Maternal Instinct and Why You Don’t Need a Reason for Your No


Mom Gut.

Maternal instinct.

You have it.

Trust it.

I loved this article by Michelle Martin of the Huffington Post. It speaks volumes about emotional intelligence (EI) and how our culture tends to undermine it. Emotional intelligence/instinct are not necessarily the same, but they’re comparable. Here, I’m primarily referring to maternal instinct; however, the reason I mention EI is that far too often our culture values logic over instinct. In short, you’re considered unintelligent if operating out of emotion in any way.

I write on this topic to clear the air for all you mamas out there with a high degree of EI/maternal instinct.

I’ve had multiple encounters lately with what I would call “mom gut.” The thing about ‘mom gut’- it can’t be proven. For all those data-driven folks out there, instinct does not necessarily compute (and let’s face it, our culture is driven by facts and data even if the facts and data are inaccurate). Emotional intelligence does exist, which leads me to believe many of us have it and it can be a beneficial part of us.

Have you ever had a feeling about someone or something?

When confronted with gut instinct (and completely unaware of the reason), I’ve learned to trust that feeling, a check in my spirit per se. Later, sometimes years later, a reason for the check is revealed. I guess I’m at a point in life where I care less about the reason. I trust my gut regardless of outside opinion. As a recovering People-Pleaser, this is a huge step in the right direction. I wish they had recovery meetings for these kinds of things because I often felt like I needed support.

I’m here to tell you as mothers you don’t need a reason for your no, but when you give it, inevitably persuasion or questioning will follow. As mothers, who are stewarding these precious children entrusted to our care, we don’t need an explanation. Far too often children have been put in precarious positions because moms were afraid to say no at the risk of being too overprotective or deemed foolish.

We lack a logical reason to now allow the play date, the sleepover, etc. but there has to be a reason, right?


Remember the infamous statement? “Because I said so”?

Logical? Not really.

Overprotective? Maybe.

But I plan to always err on overprotection rather than under. Preserving my child’s innocence is just too important. It’s also significant to mention no one knows your children like you do. No one.

There are many distractions eager and willing to steal our child’s innocence. The Novus Project states:

 “…90% of young men age 18 have been exposed to pornography-much of which is hardcore (meaning it often involves violence and overtly explicit imagery). Of the 90%, the average age these young men were sexualized by pornography was between 8-11 years old. Similarly, 60% of young women by the age of 18 have been exposed to porn as well.”

I realize a ‘play date’ won’t likely steal away my child’s innocence and doesn’t make him at risk for a lifelong porn addiction, but it could open doors that I don’t want my child to walk through.

As a mom of an almost 8-year-old boy, my stomach churns and I become downright angry regarding these kinds of statistics. My child’s innocence can be taken at the ripe young age of 8. If not by an accidental click, perhaps by an older neighborhood kid or a parent who deems pornography acceptable. I’m talking about kids who might still believe in Santa, and I have this responsibility to explain the perversions of sexuality, of our ‘me first’ culture, and the degradation of men and women collectively- instead of breaking the news that Santa isn’t real. It’s tragic.

But here is the thing that gets me that I desperately want to speak into your doubting mama mind:

It starts with the sleepover.
It starts with the play date.
It starts with a little too much screen time. Sometimes it can start with a cousin in the other room on Christmas morning or Uncle George stopping by whom you thought just enjoyed being around children. Please don’t think I am casting judgement- I’m not. It’s hard to know where to draw this invisible line.

The book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is a great resource for drawing ‘lines’ in any situation when the ‘no’ isn’t being respected. You can pick the book up at Walmart for $5.95. It’s completely worth the small investment.

The point is, there’s little risk in responding to your instincts. We must trust our gut till our children have the maturity and wisdom to trust their own.


  1. “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker is also really good. I’d rather shelter my child a little bit longer and let her enjoy being a child than to ignore my gut and face regrets.

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