022 2:02 am

Heather MacFadyen: “Am I a Bad Mom?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 6, 2022 2:02 am

Feeling like a bad mom? Author Heather MacFadyen explores motives & emotions fueling your actions & judgments so you can lean toward the mom you long to be.

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So recently we were talking about being in the van, a minivan, with our two grandchildren who are three and one. Dave is up in the front with our son, and then my daughter and I are in the back taking care of the kids, and the one-year-old is screaming her head off. Yeah, she was screaming. For like an hour. And the whole time— It might have been three hours. The whole time. It was probably 10 minutes.

It was probably longer. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

My daughter-in-law is amazing. She's feeding her. We're making faces.

We're singing songs. Later that day, we're walking, and I could tell she was so frustrated because she's thinking, like, why wasn't he back here? And he even had offered, do you want me to be in the back? But as moms— You say no every time. We feel guilty.

Yeah. And so I said to her as we were walking, I said, it's the weirdest thing because God has put it in us as moms. We are connected to our children. And if we're all sitting in a room with the dads and the moms, the dads aren't thinking about, I better take care of the child. You automatically as a mom zero in on it, and you know, like, I'm going to take care of them. But I found myself, when our kids were little, like, why doesn't Dave take care of them?

It was just always on my radar to care for them, to love them. Yeah. And you can hear another guest in the studio. Heather's over there. Heather McAden is over there laughing because you two moms are like, yep, yep, yep, yep. I mean, that's your life, right?

Yeah. I think about even coming here and all the effort and planning. I set a crockpot meal ready for the first night they're home. I'm making sure everyone gets picked up at the right time. And my husband texts me while I'm here. What's our carpool number?

It's been the same for 10 years. But I think when he goes out of town, there's no prep on his end. He just goes out of town. Right. Because you are always connected to your child. Even if we're both working. Yeah. We both work outside the home. Right. We both have jobs.

And yet the buck stops here when it comes to taking care of those kind of kids. You know, I'm sitting over here wanting to refute you, but you're right. Well, let me ask you.

I just jump on a plane and go. I don't even, I don't think, I don't have a thought. You don't think about are there meals? Right. Does everyone picked up at the right time?

Have their uniforms ready? I mean, Anne's got it. She's, that's what you think about. And I will say I have friends in our life and he is the stay at home dad. And he does those details and the mom travels and the mom is involved in a lot of other things. But that's the rarity. Yeah.

That's the rarity. One of our sons is like that. He's very connected. He's very always, he's very aware. Yeah. This generation is beyond my dad's or even your two back.

Yes. And very disconnected. Well, it was interesting too. Even this week we had our three year old grandson with us and he and I happened to be sitting out on this deck. And he has this little camping chair. You know, he just turned three. And he says to me, Nani, didn't you have a meeting two days ago? You know, I'm thinking, how does he remember that?

And I said, I did. He said, oh, how did it go? I'm like, what is happening right now? It's like the deepest conversation I've had.

You're thinking my husband never asked me how it went. But there's this bond that was like this bonding moment for me. And we long for that with our kids, that instant with that conversation that was maybe five minutes long.

I felt so connected to the him. And your book, Don't Mom Alone, growing the relationships you need to be the mom you want to be. We've talked about how we need that relationship with Jesus, how we need the relationship with other moms. But you also talk about that connection with our kids.

Yeah. I wasn't going to have the last section be that. I was going to be advice for mentors, you know, thinking friends, mentors, God. But then I realized, oh my goodness, so often we are looking to mentors, reading all the books, listening to all the things so we can be amazing moms. And we're leaving our kids behind. We're trying so hard to being amazing parents that we forget to have the relationship. Rules without relationship equals rebellion. So I think with that concept, especially in the church, I think if we wonder why so many older kids are leaving the church.

And I often think that it could be some of the parenting techniques that were handed down to that generation created a distance and relationship that prohibit them from having anything to do with the church. I don't know if it's true. I don't have any data. Yeah. But you have four boys. I do have four boys. And as a mom, you are trying to connect with them. Right.

What's that look like? And in the pandemic, they all want to do boy things, you know, watch Marvel movies. Oh, I like that. I've had my melt on moments where I'm thinking, I'm the only girl in this house.

Me too, Heaven. It's like living in a frat house. Yes. Yeah, it's hard. But I do think I'm a speech language pathologist by trade. So communication is really important to me. And I've always been able to talk with my boys about any topic. And that's just one of our high values in our family.

And so even if it's possibly a topic I don't want to talk about, Minecraft or Fortnite or whatever the latest game is, if it's important to them, them coming to me and me engaging in that or whatever topic, I think is helpful. But I mean, there's a lot of missteps along the way. I'm not one of those moms who's like, I got it all right and follow my plan. I don't think there are any moms like that.

I don't want to be like the Titanic, like avoid this iceberg ahead, you know? I love that at the beginning of each chapter, you have an isolating idea. And every single one of these, I could read them all to a mom and she'd say, yes, yes. This one is, I can't stop yelling at my kids.

That's the isolating idea. The connecting truth is I can identify anger triggers and use calming tools. So let's talk about anger.

I'm kind of excited about this because I'm hoping- That's a way to connect with your kids. Yeah, anger. Through anger.

That's right. And I think I've learned a lot through counseling, through Celebrate Recovery and, you know, a lot of Townsend training is to identify what I'm feeling. And I think in the young kid years, there's such a reactive time. Everybody needs things. You're physically spent.

I call it, it's like a pinball machine just bouncing from one need to another. And so being aware of what I'm actually feeling happened zero times in a day. I just asked one of my daughter-in-laws, how are you feeling?

She said, I have no idea. I never think about myself. No, total self-forgetfulness. And what happens then is we are feeling, we were made in God's image with emotions.

We have them. You're not being emotional if you have emotions. I hate that phrase. Yeah. Oh, she's so emotional. No, we're all human beings who are emotional. And God has emotions.

So we are human beings made in the image of God who has emotions, who expresses love and joy and anger. I was feeling so much guilt in those years with young boys. I did not want to be an angry mom. Again, I'd read all the books.

I had the master's degree. The last thing I wanted to do was be an angry mom. But you get to the third boy, the fourth boy. No one does what I want when I want. And they're embarrassing me at every turn. And so the only thing I can do is yell. Anger is an energizing emotion. And I was believing a lie from our last conversation about what lies I believed. I had a lie of weakness.

I really did not feel strong or able. And so being an energizing emotion, I thought, well, this is where I'll get my strength. But I'm harming the relationships at every turn as I'm getting angry and then feeling guilty every night. And then shame on top of the guilt that not only was it wrong that I yelled, feeling angry wasn't wrong, yelling and anger was the problem. And I'm feeling guilty for doing that.

But then I'm now feeling shame, mom shame that I am wrong. Did you ever go in and apologize to your kids even after they had gone? I did. Repair.

Yes. And I would tell myself, OK, well, that's beyond what I experienced, the repair, the apology, but it's becoming a pattern. And you were saying you not only did wrong, now you said I am wrong.

I am wrong. I'm a bad mom because I yell at my kids. And so many moms are feeling this. But I really want to help moms to really lean into what's behind the anger because it's a secondary emotion to something else. Mine was the fear that I was dealing with in that lie of weakness.

And that was that inner healing that I did to kind of realign what's true. And instead of in those moments of fear, feeling the anger and responding with the anger, I could stop and pay attention and be like, OK, I'm feeling the energizing emotion. That's anger. Get curious.

What am I angry about? OK, this child keeps asking for a cookie. And I've already responded five times and told them that we're about to have dinner and he can't have a cookie right now. And that's a character flaw in that that's badgering. And I don't want him to be a badger the rest of his life. So, OK, I'm taking that knowledge about what I'm feeling and what's going on that's causing me to feel that way. Let me address the badgering and we can train that.

But all of that work. So what did it look like? So in that situation, outside of the moment, I could bring up Wild Kratts. Remember that show?

And they had an episode on badgers, the actual animal with them clawing in the dirt with their long claws. And I could say, when you ask a question and I answer it and you ask the same question and you ask the same question, that's badgering and it hurts our relationship. And, OK, it's three years old.

That's pretty young. But I believe kids can learn a lot of stuff. So then in the future, when I would notice him doing it, instead of reacting in anger and saying, stop it! Which is what I wanted to do.

I could even do just assemble with my hands, digging in the ground or say, you're badgering. It helped him. Now, he is one of my most persistent children still and is excelling in school because of that persistence. Right. It's a gift from God in terms of we can see it as he's so annoying. Raising leaders is exhausting.

Yes. I have one, too. It's exhausting. I'm thankful that I'd read the book Good and Angry and it gave me the, it freed me from believing anger was wrong. So I stopped fighting the anger and saying, I've got to stop being angry.

That only lasts like five minutes. To stop, try to stop the emotion only lasts five minutes. But if you get curious about it, it moves you from a reactive part of your brain to a thinking part of your brain. And you can figure it out a little bit better. And I think I'd love to encourage moms, if they have a pattern of anger, to start getting curious about what's going on at the moment. You will not be able to solve it in that moment because anger just happens so fast. But if you start to see patterns, you can start to look at what's behind it and do some work with God or with your kids. I've always said, like what you're saying, curious, is when you find yourself then triggered it to anger.

I call it backtrack. Backtrack to the first emotion because you skipped an emotion. When you said that secondary emotion, I had never heard that until decades ago. And that was a revelation. Because Ann had told me, you're an angry man. I'm like, no, I'm not. Which was a great reaction.

What are you talking about? Like exhibit A. But when I started to understand what you're saying, I guess calling it being curious, it's like, no, no, no. It's like an extension cord.

It's plugged into an emotion. I remember one time I was going to pick up our kids at a gymnastics little practice. CJ, my oldest, was six, maybe very young kids, maybe eight. When I came in, CJ says, oh, I thought mom was coming. I'm like, no, you got dad. And then there was a lady there from our church. I'll never forget. I'm the pastor of the church.

Her kids were there. We were talking. CJ starts badgering me. He says, hey, can I get something out of the vending machine?

And I'm literally talking to this lady and I remember saying, hey, just hold on a second. He kept doing it. So I turn and I grab his arms to go, CJ, hold on a second.

Well, I didn't realize. I squeezed so hard. He starts screaming. So now all the parents in this little gymnastics lobby are like, that's the pastor guy over there.

What's he doing? And I mean, it's so bad that he jumps out of my arms. And I remember his mom looks at me like, dude, what was that about? And of course I'm thinking, I didn't squeeze that hard, but I did.

And so as we're walking to the car, I literally, in my head, I went through it. I always told people at our church, you need to ABC your anger, acknowledge it, backtrack, confess it. So A was, was I angry? Oh yeah, I was angry.

And you know, it's interesting. For a lot of Christ followers, we can't even get to A. We're like, I wasn't angry because we think it's sin.

So defensive. We don't think anger is a God-given emotion. It's like, no, it is a God-given emotion. It just says don't sin in your anger. You will be angry when you are angry.

Do not let the sun go down on your anger. So I was walking to the car like, A, yep. B, what was the emotion I skipped? Do you know what it was? Rejection.

Yeah, it was like I was hurt. He wanted mom instead of dad. Of course, he's a five, seven, eight-year-old.

Of course he does. But to me, it's like, oh, you didn't want dad here. And again, I'm not going to be psychoanalyzing like, oh, you know. But it was like, oh. And so as we're driving home, I'll never forget this. I've got all three boys.

My youngest is in a car seat. CJ was up in the front seat and the other two were in this little Honda Accord. And I go, hey, guys, do you think dad was angry back there?

Every, you know, your kids see it like crazy. They're like, yep. I go, do you know why? And CJ goes, because I didn't interrupt you. I kept pulling on your thing. I go, yeah, that was part of it. I go, you know, the truth was you wanted mom. You didn't want me. You know what? That's totally normal. But I sort of wanted you to want me.

And then CJ was confessed appropriately. I said, you know what, guys? I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been angry. That's great that you wanted mom.

I picked you up today. Are we all okay? Will you guys forgive me? Immediate forgiveness. Here's the best part of the story. I get home, 20 minutes later, walk in the house. Guess what? I'm not yelling at my wife.

Because I had dealt with the anger. And that's what you're saying. You've got to be curious to go back and say, where's that coming from? And I'm guessing, moms, that is 50 times a day.

Well, one of the things I've learned to do, I think bedtime, when we put our heads on the pillows, that's when the battle begins. Yep. Yep.

100 percent. I start thinking, I failed here. I shouldn't have said this.

Why did I say that? And even with adult children, because I have no control now, whereas I did a little bit then. And so I've started this practice of visualizing myself.

I just did this two nights ago. Visualizing myself with Jesus. And I tell Jesus the things that I'm caring. And so I'm like, Lord, here's what I'm caring today.

And this is confession. It's telling Him the truth. I'm caring that I shouldn't have yelled. I'm caring that I'm worried about my kids. I'm worried about this. And as I'm telling Him this, I see myself taking off baggage.

I just visualize it. And I hand it to Jesus. And I hand Him another one. And so it's this time of purging almost.

These are all the things that are weighing me down, Lord. And then I picture Jesus doing something with them. And every time it's different. Like, one time I'll see Him throw it off a cliff. One time, just in my head. He's digging a hole and burying it. And then I'll ask this question like, Lord, is there anything else that I need to give You that I'm caring and that You want to carry for me?

That has been the most freeing practice of just going to bed, letting Him have. And sometimes there's an application of, you need to apologize or go back to this son. And even that part of like, Lord, I feel like I'm not.

I'm failing this son. And maybe He'll just, the Holy Spirit will whisper like, He needs you right now. Like, you need to spend a little more time with Him. Have you had any of those times?

No, I just think that's so great. And I think what I'm hearing from both of you is, to me, emotions, the gift of them. It's like when I had a car and it started smoking. Like, smoke was coming under the hood. And it was this red flag that I needed to take it in and get it fixed. And these emotions are just these great tools to let us know that something else is going on that we can bring to Jesus.

It's not too much for Him. The rejection was behind the anger, the beliefs and the weight that you were carrying that was not yours to carry that you could give to Him. For me, it was the fear that was behind my anger.

And I think the gift, if we lean into it instead of feeling guilt and shame, which is where the enemy wants to keep us. That's why moms reach out by the hundreds whenever someone on Instagram or Facebook says, Oh yeah, I yelled at my kids today. Because it makes them feel like, Oh, I'm not the only one. You are not the only one. The enemy wants you to believe that.

But don't use that as an excuse to just keep doing it. Do get curious, dig into it. Because yeah, for me, I over and over again kept- You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Heather McFadyen on Family Life Today. We're going to hear Heather's response in just a minute. But first, if you want more people to experience great conversations like the one you're hearing today, you're going to want to listen to this. All month long, any gift that you give to Family Life will be matched dollar for dollar.

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All right, now back to David Ann Wilson and Heather MacFadyen. A little trick I learned from some mommy expert, and again, no formula, but this is a trick, and if I talk to a mom with young kids, I tell her about it, because to me it really worked, especially if you have several young children. It's called Mommy Time, and we would do it twice a day. I would do it mid-morning before lunch, before naps, and then after nap time before I would start cooking dinner when I stayed home full-time, and I would put their names in a hat, and we'd draw out who'd go first, second, third, and they would get to pick what we did in our 10 minutes. I mean, moms will feel guilty, like, oh, my gosh, 10 minutes, that's not very much, but really, when you have that many young children and they all need to get to work,
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-09 18:17:24 / 2023-01-09 18:27:11 / 10

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