So much of parenting culture assumes that we are responsible for our children’s happiness. It was almost shocking to hear this isn't true!
Just one verse each day.
Every now and then, something comes along that changes your perspective. I started to see my vocation to motherhood in a new light after I accepted a friend’s invitation to go to a night of recollection for moms at her parish.
The recollection was a beautiful experience. The priest, Father Steven Borello, spoke about many issues and concerns moms face, including some funny stories of his experiences babysitting for his three sisters’ children!
One thing he said really affected me. He encouraged all the moms in attendance to say out loud, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I renounce the lie that I am responsible for my children’s happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ, I renounce the lie that I am responsible for my children’s salvation.”
I’ve found myself frequently thinking about these statements in the weeks since I heard him speak. So much of parenting culture assumes that we are responsible for our children’s happiness and salvation. It was almost shocking to hear that these are lies we need to renounce!
As a mom of four young children, I can tell you that they are rarely all happy at the same time. And they are usually the kids bouncing around making noise in absolutely any situation. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders when Father Borello encouraged us moms not to take these situations personally.
I reached out to Father Borello to learn more about why these beliefs are false, and why they’re so commonly believed. Here’s what he told me.
In your experience, why have you found these lies to be so easily believable for moms?
Father Borello: I believe that from a young age we were encouraged to not only be responsible to those around us, but to actually take responsibility for other people. We might be asked questions like, “Why do you think this person did that, or what could you have done differently that would have brought about a different outcome?”
The reality is that we cannot be responsible for another person’s choices because they come from within. As a parent, we are responsible to our children to bring them up in the faith, to teach them right and wrong, good and evil, and to provide them with the opportunity to encounter God.
However, nowhere is a parent responsible for how their child chooses to respond. A child will certainly be influenced by the parents’ witness, but it remains the child’s choice as to how they respond to what happens.
Further, I think the culture places a tremendous amount of pressure on moms to have their children be and act a certain way, which can lead to this sense that “I am responsible for what my child is doing” and the sense of judgment from other parents. I have seen this at Mass when a child is acting out — how people look at the family.
Why is it important for a mother’s inner peace and holiness to renounce these lies?
Father Borello: These lies keep us trapped in structures of belief that affect our thoughts and actions.
The lies influence the way a mother judges herself and those around her. They keep her living out of expectations that do not come from God, but rather the culture or what she herself learned as a child.
The lies keep her from hearing God’s voice because they are like resounding gongs that cloud the mind and heart from the truths God desires to speak. He desires to reassure the mother of His love for her and the work of salvation he is bringing about in her life through the sorrows and joys of marriage and motherhood.