The World's Worst Mother


Drum roll please…and "The World's Worst Mother award goes to Francine Westgate!"

Let me first begin by rewinding a tad. Last night, Ethan, my youngest son, who is a senior in high school asked me to sign off on his pre-interim grades. The paper was on the coffee table, so I grabbed my coffee and a pen, and sat down. I glanced over the sheet and smiled in my heart at all of the A’s and B’s he had. Wow, I thought, these grades are really, really good!

Then I opened my mouth and said, “You need to bring that “D” up!”

“I’m trying, Mom.”

“Get help from your math teacher if you need to,” I said, scribbling my signature and handing him the sheet to put in his backpack. And that was the end of that.

This morning, my husband dropped Ethan off at school, and when he got home, he said, “Ethan said, ‘You really hurt his feelings’.”

“When? How?”

“You didn’t tell him how good his grades were. You only pointed out the ‘D’.”

He was right. I suddenly had that sinking feeling of how I felt growing up. How that my mom criticized and pointed out all the things I needed to correct, but failed miserably at affirming the things I did well. I grew up thinking that nothing I did was ever good enough.

Needless to say, it made me incredibly sad that I hurt him, and as I sat thinking about the events of last night, a quote scrolled through my head, “Careless words cause people to love you a little less,” which made me think of Mother Theresa, “But kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

I didn’t send out a beautiful, kind, affirming echo that would resonate and come back to him. Instead, I sent out the echo that “You’re not good enough.”

It would have meant a lot to him if I said, “Your grades are excellent! I love all the A’s and B’s I see, but make sure you bring your math up. Get help from your teacher if you need to! Son, you work so hard day-in-and-day-out at football practice, and yet have managed to keep your grades up. I’m so proud of you!”

So, with tears in my eyes, I sent him this text: “I thought about that after. How good your other grades were. Really great…I should have told you. I meant to tell you! So proud of you! I am so sorry! I loved all the A’s and B’s. You’re doing awesome. Keep it up! I love you! Have a great day!”

Even after sending him the text, I am still heartbroken, because I can’t stop the echo that I’d already issued. But one thing I know is I will be more careful and mindful going forward. I don’t want to ever again miss the opportunity to shape him into the man that he is to become, by failing to affirm him and build him up.

If you are reading this, and I hope you are, let me leave you with one thing: People can’t read your thoughts, so remember to use your words! Words are powerful. They have the ability to build up and to tear down. The scripture states that "The world was framed by the word of God." If that's true. Which I believe it is. Then you have the power to frame your own world, which in return means as a parent, we frame the world of our children. If all we speak is negativity, and criticism, and short-comings, then we are building a ramshackle of a house for them to abide in when they grow up.

Unfortunately, we can't take back the echoes we've already issued, but we can change the message of the echoes going forward. "Gratefulness unexpressed is like wrapping a gift and never giving it." Today, and moving forward, don't assume your children know how much you love them and how great you think they are, but sound it from the rooftops and let it echo in their hearts and in their ears!

I am M.O.R.E than a conqueror...and so are you!

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Francine Westgate

Marvelous . Original . Resilient . Empowered