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Why Your Family Needs a Mother – Not a Martyr

A Mom who practices total self-denial, putting her family's needs before her own is a Martyr Mom. This isn't a healthy practice and her family will unknowingly pay the ultimate price for her well-intentioned actions. Learn how to avoid this toxic behavior and find yourself again!Are you a Martyr Mom? You know, a mom who sacrifices everything for her family? Who gives all her energy, strength, and focus toward meeting the needs of her children. Who drags herself out of bed before anyone else and is the last one to fall into the bed at night. The one who rarely stops during the day to meet her own needs.

The one who doesn’t step on loose Lego pieces the next morning because she stayed up tirelessly till 2:00 in the morning picking them all up.

That may sound like a noble and selfless picture of motherhood, but let me tell you vehemently that it isn’t. That’s because when God created the woman – He made her first a woman… then a wife… then a mother.

God never intended for us to forget about our amazing identities as women so we can then become worn-out, over-stressed, and cranky mothers.


He fully intended for us to hold on to our pre-baby selves while embracing the amazing season of motherhood as it unfolds. And motherhood doesn’t always unfold pretty… like those awful fitted sheets nobody knows how to fold!

Have You Lost Yourself in Motherhood?

When we think it’s OK to deny ourselves completely so we can endlessly give to our families – we’ll ultimately, over time – lose ourselves. Our identity and needs get placed on a shelf – becoming covered in dust and forgotten over time.

When we allow ourselves to become Martyr Moms:

We stop nurturing our bodies and neglect the signs of our health taking a nosedive.

We stop nurturing our spirit and slowly pull away from our quiet time with Christ – becoming spiritually weak.

We neglect our relationships and become isolated in our loneliness.

We end up taking on too much in an effort to feel valuable in the eyes of others, only to let our peace get entangled by the roots of stress.

We tell ourselves that our dreams and passions must wait for a better time, all-the-while allowing feelings of resentment to run free in our hearts.

I’m certainly not saying that motherhood doesn’t and shouldn’t require sacrifice and change on our part. I AM saying, however, that total self-denial is unhealthy and isn’t God’s plan for us.

Related Post: 27 Easy Ways to Pursue Your Passion While Raising Your Family

It’s Time to Find Yourself Again!

He created us to be that loving, strong, joy-filled, healthy, patient, wise, and FUN mom. Not the tired, cranky, stressed out, over-burdened, and burnt-out martyr mom.

The truth is, it’s the love I have for my family that causes me to give them all I have and all I am. And that’s OK as long as I don’t leave myself out of that love equation.

As moms, we MUST love ourselves the way that God loves us.

This means giving ourselves unconditional love AND grace… no matter how many times we fall short or miss the mark.

We need balance between loving them and loving ourselves. Meeting their needs and meeting our own.

After all, my family’s deepest desire is for me to be happy and fulfilled. To be strong and healthy in my mind and body. To be well taken care of and treasured.

Related Post: Why All Moms Need a Regular Self Care Routine – Blog Series

Does that sound like the definition of martyr to you? No, it sounds like the virtuous woman in the book of Proverbs whose price is far above rubies.

Almost twenty years of marriage and almost 12 years of motherhood has taught me that I’m only able to serve my family at my very best when I serve myself first. Not in a self-seeking “everyone else get behind me” kind of way. But where I learn to love myself the way God loves me and the way I love them.

Where I put myself on the schedule to ensure I’m eating when and what is best for my body. Where I slow down to pay attention to my health and stress levels and make the necessary adjustments before a health crisis shows up.

Where I do things that I enjoy, just for me.

But most importantly, I allow God a real place in my life by connecting with Him on a daily basis so He can lead me into becoming the very best version of myself. Ultimately, our Heavenly Father desires for us to experience the fullness of His blessing every day!

He never intended for His daughters to be rundown versions of ourselves.

Allow Him to show you who you really are, and surrender to His will for you to be all you were created to be. He’ll walk you through every step if you allow Him to.

Have you been living as a Martyr Mom? How have you forgotten yourself? Share in the comments below so we can all decide to change together!

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26 Comments on "Why Your Family Needs a Mother – Not a Martyr"

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Easter Babe

These are some great tips. Being a Martyr Mom sounds too exhausting but sometimes you just can’t help it.

Kim Seghers

I’m guilty of taking on to much too! But, as I get older I am learning to take time for me!


It is difficult to avoid the Mommy Martyr syndrome. Your post is very insightful. Thanks!

Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat.

I’ve definitely been guilty of taking on too much and becoming a martyr. It’s something I’ve been working on, and I think I can say I’m making improvement. Thanks for the reminder!

Yes, I have been living as a “martyr mom”. I have forgotten myself completely and then feel guilty when I feel or even spew resentment towards my kids, I entered motherhood differently from most. My husband and I adopted our three kids from foster care. We were first time parents to a 5, 3, & 2 year old all at once. I wanted kids so badly that once they were here I totally jumped in head first into doing all the mommy things and trying to enjoy all the firsts. Along the way it just became a bad habit that… Read more »

Wow Jennifer! You are such an inspiration. I’m so happy to hear that things are better. Most of us ease into motherhood and all that stuff, but you jumped in the deep end. Keep doing the important work of loving those children. You’re are doing a wonderful job!


Yes! What an important message. Motherhood has its seasons, and sometimes it can be an overwhelming one. It’s good to take a step back and make sure we are caring for ourselves. There’s no room for burnout as a mom. Thanks for sharing!

Absolutely Kim! No room for burnout. It’s too big a price to pay. 🙂

Hmmm. Thinking about this. (I looooove posts that make me think!) I think we are and aren’t to be martyrs. First thought: Clearly, Scripture calls us to die to self and offer ourselves up as living sacrifices. There’s no whitewashing that. Christ doesn’t call us to self-fulfillment. He calls us to spend ourselves as servants who seek to make much of Him. Second thought: The mom who picks up her kids’ legos at 2am does it for herself, not her kids. It’s a I-will-maintain-control issue. What she should be doing is teaching her kids to be responsible people and pick… Read more »
Thank you Alexandra for your very honest comment! Love that! Yes, Christ teaches us to die to self and our own desires in order to serve others. He also is extremely interested in our overall enjoyment in life. (John 10:10 Amp). He created us all (mothers included) with passion and purchase to do many wonderful things… even during the season of motherhood. And for those moms who feel a tug from the Lord to do things that bring us fulfillment outside of child rearing, they should walk in the freedom to do so. In my experience and opinion, I feel… Read more »
Charu Sareen

That’s such an amazing and inspiring post. Indeed we, moms, need to love ourselves and make ourselves a priority.

Yes, self-love is a beautiful thing!


this is such a great post! It is so easy to get mommy burnout and it is hard to take care of yourself. I am a first-time mom and I find myself sometimes being a Martyr… I sometimes don’t take time for myself and go to bed at the end of the day and think to myself what the heck did I even do today. It is one of my resolutions this year to remember to take time for me too.

Yes, oh the Mommy Burnout! Sometimes it’s just inevitable depending on the season. But being aware helps so much! Thanks for the comment.


I’m in danger of this right now. My husband and I work from home and are with our son almost 24/7. We give everything for him. We’re leaving today for a child-free vacation and I’m really stressing about it! I’m so worried about leaving him with his aunt, but the truth is that we really need this time to focus on ourselves and rejuvinate to be even better parents.

Congrats on your kid-free vacation! And I totally gave why you are nervous about leaving your son. My husband and I both work from home and have always had our babies at home, until recently. And under those circumstances, it’s extremely hard to take care of yourself. But you’re doing so much better than I did by getting away, regardless of how you feel. You’ll thank yourself later!


Wow this post is very powerful. I’m not a mom yet, but I can relate because of my sister. I will make sure to share this with her!

Thanks so much and thanks for sharing with your sister Justine! 🙂

Leigh Suznovich

Oh I so believe this. You’re no good to your children if you don’t take care of yourself. Great post!

MJ Cal

For me personally, I know that for me to be the best mom possible that I have to take care of myself first. I make time to go gym 3 times a week and on the weekends I try to get an hour to myself to do things for me. I also try to encourage my kids to realize that everyone needs time for themselves and that also helps.

I love that you say you teach your kids to make time for themselves! This is a great teaching tool for raising well-rounded children. Thanks for sharing that point!

Sarah Althouse

Keeping this in mind as I have my first baby in April! I definitely do not want to lose myself because I feel like I can be a better mom if I am balanced and happy.

Congrats on your new baby coming! Staying some-what balanced 😉 is a day by day thing.