“You’re not my friend anymore!” Those were the words I heard my three year old daughter’s friend say to her as they played on our back porch. I couldn’t get myself out the door fast enough to rescue my daughter from the pain that had been inflicted on her. Those five words had awoken my inner “Momma Bear”. It was a feeling new to me, but one that would rear its sometimes ugly head many, many more times.
If you’re a mom reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The Momma Bear can overtake you with no warning when someone says something hurtful to your child, leaves them out of an activity, or any other number of circumstances where you feel your child is being harmed because of unkind words or actions toward them.
The question we must ask ourselves is whether the Momma Bear Syndrome is a productive thing. Are negative experiences bad for our children? I think the answer to this question is “yes” and “no”. We all acknowledge that God has gifted us moms with an inherent desire to protect our children. It’s our job to provide a secure, loving environment for our children and to instill in them the knowledge that they are special, created God’s image. It’s also our job to remind them God designed them just as they are and to help them to be confident of who they are in Christ.
Scripture tells us God allows suffering and trials for our growth, however, sometimes it’s unbearable to see our children suffer. And yet, we must recognize that some degree of pain is not only unavoidable, but valuable. We know God matures us as adults to be more like Him, but we need to accept that He also matures our children through trials. If we never allow them to work through hardships as children, they will not be able to navigate through greater suffering as adults. Our goal as parents shouldn’t be just to give our children a bundle of happy memories, but to help them become mature disciples of Christ who share in His sufferings.
My husband and I have found that as our children have worked through hard times with our guidance and God’s help, they have become more mature in their walk with Christ. We have encouraged them not to become bitter, but to help them see how God can use their hurts to grow them. How do we accomplish this? Here are some thoughts on what you can do:
- Take time to listen to your child and the hurt he has experienced.
- If your child has been in the wrong, bring that to his attention. If not, assure your child of your love for him and of his worth before God.
- Encourage your child not to become bitter, but rather, to pray for those who’ve offended him.
- Point him to the Scriptures. The Bible speaks of the suffering Jesus underwent and tells us that as believers we have the privilege of sharing in His sufferings.
- Pray with him about the hurt and pray for your child with your spouse.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. I Pet. 4:12-13 ESV
~Blessings from a fellow Momma Bear