As I reflect upon my childhood, there’s no doubt in my mind that I came from a very loving home. I never questioned whether my parents really cared about me and were for me. And yet for those who grew up with two functioning and loving parents in the home, how many people reading this could say the same thing? Love and acceptance doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy and emotionally connected family environment. 

This month, we’re reflecting on the kind of relationship we had with our moms growing up. I’m thankful to have had my mom in my life for 39 years. Tragically and suddenly, she passed away in September of 2022. What was even more of a shock to us was the nature of her death: She chose to take her own life. When I received news of her death, I felt my world stop. Everyone’s world stopped. It was truly the most painful experience I’ve ever walked through in life. And so I’ve taken many opportunities over the last two years (almost) to grieve and reflect on my relationship with her. 

I’m an only child. And depending on who’s reading this, that might sound like a blessing to you or a curse. Regardless, I was always my mom’s “little boy”. I never went without love and care from her. And yes, as an only child I was spoiled. But thankfully not to the point of ruin. 

Looking back now at 41 years old and knowing more of mom’s background and childhood, I can see how complicated her life was. She grew up largely without a father, walked through abuse and traumatic situations in life, overcame an alcohol addiction, and battled depression throughout her years of living. And she had the scars to prove it. I think over the years she learned to hide things and developed a sense of shame. Sadly, I don’t know that she ever found freedom from that shame. Regardless, she loved Jesus with all her heart and I know she’s at peace today. 

Why do I share the story of my relationship with my mom? 

Because what we receive and what we don’t receive from our mothers really does matter.

While I knew that my mom loved me deeply, I don’t think she possessed the tools that she needed to teach me specific things that mothers need to teach their children. She simply did her best with what she knew. There’s no doubt in my mind that she was a Christian, but she also lived with pain in her life and areas that perhaps were never surrendered and healed. I wish to this day that I could have done something to help her heal. But then again how could I have asked the child inside to do that? No child is responsible for his parent’s brokenness. 

I want to remind everyone how much I love my parents. They aren’t/weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They had fractures inside of them like any parent does. But it’s important to understand what we learn and inherit from our parents so that we can become better and healthier in our parenting. 

I remember when my parents would have arguments. No one would hit each other or become physical by any means. But there was yelling. And afterwards, my parents would withdraw from each other, which felt like the worst punishment ever. I don’t really remember how they would come back together. Something tells me they would try and push it aside and move on. But to this day I’m still learning to respond differently in my marriage when there is an offense or misunderstanding. I’m learning that my silence feels like punishment to my wife. 

Do you see how easy it is to learn and inherit tendencies from our parents that impact us for a lifetime?

As a young person, I dealt with tremendous shame and guilt over my addiction to porn. Do I think I was more prone to shame because of how I related to one or both of my parents? I’m not sure. But I also can’t remember a specific conversation or series of ongoing conversations about healthy sexuality. I learned (or at least I thought I learned) what sex was through hardcore pornography. 

I want to encourage you to consider spending time with a therapist that specializes in helping you explore a broken or challenged relationship with your parents, namely any kind of mother wounds you might have.

If you have the means and the opportunity, spending time one-on-one with someone who can walk with you through your pain is invaluable. Another experience that will most assuredly advance you in recovery is a communal experience where you are regularly meeting with other individuals. There are many helpful support groups available — both in person and online

I understand that for many reading this post your relationship with your mom might be a very  painful one. Perhaps there were words that were said to you as a child or some kind of behavior  that scarred you. But please understand that just because something was done to you doesn’t mean that you have to live in that place of torment the rest of your life. I believe we serve a God  who can heal the most broken person or relationship. And He’s ready to do it now for you and I!

Commit to the process of exploring your wounds and inviting others in to walk with you through the brokenness. Trust me, when you reach the end of your life, you’ll be glad you did.