Mean Moms, Child Idolatry and the Only Way Out


Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.

Alice Walker



“Mom, she doesn’t like me.” she says in a manner beyond her years.

I try to brush it off, give her words of encouragement, but know there is probably a grain of truth in the middle. With a child who is both sensitive and extremely intelligent, I have witnessed more than my share of minor (and not so minor) injustices. I was sadly disappointed in what I closely observed as a mom willing to volunteer in an extracurricular activity group.  I recognized then that there are some who step up, not because they love children, but because they love their own children. Other children are tolerated, unless they are useful in some way to the parent’s agenda for the child. If your child fits the mold, expectation and standard they set, great. Otherwise…the labels are slapped on, and the adults who could be part of the solution by their position become part of a more complicated and complex problem.

 It’s been fourteen years since I began this parenting journey. Fourteen long years of wandering this desert. I am still blown away by what I observe, hear and experience as a person…read: fellow human being, on this journey. I let the rude, inconsiderate and insensitive comments, attitudes and backstabbing, roll off me. My eyes, ears and mind take it all in. But, my heart? I guard that very carefully as I am commanded to do so because of the One I follow. I seek out others on the fringe needing encouragement. You know the ones. The ones that don’t have all the answers…who can’t brag about and rely on their children’s accomplishments but instead still recognize that children aren’t trophies, but unique individuals. Those who aren’t busy wagging their fingers, maligning a fellow mom…read: human being on the journey.

I have seen first hand coaches, teachers  and Girl Scout Leaders who have no business leading children, because they are self-serving, self focused and lacking the ability to remain unbiased in serving children. I have seen damage done to the tender hearts of children because of the neglect and lack of personal responsibility to a higher authority or even to any authority. Where the only authority is the person’s moral standard which is grossly skewed. I have heard murmurings among adults who lack wisdom but think that their words have escaped the hearing from ears of both child and adult.

It makes my blood boil.

 You want to know how to make a child distrust adults? When adults behave in a manner not becoming of adults. I am not talking about adults being perfect. I am talking about adults who strive to keep the image up that everything is perfect, knowing full well it is not. Because it cannot be this side of eternity. The absence of grace is evident, and performance becomes the master to which one bows.

 You want to turn a child’s heart away? Hide the fact that you are person who makes mistakes. Never talk about your struggles. Deny that you, your husband or their older siblings ever have made a bad choice. Ever. Hide the truth of any mistakes well. Hold your children up to a perfect standard. That’s right, push them, cause them to strive. Because you have bought into the lie that this here life is all that matters. That how things appear is more important than how they actually are. That killing yourself for the dollar will gain you freedom but shackle your soul. Push them harder, because you believe that children need to be pushed, instead of nourished.

Criticize and judge others with and without words…and you will surely show children by your example what really matters. 

I get so weary of adults who shake their head and cannot understand the madness of this world, and then open their mouths and pour out accusations, slanderous statements and gossip about many. It saddens me that so many take part in what can only be characterized as downright meanness. Both in subtle ways, and not so subtle ways.

The only way of escape for any of us is through the One who himself escaped. Jesus came to set us free from futile thinking that leads  to an exhaustive performance based, approval driven, maze crazed life. His one sacrifice allows the supernatural transaction that allows us to step off that crazy treadmill and to learn to walk by faith. We receive grace so we can give it. It is a two-way transaction. The fact remains, one cannot give what one has not received. It all begins and ends with Jesus. The minute it doesn’t it becomes something else completely. 

Can I ask you a question?

Who are you apart from your children? 

 Does your whole identity revolve around them? Your activities and focus might…and probably a good portion of your life is wrapped up in this journey of parenting, as it should be. But, if you have forgotten who you are or only can talk about your children’s accomplishments. Or just your children, I wonder if it IS well with your soul.

Before you think I am horrible for asking I want you to consider Job (Job 1:13-21).  In Chapter 1, he suffers the loss of all of his children yet still says,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job’s identity was not dependent on his children. He loved them. He provided for them,  raised them, prayed for them, but in  the end Job recognized that they belonged to God and that he was just the keeper of the gate. The Lord gave…the Lord has taken…Blessed be His name.

Job’s identity was grounded in who He was himself as one belonging to and acknowledging God. 

Friend, we live to glorify God. Alone. Our God does not share His glory with another. We are called to love, raise, train our children, but they belong to God. They are not trophies. They are not our identities. God has plans, lessons, and uses for us every step of the way as we yield to the One who created us – and our children.

Bow to Him, worship Him. Stop giving lip service and Glorify the King.

Encouragement for dealing with the Mean Mom Club and avoiding Child Idolatry:

5 Perfect Comebacks for when Mean Moms Attack– Comical comebacks sure to give you a giggle.

Moms in Prayer– The best way to fight a mean mom or fight being or becoming a mean mom yourself is by prayer! Win-Win! Praying for the schools, teachers, other parents and the school community in general is also key to being set free from a critical/mean spirit (in my humble opinion).

31 Days of Praise One of my favorite books to focus my eyes, heart and mind on the One who is worthy of ALL praise.

Lord, none of us has all of the answers. You alone are the only perfect parent. I give you thanks and praise because you are perfect and I don’t have to be. Thank you for setting me free from the letter of the law and fulfilling your promise to send your Spirit through your One and Only Son, Jesus, in whom salvation comes to all who believe. Amen. 

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

6 thoughts on “Mean Moms, Child Idolatry and the Only Way Out

  1. Our kids are part of who we are and their pain is our pain, isn’t it? I recall dreaming that I sent my sons to school surrounded with bubble-wrap. It’s so hard to watch them get hurt, especially when other adults did not do the protecting they are supposed to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well written and you’ve touched on something I caution against often in ministry….making idols or gods of our children. Most women look at me like I have two heads and have just spoken to them in Greek. What do I mean that we can love our children too much?! How dare I?! A mother is to lay down her life to raise her children up right! Yes, but she isn’t to make them HER life. Anything that comes before the Lord in our lives is the lord of our lives. And to top it all off, what we end up with is children who believe whole-heartedly, with Mom’s encouragement, that they are the exact center of the universe and all must pay homage.

    *Done ranting.*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for ranting a bit with me, Stacy. t gets even worse when there is child idolatry and Husband bashing combined. Anyhoo that is a post for another day. Good to see here you my friend!


  3. Dawn: Your points are valid. I love my son but he is not ME. He had his struggles and I was his mother. When our children hurt, we hurt because once we become mothers, we are always mothers.Our son had specific medical needs that we had to address for several years. We have a friend who raised his daughter by himself; his mother and his sister may have had a lot of input into the young woman’s life.


  4. Dawn, this is SOOO good! Thanks for expressing a biblical perspective on parenting with God’s grace. You’re right, we must not PUSH our children to be PERFECT! We live broken, together.


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