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Questions and Answers for Young Moms

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Author: Murphy Toerner

Questions and Answers for Young Moms: These questions were submitted to Christian counselor, writer, and speaker Murphy Toerner (who works in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more articles by Murphy, please go to: www.murphytoerner.com.

1a. Is it bad for me to want to have time by myself? (I am a mother of several small children.) Also, I feel guilty about spending money on myself. What is that about?

A -- Every person on earth is designed to "need" time alone. In our culture, it is not highly promoted or sought. We are encouraged to live life at an unnatural pace. Our schedules are packed with our personal agendas but also we are overwhelmed with the pre-school; school; and after school schedules, demands, activities of and events of our children. (Consequently, this "unnatural pace" is accepted as normal or the acceptable standard.)

I am curious about the number of people have been officially or unofficially diagnosed as having ADD/ADHD, who in actuality are suffering from "stimulation over-load." We have lost the art of being quiet and still. We live as though we are addicted to adrenaline. We drink coffee and sodas all day for the caffeine. Then, we can't relax to go to sleep. WE NEED TIME ALONE. WE NEED TIME TO BE QUIET.

Secondly, (about spending the money) ... Sometimes we feel guilty about spending money because we are spending money on ourselves or others in somewhat frivolous ways. God uses a sense of guilt in this case to get us to stop doing something that we don't need to be doing. This is "healthy guilt" and like "healthy shame" these are used by God to guide, correct, redirect us, train us, awaken our conscience.

Sometimes, we don't feel good about treating ourselves well or splurging on ourselves. I do not believe that God is the author of this attitude. He wants us to be good stewards of all that he has given us... including ourselves. He wants us to be good stewards of other things that we have dominion over.

Sometimes, we are hesitant to spend something on ourselves because we think that our husbands will praise us for being extra frugal or operating with self-denial. This seldom produces the outcome we were hoping for. Usually, our husbands are not aware of our "manipulative ways" to get their praise and approval. Most of the time, when we don't buy something, our husbands will tend to believe that we did not get it: (1) because we sincerely did not want it; (2) or because it did not fit; (3) or because we want something else and are planning to get the new item at another time.

Here's the deal. If you want to buy two tee shirts at Wal-Mart and you know that you can afford it and that you haven't gotten anything new in a long, long time ... go get the shirts. Don't go over-board, but don't go into some kind of "self-denial" to get love and approval that you already have (from your husband.) Sometimes, if you need affirmation from your husband, you could just ask him to affirm you.

1b. I am the mother of 3 small children who stay at home with me almost every day. I do not want to put any of them in day care but feel like I need some time to myself. I have 2 hours each week at present when I am alone or by myself. I feel like I need more but feel selfish about wanting more. How much time away is appropriate? How do I address this with my husband when there is little to no money to afford more time away?

A-- This question involves several dynamics, and it is a great question to help us use "a hierarchy of God-given precepts" which can be helpful in making decisions.

There are some things that you can change and some things you can not easily change. You can not easily change the number of children you have. (It usually takes 9 months.) Nor can you instantly change their ages. These are governed by natural laws and physical laws and laws of time and space. The amount of income a family has to live on is also relatively "fixed." (Even a job change takes "time.")

You report having two hours alone each week. (It is not important how I or anyone else assesses the sufficiency of your "alone" time. Your awareness of what you need is the important factor. WHAT DO YOU YOU BELIEVE WOULD BE AMPLE (or improved) TIME? It is your quality of life; it is your well-being that needs to be weighed and measured. If you are certain that you need more time...then, you need more time.

Your ability to enjoy an increase in "alone" time will depend on your ability to think outside of the box. What is your current support system like ... including your husband, his extended family, your extended family, your friends, neighbors, and babysitter options. I believe that you could find "some" more time for yourself. Ask your husband for input or some of the other moms of Moms.com to help you think of some options.

About the author

Murphy Toerner has been a Christian counselor in private practice in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, since 1992. She is also a writer and retreat speaker. If you are interested in more information about Murphy, please check her website: www.murphytoerner.com.

mtoerner@hotmail.com


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