Grace for the Failing Parent


Any talks of parenting will inevitably lead to a couple of feelings. It will leave us with a greater sense of responsibility and significance in the things we should be doing as parents. Or we will feel an overwhelming sense of guilt by what we fail to do. Countless blogs, books, preachers, and researchers will tell us what steps we should be taking to be a better parent, and many of these are actually valuable steps that might help our parenting.

But what do we do when we understand the significance of our role as a parent, yet are overwhelmed by our inability to do for our children what they need the most?

God has called us to be a teacher, a friend, a counselor, and a coach to our children. And no one will have more spiritual influence in the lives of our children, than us, their parents. No one will shape my own children’s identity more than I will. For many of us as parents, we are reminded that we aren’t quite doing all the things we should be doing as parents. The prayers aren’t quite as often as they should be. The discipline was not quite as consistent as it should be. Or our anger made us say something to our children that wasn’t appropriate.

What do you do when you feel like you’ve failed in one of the most important roles that God has given you?

Because we all fail. As parents, we like to keep our parenting failures our little secret, but we all fail. We say the wrong thing, we do the wrong thing, we break our own rules. What do you do when you’ve dropped the ball in the greatest responsibility that you’ve been given?  What do you do when you’ve been called to imitate Christ so your kids can imitate you and you’ve been lousy at it?

Where do we start?

Repent.

To God and to your family. Confess your failures and ask for the grace that God promises to give.

It has to start there.

Because just as much as you want your kids to know that they are loved because of who they are and not the things they do, the same is true of you. You are loved by your Creator not because of your ability to parent. You are loved by your Savior not because of how well you taught your kids the Scriptures. Your love is not because of how much your kids like you or because of your ability to listen and counsel your children in their problems.  The love God has for you is not even dependent on whether or not your kids love Jesus.

You are loved by your Creator because you are God’s child.

And you are God’s child because you have been bought by the blood of Jesus. And it’s that love - it’s that unconditional love that God has for us, as his children, that we want to share with our children.  It’s that love which is both the content and the motivation for everything that we do as parents.  It’s that love that we want our kids to cling to and to cherish and to hold onto.  As parenting failures who are just trying to figure out how to not screw up their kids too much, it is that grace that we hold onto. Grace makes us accepted because of Jesus’ work for us and not the work we manage to do as we raise our kids. And that grace that accepts us unconditionally through the blood of Jesus is also the grace that we share with our own children. It’s this grace that sets us free - parents, children, and families.

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