Mother or Martyr?

October 11, 2013

I am so lucky to call Jill Savage my friend, my inspiration and my guest blogger. Author, mother, successful business woman–she does it all! And she is so good at reeling me into the realities of motherhood. Whether I am in mom or martyr mode, it’s good to have a reminder that there are no perfect moms. Read on, so you too may reap the wisdom of her words.


A guest post from Jill Savage:

It’s not often that I watch a talk show in the afternoon.  However, I caught just 10 minutes of one show the other day. The host was talking to a woman who was exhausted and felt taken advantage of by her family. After listening to her description of how she interacts with her family, the host replied, “So tell me, are you a mother or a martyr?”

I thought about that statement for a while. What a great question to ask ourselves when evaluating our role within the family. When we step over the line from mother to martyr, we’re really not doing anyone any good. Here’s the difference:

  • A martyr fixes each child, or one particular child, special food for dinner based upon their likes and dislikes. A mother fixes a meal for her family and teaches her children to eat what they are given even if it’s in smaller portions than what other family members eat.
  • A martyr endures a child’s demands and tantrums due to a lack of rest late into the evening because the child “doesn’t want to go to sleep anyway.” A mother selects a reasonable bedtime for a child and enforces it each night knowing that it is in the best interest of the child to get adequate rest.
  • A martyr believes it is her job to entertain her children. A mother provides an environment for her children to imagine.
  • A martyr stays up late and finishes a child’s school report to “help the child get the best grade possible.” A mother allows the child to determine their own grade with their own work, knowing that in the long run she is teaching the child responsibility.
  • A martyr puts her children before her marriage. A mother has a relationship with her husband.
  • A martyr fills out the child’s scholarship forms and has the child sign them. A mother sets a deadline for pursuing financial aid and provides encouragement along the way, but refuses to do something that encourages irresponsibility in the child.
  • A martyr blames everybody but the child and doesn’t make her kids take responsibility for their own mistakes. A mother will be an advocate when needed, but understands that sometimes a child needs to experience consequences for poor choices.
  • A martyr shields her children from making mistakes by either doing things for them or making excuses for them. A mother allows her children to fail, but helps them get back up and try again encouraging them all the way.

Let’s face it: there are no perfect moms. We’re all on a steep learning curve and we mess up on occasion. Evaluating whether we’re a mother or a martyr, however, offers great accountability for us to be using our influence wisely.

Jill Savage ( is a wife, mother, author, and speaker. The CEO of Hearts at Home (, an organization for moms, Jill is the author of nine books including her most recent, No More Perfect Moms. You can join Jill at the next Hearts at Home conference for moms. You can find event information at


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  • Caroline

    I love this post (and Jill Savage)! Thanks for posting this. I was actually debating my own martyrdom this past week whilst wondering why in the world I am still folding laundry for my five year old…I never let my older girls get away with this. I needed this!

    • I think you are a great mom–my girls were not yet folding laundry at 5!