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How does shame affect the way we parent? We place such high expectations on ourselves, yet sometimes we find that even with the best education and support, our children’s brokenness is more than we can heal. We mothers should be able to heal our children, right? Well, I couldn’t, and I know that many of you can’t either. And while I can extend grace to others with relative ease, I struggle to extend it to myself.

Brene Brown’s research on shame is fascinating. Her TED talk on vulnerability has been viewed over nine million times. Her talk on shame, which she gave a year later, was instrumental in helping me to look at shame in my own life. I struggle with it – and I find there are things I don’t write about because of the shame.

I read this quote a few weeks ago and tucked it away to share with you. It’s from an interview given by Brene Brown.

How has understanding shame and vulnerability changed you as a parent?

Oh, it’s changed everything. My husband’s a pediatrician, so he and I talk about parenting all the time. You can’t raise children who have more shame resilience than you do. Because even if you don’t shame them, and even if you are actively trying to raise them feeling good about who they are, they’re never going to treat themselves better than you treat yourself. So that’s the bad news and the good news, but mostly the sucky news.

If you want to raise a daughter with a really healthy body image, you better love your body as a mother, because that counts way more than looking at your daughter and saying “You’re beautiful and your body is beautiful.” All that matters to her is how she sees you acting with your own body. Which sucks. We can’t give children what we don’t have. We just have to be the adults we hope they grow up to be.

Overcoming shame is inextricably tied to our belief about who Jesus is and what the gospel means. We belong to a loving Father who has washed away our sin and made us “white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). We are new creatures made in His image. We are so loved that He gave his life for us.

So, why do we let the enemy whisper in our ear that we are not enough, that we are failures, that we will never overcome our pasts? We assume guilt for our children’s behavior that does not belong to us. We question the path we’ve taken in seeking help for them – and we doubt the choices we’ve made. We worry far too much about what people think.

I’m working this through in my own life, and I hope some of you are with me on this journey. I just bought the book, Shame Interrupted, and plan to read it (along with the other books in my ridiculously huge stack) this summer. Anybody care to join me?

Thank you for sharing my life, friends.

Encourage one another,


  1. Chantelle (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    It's like you know what I'm feeling even before I do… and then you write about and my eyes are opened. Thank you, again.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      Chantelle, I know you are on this journey, too. I'm glad to have you with me.

  2. Mandy Halverson (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    This resonates so strongly with me. Wow.

  3. Coffee on (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    Just bought it on. Kindle. I'm in.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      I think we should have our group discussion at your house – since you probably make good coffee. :-)

  4. linedancergal (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    I hesitate to comment because I do not have any adopted children and so have never been in your situation. However I think everyone understands the concept of shame. Whether it's in our parenting, our jobs, our relationships or something else, pretty much everyone feels shame sometime. One thing I have learned is that we are called to live in the plan God has for us. We are NOT called to fix everything for everyone. Yes it is part of your job to love Dimples, to discipline her, to teach her and train her, but you cannot heal her. Jesus is the only one who can do that. She's not a little baby that just needs a cuddle. She has a mind of her own, and if she doesn't want to be healed then you can't make her.
    When it really comes to it, it sounds like what you are ashamed of, is not being God. But He only made you human. All you do is ask what is yours to do today and then do it. You don't have to do more than that.
    By the way, I have found that people who share the stuff that they are ashamed of or embarrassed by, generally find that they not only set themselves free as they share, they set other people free too. We all tend to think we're not good enough and that we are the only ones. When you find out that pretty much everyone else feels just the same, it is very freeing!

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      Thank you for this beautiful comment – I am SO glad you shared it with us. You don't have to be the mother of adopted children to experience shame – that's certain!

  5. Tricia Sayre (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    This is such a powerful post!! Thank you…it really resonated with me. I loved what you said "we assume guilt for our children's behavior that doesn't belong to us." I fall into that trap so often and feel the weight of failure. I'd love to join you for a book group on the book you mentioned!

  6. Tricia Sayre (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    Powerful post!! Thank you!

  7. Chantelle (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    Okay, just watched both of those videos you posted by Brene Brown. Wow. I'm gonna need to marinate in that for awhile. Amazing! THANK YOU!

  8. One Thankful Mom - Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    I’m so glad it is meaningful to you, Mandy Halverson.

  9. One Thankful Mom - Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    You are very welcome, Tricia Sayre.

  10. gwenmj (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    Oh my goodness, shame! I struggle with that everyday and parenting our special needs adopted child (that has brain damage from abuse) adds a new dimension of shame.. Thank you for reminding me that it is the enemy and that I am enough.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      You are enough, Gwen; with Jesus, you are enough because He is enough.

    • linedancergal (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      I have a special needs child too (autistic) and I know that feeling! You assume everyone thinks you are a bad parent when your child doesn't act like everyone else's. Somewhere along the way (My son is now 12) I have grown a thicker skin and the looks and comments don't penetrate so deep.
      The world needs people like you who will love a child even knowing that they are not 'perfect'. I have great respect for anyone who would adopt a special needs child. We were given no choice. I can't imagine choosing to live with this. What a difference people like you make! Only those of us who live with a special needs child truly understand what this will have cost you (and how much you gain too!).

  11. Chantelle (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    Just ordered the book! :)

  12. Jennifer P (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    This post is why you are on my list of "must-reads", Lisa. The Brown quote was very powerful to me in light of raising kids who look different than I do. We often celebrate the African American skin that doesn't burn easily or we admire the beautiful hair that falls in ringlets almost in a jealous way without meaning too, if that makes sense. Lots to think about here. Thanks.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      That part of the quote on body image really hit me. I want to be a better example to my girls. thanks for reading, Jennifer.

  13. Paula Miles Spears (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    I am adding that book to my reading last right now. Couldn't be more timely for me.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      It is sitting on my desk, I just need time to dive in.

  14. Jennifer Anderson (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    ill join you in the book. really neeed to work on that area myself

  15. Andrea (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    Thank you Lisa, love that you always share to my heart… ya know cause I am the one you are writing to ;) ha ha ha
    Thank you for being open and real. Will be buying this book for sure!

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

      I should start each post with, "Dear Andrea…" :-) One of these days we're going to sit down at a table with coffee and have a long talk – maybe at Paula's looking out at her river.

      • Andrea (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

        Sounds perfect! :)

  16. Sue Bidstrup (Reply) on Thursday 16, 2013

    I love this – "Overcoming shame is inextricably tied to our belief about who Jesus is and what the gospel means." Yes! We are loved and redeemed and washed clean. We are Free! But it's so difficult to live that way sometimes! I love Brene Brown too – her book Daring Greatly was filled with "aha moments"!