What Do You Do When You Fail as a Parent?

failure 2a

Yesterday I sent my younger daughter to school in tears, and I came home a shed a few of my own.

We had a really busy weekend — three hockey games (one at 6:45 a.m.), church and softball practice. By the end of the weekend everyone was tired and crabby. And Monday morning, my daughter realized she had forgotten to do some of her homework.

Let’s just cut to the chase and say the morning was awful. My daughter was in tears the whole time. I was frustrated that she had forgotten the homework. I didn’t have drinks to put in the kids’ lunches because I had forgotten them at the store. And my husband was tired and grumpy, too. Did I mention my older daughter needed to be at school half an hour early? Disaster doesn’t even begin to describe our morning.

When I got home from dropping the girls off at school, I sat in the chair and cried. It was the worst way to start the week. I felt like I had failed as a mom. My kid was dropping the ball left and right, and I felt like I had set her up to fail because of the way our schedules had worked out over the weekend. I didn’t enforce some of my own rules, and that coupled with her choices made for a disaster of a Monday morning for all of us.

But in those moments of frustration and tears, I realized something. We all fail at this parenting thing sometimes. There’s no instruction manual. There’s no shortcuts. There’s no one thing that works for every kid. We’re destined to fail at some point. And what do we do then?

Well, I recommend a good cry, but then it’s time to throw ourselves into the arms of grace. It’s time to look up and realize that despite all of our failures, God is creating something beautiful in our kids. Though we may say the wrong thing, make the wrong choice or simply have a bad day, God is preparing our kids to do amazing things for Him. And He isn’t going to let our failures get in the way.

God uses the hurts, the frustrations and the failures to make us better parents and our kids better kids. If we choose not to wallow in our failures, if we choose to get back into the parenting fray day after day after day, then God can use us to grow our kids. He can use us to be examples of how great His grace and mercy are. He can use us to be His hands and feet for our kids.

And he does that in the middle of our worst days. He does that in the depths of our failures. He does that even when we aren’t looking for Him. He does that because He is grace and joy and love and mercy. He does that because He loves us and He loves our kids.

So, if you’ve failed at this parenting thing today, take heart in knowing that God is big enough to clean up your failures, and He loves you enough to forgive them.

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