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September 2019

Homemade Faith


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Standing Up to the "Mom Push"

By Amy Rienow


I cannot say for sure when it started, but as long as I have been a mother I have felt what I refer to as a “constant push.” The push moms experience from the time our kids are babies, is a push to do more and expect more from our kids. This sense that we moms need to ensure we are maximizing our kids’ fullest potential is frankly overwhelming. Every area of our kids’ development—social, physical, athletic, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual—all seem to demand a push.

Sure, at times we need to push our children. Our nine-year-old Ray went on a trip last summer with his grandparents and his cousin. While he was excited to go, he was also quite anxious about the whole thing. He needed several “mom-pushes” to help him overcome his fear and enjoy the trip. At times, pushing our kids is helpful, but we need to do it according to our decision about what is best for our kids—not pressure from the culture around us.

This pressure applies to all moms, whether at home with their kids or in the workforce. Somehow, we unconsciously believe the same lie: we carry the responsibility to raise our kids perfectly. That sounds ridiculous! Who actually believes that? Sadly, many of us do without realizing it. We experience underlying pressure as moms to get it all right. We understand we face a little window of time called childhood, and we want to give our kids the best chance of success. We want them to be in great schools, great activities, and excel at them all. The cultural “mom-push” is that uneasy sensation you can always do more for your kids. It is an idealistic expectation that you can pave a beautiful, smooth road for your kids that will enable them to drive into the world of adult success.

One of the best ways to learn as a mom is to hang out regularly with other moms in the next stage of parenting. Being blessed with many wise friends who have kids slightly older than mine, I have often clung to their wisdom. One such “next stage” friend of mine, Stephanie, gave me valuable wisdom when my oldest son graduated from high school.

RW’s high school experience had ups and downs like most kids. His senior year was rather emotional for me. While much of it was filled with enjoying the fruit of all the hard work of parenting, I also experienced a regular evaluation of my “mom choices.” I was unprepared for the sense of regret I began to feel, questioning some of the choices Rob and I made. Did we make the right educational choices? Should I have pushed him to do percussion team? Would it have been better if I had sent him to the public school? These questions were not nearly as bad as the “should have” thoughts that regularly floated through my brain. Thoughts like, I should have pushed him to develop his math gifts more. I should have gone to more of his games. I should not have over-parented him so much. I was hard on myself unnecessarily because of an uneasy feeling it was possible to parent without regrets, to parent perfectly.

My friend Stephanie gave me a beautiful picture that now guides me in my mom mission. She said, “Amy, when you look back at the 18 years of RW in your home, you see a road with potholes, and you are focusing on the potholes. What you are not seeing is the beautiful road. What is worse, you actually think the road is supposed to have no potholes! There is no such thing as a smooth, paved road for any of our kids. Now, let me tell you what you cannot see. As RW leaves your home, you are going to see how God paves the potholes. God is going to fill—according to His plan, not yours—the potholes in RW’s road.”

You cannot parent without potholes, whether the potholes are your mistakes, circumstances you cannot change, a difficult school environment, or a lack of good friends. Your kids and you will experience many disappointments in the growing-up years. By the time our kids are 18, some of their childhood dreams will have come and gone. They may never play on the varsity basketball team, make a school musical, or have a close group of friends. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit these dreams were not just for our kids; they were our dreams as well.

When dreams don’t come true, where do you want your kids to go for comfort and guidance? I want them to come to me or to their dad. If my kids feel my most important goal was pushing them to greatness, they will not come to me when greatness is eluding them. However, if heart-connected relationship is clearly the most important goal in my parenting, my kids will want to come to me when their dreams are fading. They will not value themselves based on performance. Instead, my kids will know I value them for who they are.

Mom, you can’t do it all, and your kids can’t do it all. Stand up to the “mom-push” and start pushing back. You may not believe it, but your kids do want to have heart-connected relationships with you. A loving relationship with you builds resilience in your kids to deal with the inevitable disappointments that are part of life—everyone’s life. Make sure your kids know you are pleased with them for who they are rather than what they are becoming.

About the Writer: Amy Rienow and her husband Rob founded Visionary Family Ministries, a ministry created to equip parents, encourage couples, and help families live for Christ. She is the author of several books including Visionary Parenting, Visionary Marriage, and Shine: Embracing God’s Heart for You. Amy attended University of Illinois and Wheaton College Graduate School where she earned an MA in Clinical Psychology. She has her hands full as a busy mom, speaking at women’s events, and serving in the worship ministry at church. Order Amy Rienow's latest book, Not So Perfect Mom, at


©2019 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists