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My Child Is Not a Reflection of Me

My Child Is Not a Reflection of Me

I’ll never forget the day my toddler daughter was having a temper tantrum on the grocery store floor. An older woman slowly walked by looking at my daughter and then me. I knew what she was thinking, “Bad child. Bad mom.” I felt horrified. I thought, “Why can’t I control this child? I’m a pitiful mom.”

A few years later, I was in that same grocery store and my toddler son walked along, holding onto the side of the cart never straying to grab something. An older woman slowly walked by looking at my son and then me. I knew what she was thinking, “Good child. Good mom.” But I didn’t feel proud. I thought, “Now I know the truth. My child is not a reflection of me!”

I learned that truth after responding to a strong-willed little girl and a calm, laid-back little boy who were opposites and yet came from the same mom and dad. Although my husband and I were certainly responsible to respond in the most godly ways we could, the personalities of our children largely dictated their responses—not just our responses to them.

That meant my children were not a reflection of me—to a huge degree. Originally I thought if I could be a perfect mom, I could have perfect children. But we all know a mom or dad who parents poorly but their child behaves well. And we all know parents who are conscientious parents and their children are strong-willed.

Even Jesus, the perfect “parent/discipler” had disciples who disobeyed. Certainly, those disciples should have been perfect, but they weren’t. Jesus didn’t blame Himself. He knew they would continue to grow but could never be perfect.

When I speak on this subject, I often gently say in a joking manner, “If you have one child and it seems your child behaves well because of your wonderful parenting, please have another child.” I hope I don’t offend anyone, but from the grins from the majority of the moms who used to be the one-child mom, they have learned every child is different in personality and level of strong-will.

I also stress at those times that we do need to become the best parent we can: going to parenting classes, reading books, and finding wise mentors for instruction. But a large degree of stress is relieved when we give up the unrealistic belief that our child is a reflection of us.

My adult daughter—you know, the strong-willed one—has a fifteen-month-old daughter who is the most darling and cooperative child. At this point. We all joke waiting to see if she will become more like her mom or if she’ll be like her uncle—you know, the laid back kid. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, she and her husband are making every effort to respond in loving and wise ways to that precious creation of God.

By: Kathy Collard Miller ( is the author of more than 50 books, including her most recent: Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. She has spoken in 8 countries and over 30 US states on parenting, marriage, and spiritual growth. Her passion is to equip women to trust God more with a heart change. She and her husband of 47 years, live in Southern California. Kathy has two adult children and 2 grandchildren.

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