Should I Be Tough or Tender as a Mom?


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Up until about a week ago, I would ask myself the same question every morning: ‘Should I be a mean mommy or a nice mommy today?’ I was allowing my attitude towards my family be determined by the mood I woke up in or by my child’s behavior that morning {and let me tell you, the temptation to be mean mommy is almost unbearable when your toddler sneaks out of her room and pours the entire bottle of coffee creamer on the kitchen floor. Nothing says good morning like a sticky, wet sock and black coffee}.

But then I found an amazing devotional by one of my favorites, Michelle Meyers, called Famous In Heaven and at Home. There’s a verse in Proverbs she references that has truly changed it all for me. Proverbs 31:21 says, ‘She is not afraid of the snow — Of any injuries of the weather. For her household are clothed with scarlet.’ But, what does snow or scarlet have to do with motherhood? A little backstory… during the time this verse was written, scarlet was a dye that only the most precious fabric would take to, due to its tenderness. The symbolism behind the snow is harshness. Are you starting to see the connection?

It snowed here in New York this morning. Coincidence? I think not. While it was snowing, I asked myself: What do I need to do to prepare for this storm? And as moms we need to be asking similar questions about raising a family, cultivating a marriage- all of the things. What snow {or storms} do we need to be preparing for and take head on, in a way that's also tender?


Here are a few questions I came up with to help us to work through this:

1. Are you praying that our children would know the Lord?

Ladies, I have friends whose children don't know the Lord and it has been a storm unlike any other. It has been really, really hard in all aspects of their relationship. We need to make sure that we're praying for our children so that as they grow older, they are following the Lord and truly loving him. Not because we say so, but because that's what is best for our children; Remember that the Lord provides the most fulfilling life.

2.  Are you careful about what comes into your house?

Part of our job is to protect our children. While this looks different for everybody, we can all agree, we must be careful about what comes into our home- the movies, TV shows, magazines, even the people who walk through our door; We're called to be hospitable but we have to be wise about who we allow our kids to spend time with.

3. Are you scheduling your time in a way that allows your children know they are your top priority?

I’ll just leave it at that. Lord knows I could go on for days about time management. #timemanagementgeek

4. Are you disciplining your children?

This is really hard for me as a mom. I do not enjoy discipline. I'm sure you don’t enjoy discipline either. But are you doing the grunt work of disciplining your kids with the ultimate goal of them respecting and obeying you & other authorities in the future? Moms, if we're not doing this heartbreaking task for our children, we're doing them a disservice.


Phew. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the discipline that’s easier for me: Tenderness. Here are some questions we should ask to ensure we’re tender towards our family:

1. Are you tender towards the needs of your family?

Are you so in tune with your husband and your children that you know what they need, when they need it? Maybe they need their laundry done at a certain time for that soccer game or dinner ready at a certain hour so they can complete the rest of the work on their to-do list.

2. Are they truly your number-one priority?

I know it's easy for us to say something along the lines of : “I fed them dinner, clothed them, etc.- of course they're my top priority.” But, in your heart, are you genuinely most concerned about the needs of your family? Are you constantly asking yourself ‘How can I better serve my family and be in touch with their needs?’

3. Does your scheduling allow you to serve them best?


Many of you know that I am an online business coach. I run my own business which requires me to make sure that I schedule my time in a way that doesn't give my husband or my children the leftovers. I’ll leave it at that.


In case you didn’t catch it, we need to be both tough and tender. What a challenge, am I right? But, it’s not impossible. Here are three ways we can implement this delicate balance, based on Ted Tripp’s ‘Shepherding a Child’s Heart:

1. Make a distinction between correction and discipline

We are being tender when we're correcting, but sometimes our children out-and-out defy us {insert discipline}. We need to make sure that we are disciplining our defiant children, however, we also need to gently instruct our naive littles. Discipline will look different for everyone, based on your convictions and past.

2. Remember the goal of discipline is restoration

Discipline is so hard and it makes us feel like ‘mean mommy.’ Disobedience makes us angry and hurts us. Therefore the ultimate goal of discipline must be to restore the horizontal relationship and the vertical relationship. When our children disobey us, they disobey God. Our job as mature Christians is to help them be restored with the Lord and help them understand the expectations.

3. Remember that withholding discipline doesn't show love

Disciplining our children is being tender to their needs. I’m going to take it a step further and say that withholding discipline is essentially hating your child. Not my words folks, but His: ‘He who keeps back his rod is unkind to his son: the loving father gives punishment with care.’ Proverbs 13:24  

For more support on your motherhood journey, join the Master Mom’s Facebook group and meet other moms who get it. You’ll not only meet amazing fellow mom warriors, but also Master Mom’s experts on all things motherhood: Jillian Newkirk, Licensed Clinical Counselor {specializing in child behavior}, Stephanie Klinger, Financial Coach, Tiffany Ivey, Licensed Marriage Counselor, Alyssa Lewis, Postpartum Health Coach, and so many other amazing experts and moms!

Ali Christian