Control and Motherhood

by Elisa Morgan

To go deeper on the topic of women and control, see Are You in Control? and Control in Marriage.

She shot off the starting block, dove shallow and surfaced into her freestyle race. The bright sunlight bouncing off the azure water stung my eyes, but I wasn't taking my sight off her progress. At 9, my daughter was a summer-league swim star, and high expectations hung over her effort.

Bam! The 25 yards were over, and she hoisted her body out of the water. I wasn't exactly sure of her place in the heat, but it looked good. Maybe not first, but close?

When the results were posted, Eva had taken sixth place. What? I couldn't believe it! Sure, the top eight places went to finals, but sixth? I thought she had been second or third.

And I told her so.

Shrugging, Eva responded with, "Why does it matter, Mom? I'm still in the finals."

How like her. How like me. As Mom — Controller Of All Things — I always thought I knew exactly what was best for my daughter. As a 9-month-old: Sleep through the night, please! As a 9-year-old: Sixth place — really? And later as a 19-year-old: Don't date him!

I'm reminded of the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who asked Jesus if her sons could sit next to Him in His kingdom. And Jesus' response: "You do not know what you are asking. . . . To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father" (Matthew 20:22-23).

We don't get to control our kids. Their choices. Their consequences. Their place in the race of life.

It's tempting to believe that moms know best because we've known our children longer and better than anyone else. Debunking such mythology requires that we accept the real responsibilities divinely entrusted to us as moms: to feed, clothe, nurture, teach, discipline, love — and release our children to God.

During a very trying time when my children were headed in directions I'd never imagined, a respected Christian leader told me, "Elisa, we are not responsible for our children's choices. We are responsible for our responses to their choices."

We can't control what we can't control. The weather. The traffic. How our kids choose to live. And whether our child gets first or sixth place.

So I stand back. I raise my hands. I choose what I can control today: My attitude and my reaction. And I clap for my sixth-place winner.

Elisa Morgan served as CEO of MOPS International for 20 years. She is now publisher of FullFill magazine and author of The Beauty of Broken: My story and likely yours too.

A portion of this article appeared in the October/November 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled "Letting Go of What We Can't Control." Copyright © 2013 by Elisa Morgan. Used by permission.

Did you enjoy reading this? Subscribe to Thriving Family, a faith-based marriage and parenting magazine!


Special Needs & the Challenge of Change

Special Needs & the Challenge of Change

Helping kids deal with daily transitions

Rekindling Intimacy

Rekindling Intimacy

Overcoming challenges in the bedroom

Book Reviews for Parents

Book Reviews for Parents

Read our teen and tween book reviews for parents.

Thriving Family Archives

Thriving Family Archives

Articles from the magazine and the website

Experience the Bible in historical context with Ray Vander Laan


90 more ideas your kids will eat up!