If you have ever made a mistake as a parent then you need to carry on reading this article. However, let me not get too far ahead of myself, because I first have a BIG confession to make…
I have made many mistakes as a parent and sometimes I feel as if I have ‘totally’ failed as a father! In fact, the reason I am writing this article is because I have just FAILED again, and I am busy vacillating between huge guilt and overwhelming frustration, mainly with myself. I should have just known better!
Without going into too much detail about my latest failure, I want to share how we can all deal with our mistakes and move forward from these places of brokenness. In this particular incident, I made a decision with my heart, instead of my head and although I meant well, believing that I had my kids best interests at heart, I made the wrong decision. Oh, how I wish I had gone to ‘Parenting school’ or some other place where they taught you how not to make these mistakes. You know what I mean? That place where we can be trained to become perfect parents?
Just as I was feeling very down about myself, I remembered that Jesus’ mom and dad had also blown it a few times. Turning to Luke 2, I noted that they had actually left him behind after the Passover festival and then only realised he was missing many hours later. Immediately, I felt a surge of relief and thought to myself, “Well, even though his parents made a few mistakes, Jesus didn’t turn out too bad in the end!”
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travellers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
Clearly, this incident took place in another context and generation, but it did make me feel a little better about myself, too be honest. There are just so many things that we try and model as parents, but in the end we know that we will make many mistakes. The biggest thing I daily pray for is that my kids will understand that we are trying our best and that we are desperately seeking to point them to Christ. Even though parenting is complex, we desire our kids to come into a relationship with Jesus and we pray that our mistakes won’t hinder them from encountering Jesus.
So, friends, this is what I am learning as a parent – 15 years on in my journey.
I am learning to say ‘sorry’ over and over again.
I am learning to cut myself some slack and to trust that God has my kids in the palm of his hand.
I am learning that my kids are lot more resilient than what I give them credit for.
I am learning that second chances apply to me, just as much as it does to them.
I am learning that I will never be perfect, no matter how often I try.
I am learning that LOVE covers over a multitude of my mistakes.
And so my only advice to parents out there is this: Don’t give up trying to be a great parent, but remember that when you fail, God can help your family through the difficult moments and that “All things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).” I really believe that!
In the words of Maya Rudolph, “You’re always going to make mistakes, constantly, and beat yourself up about it, and the one thing you have to remember is that the thing you can do better than anyone else is love your children, because they’re your children. So you just have to remember to give yourself a little bit of a break sometimes.”
Welcome to the club of “Parents who make mistakes!” Now that you know that you are part of the biggest club in the world, let’s put our failures behind us and let’s get parenting again! May we all be blessed with Courage, Resilience, Patience, Love and Grace. Go with the strength of God.