The Challenge of Motherhood, Part 1

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, Motherhood, WomanhoodLeave a Comment

Motherhood is complicated. It is the hardest job. It is the most rewarding job. Too often, we make this tough job even harder. We sabotage ourselves by falling into age-old traps common to every mother in history.

Have you ever noticed that every single child was born AFTER Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden? The consequences of their sin has affected every mother in history! Not a single mother gave birth before the curse of sin.

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…”Genesis 3:16a ESV

Pain. And more pain. The King James Version of the Bible translates the word “pain” as “sorrow”. The first use of the word “sorrow” in this verse is the Hebrew word, itstsabown. It means labor, toil, and suffering. Those who have experienced or witnessed childbirth can definitely attest to the intense pain involved! Even pregnancy is filled with pain and discomfort. According to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, this word indicates bodily or mental pain. Curiously, the Lexicon’s first definition is “an idol”.

The second use of “sorrow” in this verse is from the Hebrew word, etseb. It also carries the meaning of pain, sorrow, and hardship related to an “earthen vessel”. Interestingly enough, this word can also be translated as “idol”. (Jeremiah 22:28.) God used two different words to describe the pain and agony of motherhood—yet BOTH of those words have an underlying reference to idolatry.

How many times have I been guilty of idolizing my children? Perhaps I idolized them when I put their childish desires before my husband’s needs. Or maybe I idolized them when I catered to their whining, making the whole family tip-toe around their moodiness. My idolatry might have even more subtle. Like the times when I heard a bad report about my child, but in my mind, I assumed it must have been the other child’s fault. After all, my baby wouldn’t do that!

There is an odd connection between idolatry and pain in these words. Am I creating more pain in motherhood by idolizing my children? Does this unhealthy perversion of the mother/child relationship create a lifetime path of pain?

A look at my own idolizing tendencies reveals a startling answer.

When I put my children’s wishes ahead of my husband’s needs, I endanger our marriage. (I’m not talking about children’s needs…only their wishes.) A strong marriage gives my children a stable home-life and security. Prioritizing my marriage teaches my kids that while they are important, they are not the center of the universe. In contrast, prioritizing them about all teaches them to be demanding and selfish. A self-centered child grows up to be a maladjusted adult with broken relationships. Thus, idolatry progresses to sorrow.

When I refuse to recognize my children’s faults, I rob them of the opportunity to grow and learn. The key to their relationships with their Heavenly Father is humility and repentance. By clinging to my “little angel’s” innocence, I am silently (or not-so-silently) teaching them that their life problems are the fault of others. I am failing to train them to examine their own sins in humility so that they can receive forgiveness and healing from their Father.

When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.Proverbs 11:2 HCSB

Because I don’t want my children to experience the pain of disgrace, I must teach them a healthy humility. When my children bow their wills to the Creator of the universe, they experience life and happiness.

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.Proverbs 14:27 HCSB

Fellow moms, we have a really hard job. Let’s support each other. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s teach our children to walk in humility and the fear of God.

Dear Father, please forgive me for the times I have idolized my children. Forgive me for teaching them that they can demand their own way. Forgive me for failing to recognize their sins. Help me to teach them to put others first in a healthy manner. Give me the wisdom to teach them how to come to You in repentance. Help me to recognize and forsake my own sins so that I can help them with theirs. Keep me from adding unnecessary pain to an already tough job. Thank You, Father, for loving me and guiding me. Thank You for loving my children. Amen.

This blog was adapted from my new Bible study, Discover True Womanhood, Week Three. Subscribe below for updates on the release of this unique study.

About Carol Dunfee

Carol is a wife, mom, piano teacher, and blogger for Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry. Having grown up in church, life made her dissatisfied with empty religious traditions and trite answers. She discovered that Jesus alone is the way to real life and true contentment. Ever stumbling and learning herself, she invites her readers to experience God’s love and forgiveness like never before. Read more at

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