Hoodwinked: Building Bridges, Not Fences When Others Mother Differently

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Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. — Ephesians 4:2-3

Watch the Video

Play the video teaching segment for session one. As you watch, record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.

Notes

Piece by piece we have crafted in our imagination a stunning mosaic of just what a mom should be — one who does things right and whose kids turn out right. There is one slight problem — a mosaic is not real.

In a quest to be this fictitious woman we somehow begin to believe a lot of myths of motherhood that can leave us hoodwinked, hassled, and even heartbroken.

One myth we believe is this: The way I mother is the right and only way.

Sometimes when we think we are “right,” we are actually just being self-righteous. And if you follow the ugly thread of self-righteousness all the way to its gnarly, knotted end, you will find it is rooted in immaturity.

First Corinthians 3:1-9 tells us this about divisions in the body of Christ:

  • Divisions distract.
  • They stunt our growth.
  • The issue isn’t who is doing what, but are you acting maturely when you interact with someone who does things differently?

John 13:35 says everyone will know we are Christ’s disciples if we love one another. We begin to choose sides. The Corinthians said, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos.” Today we say, “I follow famous Dr. So-and-So,” or “I follow popular Mommy Blogger So-and-So.” 
Be very careful with the use of the word never. We may be placing our order for a big ol’ slice of humble pie when we do.

Seek unity, not uniformity.

Run to God, not to the experts. Use experts as resources, not as lifestyles.

Know your place, but grant others grace.

Build bridges, not fences.

Group discussion

Take a few minutes to discuss what you just watched.

  1. What part of the video teaching had the most impact on you?
  2. As a group, name as many areas as you can where moms have strong opinions about the “right” way to raise kids. Ready? Go!
  3. Can you think of an example when you thought you knew the right and only way to mother in a particular area — whether it was before you became a mother or since? Describe the situation.

Cluster Group Activity 

If your group has more than twelve members, consider completing this activity in smaller groups of three to six people each.

Have women in the cluster groups take turns reading aloud Ephesians 4:1-6 in as many Bible translations as you can. (You may view several translations on a tablet or smartphone at Biblegateway.com.) Have one person record the various words used that describe how we are to treat each other.

  • What do you learn from recording these particular words and phrases about how we should behave when we encounter a mom who mothers differently than we do?
  • Are there any guidelines you can draw out of this passage for how we can be- have in the future when rubbing shoulders with someone — especially another believer — who has a very different way of raising kids than we do? Can you think of a specific example that pertains to a real-life, current situation?

Group discussion

Gather back together as one large group and answer the following questions.

  1. What is one insight you gained from the cluster group activity based on Ephesians 4:1-6?
  2. In the video segment, Karen mentioned some observations found in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 about how we sometimes behave toward others. Have someone read the passage aloud to the group. (Consider reading it in a couple different Bible translations.) Then, say it in a sentence. In other words, craft a sentence that makes an observation or gives a directive based on this passage, and also cite the verse where you found it. Example: When we argue and quarrel with each other, it proves we are letting our sinful nature control us rather than letting the Holy Spirit control us (1 Corinthians 3:3).
  3. Karen mentioned that we see from this passage that divisions distract. They can certainly distract us from our missions as moms. How have you seen divisions distract moms, keeping them from focusing on raising their kids as they debate with others about the right — or best — way to parent? Tell the group about it. (But be cautious not to name names!)
  4. In the video we were encouraged to “be careful with using the word never” in our mothering. Truth time! Do any of you recall a situation — as when Karen declared she’d never, ever use baby formula but then did — when you uttered the phrase “I’ll never,” but then had to eat those words? What happened?
  5. In the teaching segment, we were cautioned against using experts as lifestyle guides — adopting every single thing they say as truth and following all of their advice without even praying about it. How can we be careful to use experts as resources rather than authorities with the final word? If you can, offer an example of a question to ask ourselves before following a piece of advice.
  6. “Know your place, but grant others grace.” What do you think of that statement? What are some ways you can “know the place” God has for you in parenting a particular child at a particular time, but can also extend grace to other mothers who differ in their approach?
  7. “Build bridges, not fences.” When it comes to the mothers you know personally, which do you see more of: bridge building or fence erecting? Take a show of hands in the room for both.

Can you think of a specific way to build a beautiful bridge with another mother rather than erect an ugly fence? For example: a mom who homeschools could send a handwritten note to a public school mom telling her she will be praying for her kids and their teachers each week during the school year. Or, a public school mom could take her children to a homeschool science fair or sporting event to show support for a homeschool mom.

  1. Have someone read aloud Luke 6:27-36. How does this passage apply to bridge building with those who may think differently than we do about raising children? Draw out a few principles from this portion of Scripture about how we are to treat others with whom we don’t always see eye to eye.

Individual Activity: What Is God Saying to Me?

Complete this activity on your own.

Take a mental inventory of your life. Are there any aspects of mothering about which you tend to be even a tad dogmatic now or about which you were earlier in your mothering days? Checkmark any areas below:

  • ❑  Birth plan (drugs or earth birth, home or hospital, etc.)
  • ❑  Type of adoption (foreign or domestic, private agency or foster care system)
  • ❑  Nursing versus baby formula
  • ❑  Cloth versus disposable diapers
  • ❑  Infant sleeping arrangements
  • ❑  Feeding of children (store-bought baby food or homemade, organic foods only, specific diet — vegan, paleo, etc.)
  • ❑  Schooling options
  • ❑  Discipline methods
  • ❑  Type of church attended
  • ❑  Chores (and payment for chores) for kids, or whether teens should have jobs
  • ❑  Kids’ clothing choices
  • ❑  Teens driving, having curfews, etc.
  • ❑  Music, media, and technology allowed for kids
  • ❑  Dating, courtship, or other plan for teens and young adults
  • ❑  Other: _____________________________________________________________

Now, go back and star the one or two areas where you most feel God may be prompting you to know your place but grant others grace.

Closing Prayer

Have one person close in prayer.

* * *

Your Turn

Come share your answers to the Hoodwinked Study Session 1 questions and your comments on our blog! We would love to hear from you!

Hoodwinked

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Karen Ehman

Karen Ehman is the Director of Speakers for Proverbs 31 Ministries' national speaking team. Her books include Let.It.Go, A Life That Says Welcome, The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized and the popular ebook Untangling Christmas: Your Go-to Guide for a Hassle-free Holiday. She is a favorite presenter at Hearts at Home moms’ conferences and a sought-after speaker for women’s events. She has been a guest on national television and radio programs, including The 700 Club, Engaging Women, The Harvest Show, Moody Midday Connection and Focus on the Family. Karen also is a contributor to Focus on the family’s magazine Thriving Family. She lives with her family in central Michigan.

Ruth Schwenk

Like you, Ruth wears many hats! She loves being the wife of a pastor, who is her best friend and love of her life. She is a grateful homeschooling mom of four beautiful children, and also a hopeful mom who looks forward to seeing her five miscarried children in heaven. Ruth is a graduate of The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. On August 1st, 2011, Ruth launched TheBetterMom.com, a site dedicated to moms who want to be better moms by sharing life and learning together, to the glory of God. In September 2013, her and her husband launched FortheFamily.org, dedicated to helping Christian families. Ruth’s passions include, loving God, leading worship, and inspiring others to have a God honoring family.

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