Am I Raising Judgmental Kids?

As I’m soldiering through these tween years, I have a new respect for mommas who’ve raised well-balanced, know right-from-wrong adults who also have a deep, true genuine love for everyone.

It’s not easy. Here’s how this has played out in our house:

We teach them our core values. The things we want to stick. The things we think are decision-making foundations. Things that are important to us.

We repeat them over and over. We model them. We use our own past mistakes to try and teach them why we want them to do better than we did.

Here are a few important values for our family:

Sex is a gift for marriage. Wait until you’re married, it will be safe and enjoyable.

Respect your body. God created you and lives in you. Don’t use drugs, show too much skin, etc. Protect your mind and heart from destructive stuff (including images on screens).

Persevere. Don’t quit. Follow the dreams God puts in your heart. Work hard. Don’t ever be lazy.

Integrity. Don’t do the right thing for recognition. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Even if you stand alone, stand up for the right thing.

They eventually get it. You notice it in their behavior. You hear them repeating one of your statements. Those core values are engrained in their little hearts. It’s black and white. There are no shades of gray (sorry, I couldn’t resist). This is right, that is wrong.

Then, they see things. They hear things. And some of it doesn’t match our family values.

Our trying-to-figure-it-out tween says, “You know my friend at church? She showed me an inappropriate picture on her phone. Should I still be her friend?”

“When I saw the news today, the singer I love with that cute new song was wearing an outfit that showed a lot of skin. Now, I don’t even know if I like that song.”

And, here comes the judgment.
(*By the way, I altered those scenarios to protect my tween and the other parties involved.)

They’re learning to make decisions based on our core family values and when others don’t follow those same rules, they start to judge.

This is what I’ve discovered in my mothering journey: the talk that happens next is equally as important as instilling those core values. Because, this is when we teach them to love.

We tell them — no one is perfect. We all mess up. It doesn’t make it right, but we are not supposed to judge. God tells us to love. The one-liner I use a thousand times a week is “We’re all still learning.”

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13

That verse is good. That verse in action is even better. My kids need to see me love people who’ve offended me. It’s even more important to show them how to love. They’ll see me loving someone with whom I don’t agree with on a certain value, and they’ll learn to love everyone.

So, I want to hear from you. I’m still in this journey trying to figure it out. How do you keep the balance of instilling foundational truths important to you, while also teaching your kids to love those who don’t follow the same values?

Help, I need a new attitude!

Several years ago, I sat in a Mothers of Preschoolers[1] meeting and the guest speaker asked us to write down our favorite childhood memory. My mind flooded with silent giggles as I recalled mixing water and dirt, then filling the aluminum pans. I would create a make-believe oven from bricks and bake the brown, gooey pie. Finally, the most exciting part of all … when the mud-pies were finished “baking,” I would throw them at the largest oak tree in my grandma’s backyard. This simple activity has become etched in my mind as my all-time favorite childhood memory.

The speaker challenged us to put that piece of paper in a visible location as a reminder each day about taking time to enjoy those small precious moments with our children. So, I put the small leaf-sized paper on my fridge and saw it every day. It helped, and I remembered.

{Leaf with the Life Lesson}

{Leaf with the Life Lesson}


Years after hearing that speaker, I was having one of those extra-chaotic days. The to-do list was overwhelming – there wasn’t a clean towel in the house, lots of unanswered emails in my in-box, bills to pay, class party to plan – my plate was full. I was overwhelmed, grouchy and found myself lacking patience. That was it, I give up! I slammed the fridge shut and then I saw the leaf with the life lesson.

My children and I went into our backyard and made mud-pies! We used the back of my son’s monster truck as our oven, then threw our messy creations at the fence. We giggled. We had fun. We made precious memories! Their enthusiasm and energy were contagious. I relished in their smiles and the muddy handprints on my clothes. I became appreciative again.

After our adventure, I had a whole new perspective and was blessed with the attitude adjustment I needed. After that boost, I knocked out the to-do list and finished the laundry. Then, I sat down with my daughter as she wrote in her take-home journal about her favorite weekend activity. It had been busy – a few hours at Six Flags, seeing friends at church, a good friend’s birthday party, those were my suggestions. She sweetly said, “Mom, the most fun I had this weekend was making mud-pies with you.”

{Daugher's Journal Entry}

{Daugher’s Journal Entry}


Life is busy. Motherhood is crazy and unscripted. No matter what is going on, take a moment and simply enjoy your children. Laugh and have fun. Record the memories on your heart. Your children will treasure it, and you will gain a fresh, new perspective.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”

[1] MOPS is an international organization for mothers who have children ranging in ages from birth – kindergarten.  If you are interested in finding a MOPS group in your area, please go to

Prepartum/Postpartum Depression

On the outside, everything seemed fine. I had a happy marriage, healthy three-year-old daughter and new baby baking. My husband had a great job, and I was able to fulfill my dream of being a stay-at-home mom. Yes, it appeared to be all bliss.

Inside, I was dying. I was stuck in a real hell. I cried all the time. I lived in a fog. For the first and only time in my life, I didn’t even want to live.

Everyone told me I should be glowing, happy, excited. But, I couldn’t think logically. I felt like an outcast that no one understood. This wasn’t a few bad days, normal hormones or lack of energy. I had been pregnant before, this was completely different. It was like I was watching myself slowly disappear, but I didn’t have the strength to fight. I didn’t care. I was hopeless.

I had been reluctant to visit my doctor because I felt ashamed and weak. Why can’t I just be happy? My husband insisted that I make an appointment. It was then I heard the diagnosis, “You have severe prepartum depression.”

What? I love my life, how could I be depressed? I was immediately prescribed medication and referred to a counselor.

Seeking medical treatment was only the first step to my recovery. I coupled it with the support from my counselors, family and friends. I opened up about what I was really feeling inside. Through the whole process, I tried to keep the faith. I prayed, “Lord, I can’t do this. It’s just you and me. Jesus, please be my strength.” I had this verse posted all over my house:

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10

There was not an overnight fix, I learned that beating depression is a process. It took months to finally feel like me again. I remember my mentor saying, “You will start seeing glimpses of yourself.” She was right. I would think a happy thought and realize that actually felt like me. Eventually, my normal, joyful thoughts returned and the negative, overwhelming fog evaporated entirely. Now, five years later, I feel so blessed that God carried me through and made me a stronger person.

I had never struggled with depression. Before this experience, I thought it was someone choosing not to be happy. Oh, I was so wrong and stupid! With my prepartum depression, there was no choice in having it, only in how I was going to deal with it.

My depression got worse because I made a terrible mistake … I didn’t get help right away. It takes incredible strength and courage to ask for help. Visit your doctor immediately. Seek support. Keep the faith. Open up. Fight for yourself. Never, ever give up!