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Heather MacFadyen: “I’m a Failure as a Mom

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 5, 2022 2:02 am

Heather MacFadyen: “I’m a Failure as a Mom

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 5, 2022 2:02 am

Grappling with responsibility & even failure as a mom over how your kids are turning out? Author Heather MacFadyen knows your anxiety -- and how to deal.

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Okay, here's a question I think every mom and dad probably wrestles with.

How much of how my child turns out is my fault? Ooh, let's both answer it. Like, what do you think?

I don't know. I hope it's really low. I would say 50%.

I would have probably said 80. Is the parent's fault? Yeah, that I'm responsible. 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.

I actually got this question from a book I recently read called Don't Mom Alone. We have the author sitting in our studio today. Welcome back.

Hey, thanks for having me. I mean, you remember this part of your book? No, I do because I heard it from Townsend himself. We were at dinner, and I was telling him I was writing this book, and he said he was asked that question from the stage, he and Henry Cloud. And they said, Okay, let's play a game. And we'll both write our numbers down, and then we'll show the audience at the same time based on anecdotal cases. You know, they're both counselors. And they both wrote down that the parents were 30% responsible. That's amazing. But the trick, it's like marketing.

You don't know which 30%. So I just encourage moms, like, you're still intentional. You can read the books, you can take the classes, pray your prayers, but you are not 100% responsible for the trajectory of your child.

Well, I love what you said. God's power to redeem your mistakes is bigger than your power to destroy your children. I'm going to read that again, because I think as moms especially, we need to hear this. I mean, dads need to hear that too. God's power to redeem your mistakes is bigger than your power to destroy your children.

I needed to hear that as a young mom, because so many times I was in bed at night thinking, I'm wrecking them. But what does that say about God? It makes us into gods, doesn't it?

Yes. It's like we're creating little trophy children, and I just don't believe that's how He works. And you read any story in the Bible, none of them match each other.

They're all different trajectories. And He takes the broken and He redeems their stories over and over again. And I know enough parents who have followed all the formulas, who are following Christ, whose kids are wayward, maybe never returning to faith. And it breaks my heart how they can sometimes be treated by those in the church or messages they received. We do each other a disservice when we hold that line for ourselves. We don't give ourselves enough grace. We don't give our kids enough grace to make mistakes and give them the message that I'll love you no matter what. That God's bigger than any of this.

And I don't know, I just don't know that it shows a lot of faith to believe that we are fully responsible. Yeah. Well, Heather, you spend, I mean, every week you're talking to moms and you're interviewing people on your podcast called Don't Mom Alone. You've written this book called Don't Mom Alone. So is this a common mom thing? Because as I'm listening to you two moms talk about it, it feels like it's both because I've done this as well as a dad. I know dads do, but it feels like there's a heightened, I don't know what it is, responsibility that moms feel like I am responsible for how my child turns out, good or bad.

Yeah. Maybe not good. They don't take responsibility when they turn out good. Well, and that's what a mentor did say. If I take responsibility for the good, I take responsibility for the bad because, you know, Facebook, it's filled with all of the trophies and the awards, especially when they're hitting the teenage years.

I think they start to perform in ways that make us feel really good about ourselves. But then I think of my friends whose kids are really struggling right now, especially with COVID. I mean, mental health issues is at an all time high, suicide. I'm thinking of each of those friends, too, when I see those posts and it grieves my heart because it does cause more and more isolation in those teen years because of that line between a parent's role and how they turn out.

And I don't know if, I'm not a dad, so I can't say if it's more, if the weight is more for a mom, but it feels pretty heavy for moms. I agree. I mean, it felt that way in our home. It felt like I tended, and this may be denial. There could be personality that plays into that. I mean, I think in some ways I did, like, step into denial. I would say to you, hey, it's their responsibility.

Who they become as a man is up to them. It's not up to us. That was good for me to hear, though. I'm glad you said that. Yeah, but I mean, you didn't. I mean, you're saying it now, but then you're like, what do you mean? It's all on us. It's all, actually, I felt like she was saying, it's all on you.

You need to be the dad. But we do carry that. But there's a sense, in some ways, I'm hearing moms carrying it a little bit more. Maybe not.

I mean, maybe it is personality-related. But it is a sense of, and it gets us back to that quote, if we feel like it's our responsibility, then we are not depending on God. Is there a God? Is He in control?

Does He have our kids? How do you wrestle with that tension if you're living between those two realities? For me, it was, again, getting to the end of myself, having a panic attack in the chicken, the fried chicken drive-through, where I was holding it all. I was holding four young boys and not just how they turned out, but just physically caring for them. And I think I feared not just other people's approval or being rejected, but their safety. It felt like a heavy load that if something physically happened to them where, you know, they ran in the street, I mean, that was on me. And so I was overwhelmed by all of that. My husband, this often coincides with their careers growing.

So they're working a lot. And so you can feel lonely in that you're not emotionally connected to your spouse, so you're not getting that. And then I had pulled away from friends because it was just the time. I didn't have it.

I really didn't have it. And I didn't have energy when I did have time to hang out with people. And so all of that pressure on me, all of those fears and the isolation from others who were saying, you're doing a great job or, you know, even if you don't believe them, it's hard for me to, this is normal, wasn't there. And so it all collided into a panic attack. And it took me finally seeing a counselor to say, this is normal. This pressure is normal. Your desire to do this well is normal.

I don't know why I had to pay someone. Finally, it would have been cheaper to have friends. But I do think that all of that pressure for moms particularly comes together. And it actually keeps us from being the moms we want to be, which is the saddest part of it. I want to free moms from that. I mean, I'm just picturing you in a drive through. I mean, you don't see that posted on Facebook.

I had a panic attack today. Do you think a lot of moms are at that breaking point? I think the last two years, for sure. Because even if they had touches of community on the sidelines of a sporting event or touches of community in the hallways of a church, they haven't had that in a lot of places. They've been very, very physically isolated from people for two years. And so I think that for sure, I mean, even our family in England, it's been rough.

And so, yeah, they're feeling the pressure. Heather, what about your relationship with Jesus? You've talked about that in your book. The subtitle is Growing the Relationships You Need to be the Mom You Want to Be. So you're talking about how we do need friendships with other women, but you're also talking about this relationship with God. And we mentioned that yesterday. How have you developed that?

What does that look like? So I've walked through, in addition to the counseling, an inter-healing prayer ministry and the Holy Spirit just doing some work in my life to combat some lies that I've been holding onto that were coloring all of these relationships. So until I dealt with them and invited Jesus in and kind of allowed him into the places that I was thinking I was keeping him at an arm distance, I couldn't then engage in these horizontal relationships. So for me, the healing, yes, I had to talk to a counselor and I joked about it would be easier with a friend. But I think then it was that layer of healing that came from only God could do. I could have all the people in the world tell me words of, oh, you shouldn't worry about other people's approval or you're not responsible or you don't need to have that fear. But I needed a supernatural deliverance from a spirit of fear and a supernatural deliverance of a soul tie that I had that I wasn't hearing directly from God.

And having that almost cleared away and healed up, I think, led me to the next level of healing, which is through our 12-step Celebrate Recovery at our church and the community that came alongside me to then continue to combat those lies and wrong beliefs and how they were coming out sideways in relationships. And so that's why I start the book with the relationship we need first is God. Because if we haven't done the work with God, we'll continue to interact with people with those false beliefs and those false ideas. And we might even look to people to be something that they were never intended to be. We might be too vulnerable and scare people off. We might say that vulnerable thing. I've had people say, well, I am vulnerable with people and it doesn't work. And I'm thinking possibly this is some deep rooted work that needs to be done with you and God and what you're needing from people they could never satisfy. That really is the picture of Dave and I on our 10-year anniversary. We wrote a book called Vertical Marriage and basically I was saying, I have nothing left for you. I don't have any feelings for you.

Two little babies and toddlers at home. Yeah. And part of it now, because we've done counseling since, is exactly what you said. I was trying to get from Dave what only God could give. And I think there's a beauty to that, of realizing like no one can give that to me except Jesus. And there is an awakening. I think I'm so passionate about this for women because I see women so tied up, so longing for more, and they're not free. They have so much pain, so much baggage, so many wounds. I carried that for years and years and years of wounds, of things that had happened that were still affecting my decisions and my joy. And so when I read that, I was like, yes, you really did do the work to get some help and that inner healing. And it's so beautiful when I get to do that with other friends, friends that I've been in Bible studies with, and we've been circling the same symptoms over and over and over and over again. But when we get to bring it to God and get to uproot the core memory or whatever, whatever they started believing that doesn't line up with God's truth about who they are, and we get to invite Jesus in and reframe the memory and see them walk out of that prayer session just full of life and freedom is such a gift to me. It encourages my faith because every story is so unique. I haven't prayed with someone and seen the exact same. But Jesus is the same every time we invite him in. It's the same yesterday, today, and forever, but he shows up with the same character, the same way he engages with them. And it's such a gift to realize that this same Jesus is here for everyone.

And we simply invite him to those places. You know, it's interesting. It's a long story, so I can't tell it, but I can tell this part. I sat with a guy who walked me through healing prayer about my dad leaving. And again, there's details and things listeners have heard me say before. But at the end of that prayer, and it was 10, 15 minutes sort of journey, one of the things that I feel like God spoke to me that I'd never understood, and I was in my 50s at this moment, so a long life was I'd spent decades of my life mad at my dad for leaving when I was seven years old, blaming him for different aspects of my life. And I felt like God was saying, and I should have heard this earlier, but it was the first time it ever really hit me. He was saying, I protected you. And even in that phrase, it wasn't I removed your dad from your life. Your dad made a decision that was his decision and left. But you've always felt like if I would have had him, I would have. And he's like, do you understand if he would have been in your life, you're not the man you are today.

Because it would have been negative. And it was one of these freeing moments like something I thought was always evil. God was turning for good and God was there. It's what you just said, was when you connect with God on that kind of intimate level, which can involve another mom or another dad in your life, but man, if you don't have that connection with Jesus yourself, nothing else, no other mom will ever meet it. I'm guessing that you and any interaction between the time that your dad left and that prayer time, you were protecting yourself from the rejection in the future. And when God said, no, this wasn't a rejection, this was a protection, it reframes it and you're no longer fighting to keep people from rejecting you. You're free to love them for who they are.

Exactly. And that was one of my lies, is I have to. And you just said you had to do lies. What's a lie? Are you willing to tell us one of the lies that you had to- That I had? I've had lies of not being safe. Recently, after my dad passed, I had a lie that God got it wrong.

That was wrong. And I had bitterness rooted. But I will tell you, I physically felt free when I confessed, God, I've been believing that you got this wrong.

Please forgive me. And he's always willing. He's like, of course, my daughter, I just want you to believe what's true. I don't want you to live in a state of bitterness. And so he's willing to offer us forgiveness. We just have to align our beliefs with what's true.

And that confession, I think it's such a bad rap as being this, oh, I did something wrong, I better confess it. No, what if I've just been believing something that's not true? And so whatever that is, if you're listening, ask God, what have I been believing about you, about others that is not true? I did the same thing with a woman. And I'd been already dealing with my past abuse. And so she walked me through some inner healing. And she said, what is the lie that you've started to believe?

Because I felt so unworthy. And she said, and I want you to confess it. And I said, confess it? Like, I didn't do any, I was abused.

I'm the person abused. She said, no, confess the lie you came to believe about who God says you are as his child and his daughter. And I mean, I sobbed because it was, I believe that I'm not worthy of your love.

I believe that I don't have what it takes to be a good mom or a wife. And it was this onslaught of emotions that I'm sobbing. And it was just this beautiful picture. And then even asking the question, she asked, God, what do you want Ann to know?

What do you want her to realize? And it was just this beautiful picture. I use my imagination for all kinds of crazy things, you know? And I think the Holy Spirit likes to take control if we allow him. And it's governed by God's word and the solid foundation of the gospel. That he wants to free us from these things.

And I think that's the best place to start. He doesn't want us to be in a broken world. And he doesn't want sin to interact with our story. And that's the freedom even of moms that I'm trying to communicate. Even if you do all the things and keep all the rules and you're the most intentional and you follow the list, evil will intersect with your child.

And if we have these tools, what I love is learning these tools. So when my child starts to say something that I know is not true, instead of just dismissing it and saying, well, that's not true. You're not an idiot. We can say that doesn't line up with what I've read in God's word. But let's pray. Let's listen. And I've done that with one of my sons. And we say, OK, if anything comes to your mind, let's just thank God for that. And I did it with him. I said, I hear him calling you a caretaker. And his eyes popped open.

He said, I heard the same thing. And I think we have these tools. And as moms, then we don't have to fear, what if something happens to my kid?

What if I make a mistake? Because we have the tools and God's word to redeem and restore and recover just like God did in our stories. Yeah. And I'm sitting here as a husband looking at two women who are moms and are talking about freedom, which I think there's probably a lot of moms going, I don't think I've tasted that kind of freedom. Here's my question. What do we do as men when we see our wives locked up?

You know, they're not free. They're believing lies. We can sort of see it. But yet when I would try to speak truth into Ann, she would often just dismiss it. And then I would think, you don't need me. I can't help. And I felt like I wasn't, almost like you need another woman. You need another mom.

I can't help you, but I want to. So your two moms, your two wives, what would you say to the men? How do we help when we see you're locked up? And I'm not saying we're not locked up. You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Heather McFadyen on Family Life Today.

We'll get back to the conversation in just a minute. But first, I want to let you know about a special group of people who help make conversations like today's possible. They're called Family Life Partners. It's a community of people who believe in our mission and give financially every month. And thanks to some generous partners right now, if you sign up to give monthly, you not only receive all the benefits of our partner program, but your donation will also be doubled for a year. That means if you give $25 a month, the impact is actually $50 a month. On top of that, when you give this month, as our thanks to you, we'll send you a bundle of resources, including two books. One, Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas, and second, Not Part of the Plan by Kristin Clark and Bethany Beal. So become a monthly partner, have your gift doubled for a year, and then get a bundle of books.

Pretty good deal, right? You can give today at or by calling 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. All right, now back to Davyn Ann Wilson with Heather McFadyen. I think sometimes men want to help, and that means doing a thing. And I would say sometimes with age-old, we want you to listen. But I think ultimately you could do all the things, but when it's God's right timing, He'll redeem and restore her. I think loving her by knowing how she receives love is really helpful. And I think the desire is to fix her. And it may be that that's only God's job to do. I think too, Dave, sometimes what I can feel as a woman is you don't like that I'm in a bad place.

You didn't have to say that. No, I mean, I don't see that in a bad place because none of us do. No man wants their wife to be in a bad place, and so he wants to fix it. And that's commendable for a man because I think men feel responsible, and you do want to fix it. So I think for men to go to their wives, if she's saying something negative, to ask the question, tell me more.

What do you mean by that? Get curious. Yeah, I think that curiosity builds a bridge. Like, oh, he cares and just doesn't want me to snap out of it because it's inconvenient. It's that, oh, he cares and he wants to know.

I think that's super helpful. And to not stop saying the things that you see in her. Because you would say, oh, you look so good. I'm like, no, I don't. Look at my pants. Too tight. You know, for you to not stop, because you've been really good at that over the years.

You're really great at complimenting me. But I think you get discouraged. Like, it doesn't do anything. You don't believe it.

But don't stop. It would feel at times. I mean, I went on a journey from early marriage where she doesn't really believe that. There's no way she looks in the mirror and thinks she's not the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen because that's what I think. And so I would make fun of it.

Like, yeah, whatever. You don't think that. I don't know how long it took me, but there was a day it was like, oh, my goodness.

It was like a revelation. She really doesn't think. She believes this lie. And so then I had to go, oh, so I'm hurting her by saying, you don't believe. You get mad at me. I mean, I was being the worst husband.

I'm talking decades here, I think. Where it was like, oh, she needs me to partner with her and be the voice of Jesus, saying this is what's true. Then she wouldn't listen to it. And, you know, I often then get frustrated, like, I'm trying to help you.

But I think at the end of the day, and this would probably be true for men or women. I think one of our roles is, and I'm speaking to the guys now. Maybe your wife made you listen to this, but here's what I'd say to the guys.

Because for a long time, Ann said, I feel alone as a mom. And I would be like, what are you talking about? She's got all kinds of people around you. Look, she even does the voice.

It's got the harshness. You're an idiot. When you talk, you act like I'm an idiot.

That's how I did it. Like, come on, what are you talking about? And I would say to the guys, I need to realize she really does feel alone. And so I'd say two things. Number one, partner with her. This is a really hard job as a mom.

And she's carrying something I don't think we fully understand because we don't carry it in the same way. Be your partner. Help out. And you would say, just help me. That would be number one. Number two would be create a way, a space in her life, so she can connect with God and connect with other women.

Yes, that's big. Figure out a way in your schedule to say, I'm going to carve out a night, maybe once a week. I don't know what it is. But to say, you know what?

It's about helping her find time to be with Jesus because it's really hard for her to do as a mom. And number two, have some friends. So go out with your friends and find your tribe. And don't make her feel guilty for that. What time are you going to get home? Well, because even then, moms won't take the time because they feel bad that they're not there. And they've been there all day. Or I think it's really hard for my mom friends who do work outside the home to take any time. Because they've already been gone.

Because they feel like they've already been gone, so they don't deserve that. And I think that's a lie, too. So guys, you got your assignment today.

You gonna do it? Well, and the same message of God is bigger. We were not fully responsible for our kids. You as men are not fully responsible for your wives.

God is big enough that He can minister to our heart. Your job is to love and support her just like our job is to love and support our kids. That's David Ann Wilson talking with Heather McFadyen on Family Life Today. You can get a copy of Heather's book, Don't Mom Alone, at or by calling 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. And if while you were listening today and you thought of someone who would completely relate with the conversation, consider sharing it from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, it'd really help get the word out if you'd rate and review us.

You know, so many moms feel like they're a bad mom because of X, Y, and Z that they aren't doing. Well, tomorrow, Dave and Ann are gonna be talking again with Heather McFadyen about living in the moment so you can escape bad thoughts like that. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you can join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-09 18:03:02 / 2023-01-09 18:14:04 / 11

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