A Screwtape Letter For the Unappreciated Mom

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on  her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,



You may also enjoy…  A MOTHER’S GREATEST FEAR



192 thoughts on “A Screwtape Letter For the Unappreciated Mom

  1. Oh I love this! Especially since I have just finished a read aloud of the book to my children! I was directed to your lovely and well written post by Aunt Leila’s blog, http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/

  2. Fay Augenstein says:

    Thank you for writing this. It was very well done–so similar to the original. Unfortunately, these tactics sound all too familiar to me and my crazy jumbled up mom brain on a daily basis. It was a good reminder to take my thoughts captive and not be fooled by where bad thoughts like the ones described above really come from!

  3. Michelle says:

    Oh my, I can sure relate to this. Thanks so much — I needed it!

  4. Excellent! I love it.

    Have you recently read the book? You have reminded me that it has been far too long since I last read it. Thank you.

    God bless you in your mothering efforts.


    PS I came by from http://likemotherlikedaughter.org

  5. Kim says:

    Wow! I just saw this today. A friend shared it on fb. There are some really powerful reminders to us as wives and moms. These traps are all too easy to fall into as we go about our daily lives. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Mindy says:

    My book group just started The Screwtape Letters this week and I was so excited when I came across your essay! Very well done!

  7. Theresa Stec says:

    This is remarkable. I’m sitting in a hospital bed, recovering from the birth of my 11th child and wishing I had read this as a young mother. I have collected many of these lessons the hard way and have many miles to go, but how I wish I had early enlightenment. My mother said to me with my first son, “Every thing you do for him is a corporeal or spiritual act of mercy.” Along the same vein, your article elevates motherhood to the historically significant place it needs to be seen from-My children are old enough for me to understand my work bears fruit- good and bad- and I have learned by now who the common enemy to the family is. The success or failure of our marriage will affect generations- the enemy attacks with diligence and plots our failure insidiously. I try to place this foremost in my mind and when little inklings creep in, I remember to get mad- but not at my husband now. I have learned to respond to assaults by loving harder, and through this sacrificial love and the grace of Christ, we build a fortress. Thank you for this beautiful insight.

  8. WOW! This is just what I needed to hear today. God works in wonderful ways! I’m so happy he guided me to your blog post. I haven’t thought about the Screwtape Letters in years! Your writing brought me right back to the book! Beautifully done!

  9. Thank you so much. Actually my husband read this out loud to me …I had left it open on the computer and he spotted it… we both chuckled alot. Very creative reminder of what it is important.

  10. Crafty P says:

    such wise words and so well written. thank you so much

  11. Sherry says:

    Great writing… love it & HIM!

  12. Danielle says:

    Wow. Thank you. I have a caring husband and a blessed two and a half year old daughter but there are lots of opportunities for discouragement when I’m too tired to remember God’s peace is there for the asking. This was brilliant and beautifully written and I look forward to sharing it with all my mommy friends (most of whom are Christian stay-at-home moms).

  13. Cathy says:

    You have looked into my life and shone a light into those dark and dusty corners. So perceptive. I will come back to this and share it with my husband. Thank you.

  14. yes life long friends, enduring love, opportunities to grow oneself and a chance to leave a family legacy of pride, love and caring.

  15. Katrina says:

    This is SO amazing. Thank you.

  16. ari says:

    This is brilliant. I hope you keep going with this, and that it gets published in a book, and keeps going. CSLewis’ s books are in print 70 years later.

    I could have used this for my first three kids. Now, with the fourth, I’m in a position of mindful blessedness, so I know how completely spot-on you are.

    Some other moms, years from now, need what you just wrote.

  17. Makellw says:

    So well written and appreciated! I’m also going to be sharing this in our book club tonight- it is completely understood by any mother and full of truth. Thank you!

  18. Lisa says:

    Such a great perspective, and so true! I am ashamed to say I have fallen to all of these traps, almost word for word, thought for thought! Thank you for reminding me who my true enemy is and how to guard against his tactics!

    Also, my husband would love to hear a version for dads. Do you have one somewhere for that that I can send him?

    Thank you!

  19. Decker says:

    Thank you Holy Spirit for leading me to this post, this day, at this hour. Thanks to my friend for sending the link. And to you, Kelsey, for posting it. God bless you!

  20. I loved this. I have five children (all grown up now–oldest 30, youngest 18–2 still living at home) and this is just as appropriate now as when they were younger. I loved it!

  21. Amanda says:

    Wow, this hit home. I love (and needed) the reminder at the end that fixing our sight on God will overcome all the weight we carry.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      It’s wonderful to know that we don’t have to rely on our own strength, isn’t it? Thanks, Amanda!

  22. Jasmine says:

    Just what I needed today, thanks!

  23. Sheila Sullivan says:

    Wow, could have used this when I was raising mine

  24. Jocelyn Pollard says:

    Thanks. This letter is tremendously relevant to my present situation. You’ve given me a lot to consider.

  25. Marissa D says:

    I love this so much! I’ve read it maybe ten times over the weekend, and have to share it on Salt & Light, a link up to share encouraging posts, I hope you don’t mind. If you want, stop by and be encouraged, and join in the community!

    Again, I love this one!


    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Marissa. And I always love a good share! Thanks for the invitation too.

  26. Julia says:

    Wow! I’m not even married and it still hit me right where I needed it! Awesome! <3

  27. Huh. Which paragraph spoke to my heart the most? ALL of them! Thank you. This was shared with me by my bestest friend, (at whose wedding my husband and I met…19 years ago), and that makes it all the more special.

  28. A friend passed me your article on the Unappreciated Mom. It is a great read for believers to help them see how we should not give into self-pity, have a martyr-dom complex or give into negativity. Moms have an awesome role in shaping family and society. I am wondering if you would give me permission to post this article and a link to your website at my website for moms called 10kids.com

  29. Jesyca H. says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been so worn lately between kids and work and a ton of personal things. This really called me out and made me see things for what they really are – a spiritual battle. It made me feel like you took everything in my head and wrote it down. Seeing all of these other mommies post similar things, and that we all seem to be on the same page, just reaffirms that this is so truly a spiritual battle. I shared it with my husband too and it was a great jumping off point for a long overdue and loving conversation. I don’t know about you, but the world seems to be getting exponentially more difficult…and more derailing. Thank you for helping me refocus and be reminded of how truly important our roles are in shaping future generations….and more importantly, future followers of Christ!

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      So very well-said, Jesyca. If it seemed like I was peering into your head, it was only because it’s been raging around in my own for a while. 😉 You’re not alone.

  30. Laura says:

    Have you been eavesdropping on me? Such perfect insight, it almost hurts. Thank you.

  31. Cara says:

    Wow, that was convicting. I needed it. Thank you!

  32. Amy Chaplin says:

    This seems to excuse mens useless behaviour, when he treads mud in the house after you’ve cleaned it, plays PC games when he gets home and your still slaving after the kids, and never seems to care or help when you need it most IS him not caring, it’s disrespectful to you, it’s lousy behaviour, he is the enemy in these cases, it’s not imagined as the letter suggests and I feel as though this letter is his ticket or excuse to keep on behaving in this way. Women deserve more than that, we are over worked, undervalued, and treated like slaves in our homes by the men we thought would look after us…the kids I can excuse, the men should know better, but let’s face if, they don’t, it’s just insensitive ignorance on their part and I guess it’s put up or shut up, it will never change. The worst part it is that they just don’t realise the level and amount of work and organisation we do!

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Hello, Amy. This was not intended to excuse men’s useless behavior at all. Surely, a loving and understanding husband always makes things easier and usually pitches in to help around the home (though I don’t believe if he is the sole breadwinner, he is required to). However, it’s always important to look inside ourselves first and see if there is any anguish that is self-inflicted first (Does he REALLY not love you because he’s not helping with dishes, or is he simply exhausted from his long workday or expresses his love through other means?). After you have examined yourself, you can choose what you’re willing to look over and live with, or what needs to be confronted, in grace, with your very-human husband. In my opinion, both husbands and wives are undervalued and overworked these days. When was the last time you spent your husband’s paycheck and REALLY valued how hard he worked for it, instead of just ‘expecting it’ or thinking it was owed to you? Of course, all this assumes your husband is doing his fair share OUTSIDE of the home, if not in it. If he’s really just a lazy bum who lays around playing video games all day and not providing for his family or helping in any other way, then perhaps a counseling session with your pastor might be in order.

      • Jo says:

        And remember… it’s mainly the wives who are reading this, not the husbands, so no one who would use it as an excuse is thoughtful enough to have read it! My husband just today trod mud into the house AS I WAS SWEEPING the hallway. Is he a clot? Yes. Did I take it personally? Yes. Did he mean it personally? No. So did the devil get into my heart and spoil things? Yes. Should he have thought first? Absolutely. But if I weren’t a tired mum what would my reaction have been? Something a bit more lighthearted like ‘hey, leave your mud outside!’ rather than ‘he hates me and did that on purpose!’ That’s the difference this letter is talking about. Get me to take my husband’s non-thinking and turn it into a personal insult that makes me doubt my marriage. Nice one wormwood. You did it. Now I can undo it (since reading the article… thanks!)

  33. karli says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this! Today was exactly the day I felt so unappretiated by my boys and husband. I honestly wanted to move myself in to the guest room for the weekend. Having read the screwtape letters, this made all the sense in the world to me!

  34. Diane says:


  35. Are you a fly on the wall of my house?!

    What a spot on analogy of what the enemy tries to do to discourage us in our calling as Mamas…right on, right on.

    Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough (www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com)

  36. Tienne says:

    Perfect! Thank you so much for this. :)

  37. Wendy says:

    Oh the Evil one has taught you well!! 😉 Thanks for the reminder!

  38. Ouch. So revealing. I feel like this perspective is ammunition!!!!! We can be warriors, don’t you believe????

  39. lanciaesmith says:

    Brilliant! And oh so true. Thank you for writing and sharing it. Have you read Richard Platt’s “As One Devil To Another”? I think you will like it as it is also a modern day take on Screwtape. Blessings to you and yours, Kelsey.

  40. Rhea says:

    I must have missed the point of this… My husband has all the qualities mentioned above, I hurt everywhere, my back hurts, I have a pounding headache all day (mainly because I have been unable to get in to see an eye doctor and a replacement contact lens), my hands are raw, chapped, and nearly bleeding from stress and some sort of stress related dermatitis, not to mention a horrible heartache from feeling that he just doesn’t care enough to pitch in and at least pick up after himself.. I read this article until the very last paragraph, last sentence, last word, all the while hoping there would be some answer that made it all make sense… The only hope I saw from this was that I need to turn it up to God… But I’ve been doing that for years.. I not only have not been relieved in any possible way, but the situation is getting worse.. My husband tells me all the time that he would die for me, but once after him saying that, I asked him to sweep the floor.. no biggie, the vacuum was already plugged in, ready to go.. He threw the biggest fit ever.. It reminded me of my two year old’s temper tantrum.. Tonight I began to cry, and wanted to spend time talking to him.. (I have to prepare that conversation every time because if I am forced to discuss what is on my mind, I am almost always referred to as “psycho” or “a total nutjob”… The “conversation” is almost ended with him screaming at me, me crying, and inevitably I feel worse than if I hadn’t even tried to talk to him… I feel 100% alone, (during the day I AM alone, as he leaves for work at 8am and doesn’t return until very late – sometimes as late as midnight)… He has one day off per week, Sunday.. to which he uses that to watch tv and rest… He is angry if I mention my feelings of loneliness and pain… He tries to argue me out of feeling that way, until I give in (verbally) and apologize.. After that I feel more lonely than before… I’m beginning to realize that I will never feel like an actual person again, and I’ve been actively searching doctors who might give me a lobotomy, just so I can do away with these feelings…. My emotions are going to ruin my marriage, and the fact that he tells me this quite often solidify that fact… I don’t want to feel emotions anymore.. I want to be a mom, wife, and more or less, slave.. but I can’t get past the hurt that accompanies this…. I cry in secrecy often, if he hears me, he is angered.. When he is not home, although I am stressed out and ALONE all day EVERY day, I am more at peace because I am allowed to feel the way I do.. It’s not until he returns that I feel the hurt, and his wrath, and his frustrations are taken out on me, as vulnerable as I may sound, he is convinced that I’m faking it, that there is “nothing difficult about my life”, and confidence that I could have it worse,,, I totally feel like throwing in the towel, giving up… He likes to compare his situation to my own if I ever do try to talk about my daily struggles, and that his situation is far more difficult and that I need to grow up and quit acting like it’s such a hard job… The job I have is tending to twin two year olds, a newborn baby, and attempting to keep a 4 story house clean, organized and supplied in clean laundry/dishes… I have no margin for error, no room for mistakes, and the mistakes I inevitably make are seemingly viewed as unforgivable…. I am 100% responsible for grocery shopping and meal prep… The shopping is very difficult because no one in his family or my own are ever able to watch the kids…. A trip to the store that -pre-children would take a matter of 15 minutes… with the children, a trip to purchase one thing becomes an all day project… He brags about how much money he makes, although I am still blind in one eye, I have a lot of pain that I cannot afford financially to treat, and have been resorting to charities to feed myself and my children… I feel beyond under appreciated, I feel like I’m in my own personal hell, and I’m forced to remain silent about it… I have to even ACT like I’m happy, and I have to convince him that I am.. which is SO incredibly difficult – because I am NOT happy, and if I ever dare say that to him, he will call me “crazy” and become angry… which leads to a fight, and him forcing me to convince him BEYOND A DOUBT otherwise… I wish I knew the answer… I feel my physical health is more than suffering.. I feel like I’m not to be in this world much longer, and I feel like I’m pushed and pushed and pushed until my body will give out on me… and then it will probably be my fault…I honestly think he hates me, and that he doesn’t care for me like he says… I don’t feel loved, I feel used…

    • tlhumphries says:

      Rhea, from what you have described, you could quite possibly be in an abusive situation (emotional abuse is still abuse, as is neglect). Are you a member of a church? Speaking to the pastor may begin your healing process. Of course, you may want to speak to someone who doesn’t know your husband, or even a professional counselor. Do you have any friends/neighbors who can watch your children? During the summer, a couple of teen babysitters (trained) can help give you a break. Twin two year olds and a newborn is a lot for anyone to handle with no help or breaks. I am praying for you, for the Holy Spirit to help you recognize others around you that can help you and for you to find just the friend(s) that you need.

    • Jen says:

      I strongly believe you are being abused. Please look up facts about verbal and emotional abuse and see if it applies to your situation. A dear friend of mine is going through something very similar and it is heart breaking. If you want things to change, however, you have to take the first step. The way he treats you is Not Your Fault! Could you talk with your kid’s pediatrician perhaps, or maybe someone at one of the charities you mentioned? Maybe they could help you find a counselor. Please don’t give up, you are so strong to have endured this long! Your babies need you. Things can get better Are there any family members you can reach out to for support? Old friends? Even online support groups can help. You are not alone. God is aware of you and your pain. Hugs and prayers to you, wherever you are.

  41. I’ve always loved your post. It’s one of my all time favorites. I finally was inspired to write a perspective it’s made me ponder. I hope you take a look sometime.

  42. Grace says:

    Rhea, you are speaking of abuse. Period. I also would suspect addition of some type. God does Not want this for you. There are many supports available to you. If however you do not reach out, nothing will change dear. I walked that road. I pray you don’t. I could not admit to Anyone our family was not the “perfect” family. I had a singleton and twins all under 16 months. While her writing of Screwtape letters is a very good example of how we can magnify and play into Satans deceptions as he does target the family to take our eyes off of Christ…it is clear that you need good solid support. Do reach out to a church womans ministry. If you belong to a church that does not offer this or meet the need, look elsewhere. Look at 12 step programs as well. There are on line ones with chat rooms available 24 hours a day, especially if you cannot get out. The above advice is excellent. I do offer a word of caution in speaking to Pastors re your issue. Some are old school, the man is master of the wife. This must be avoided as it is re abusing you. Reach out to the local Mothers of Twins group as well. I too am praying for you. May God in His great mercy send his Holy Spirit to help you this day by raising up the support you need. Amen….
    Being isolated is also part of the abuse. Please, do not allow this. There are also Great support groups at churchs that provide child care, a meal for your family, time of worship for you and you break down into smaller groups, ie female for you for people dealing with difficult situations and a time of fellowship and snacks afterwards….often a Fri evening. Sounds like it could work for you! Look at your local churches online and the ministries offered. God Speed to you, You Will get through this! One step at a time. Love Yourself enough…..to take the steps dear. As Christ loves you.

  43. Oh my gosh, this is just so clear and amazing. Thanks for writing it from this perspective. The tone and voice and topic and guidance of Screwtape is spot on and eerie, just like Lewis’s letters. Thanks for writing and sharing!

  44. Andi says:

    Very, very cool. Absolutely what I needed to read today. Thank you!!

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