Failure as a Parent Is Inevitable

Are you ready for a full dose of reality?

Failure as a parent is inevitable. Stop living in a dream world, you’re probably not as great of a parent as you think you are. I don’t mean to come across as negative, but time has a way of revealing how things really are… or will be.

Recently I’ve become aware of several parenting “misses.” I’ve encountered multiple people who have experienced total parenting failures, either as parents or as kids of parents. You’re probably thinking, “Why is this such a surprise? Just take a walk around your block and you’ll find more parenting failures than you can count.”

No, what has raised my awareness of this issue is that in every case, the parenting disasters (or near disasters) have happened in incredibly loving, Christ-centered homes. From my limited viewpoint, I didn’t see any blatant sin or negative behaviors that would lead to these incidents, but they happened anyway.

I think that these situations are very challenging for us Christians. When stuff happens, we start to look for the cause. We try to justify what behaviors happened that caused this. We try to sniff out the dysfunction. As a result, we end up hurting rather than healing and we make the situation worse, even in our sincere efforts to “help.”

In my life I’ve seen AMAZING spiritual leaders who LOVE Jesus better than anyone I’ve ever seen and I’ve watched a disaster unfold within their family either in their marriage or with one of their kids. Why is it that our default mode of operation is to try to figure out what happened or what went wrong? It’s almost as if we lose a little respect for this person or we scratch our heads wondering how they could have missed this “fault” or “cancer” within their family.

JUST STOP IT!

Here’s the reality. There’s no guarantee in life that everything is going to go they way you hope it does. Some pretty INCREDIBLE people experience the pain of divorce. Some AMAZING parents have kids walk away from their faith. Many have kids who struggle with addictive behaviors, morality compromises or self-harm. In addition to the pain experienced when disaster unfolds, imagine the shame they feel as the community discovers that everything isn’t what it seemed.

Maybe you haven’t experienced these things in your family. Count your blessings, but don’t attribute it to the God + Marriage + Family formula you figured out. Love and pursue God authentically and show your spouse and kids what this looks like. Be real with yourself and others. Be honest with your spouse, your kids and others where you tend to miss it as a parent. Do everything that you can to be intentional as a parent and trust God fully with your kids, when they win and when they stumble. The failures may just be part of the larger story that God is going to tell through you, through your marriage and through your kids.

When you see another family experience failure, realize that they too are in process and perhaps they are right in the middle of the greater story of grace and redemption that God is writing in them. Resist the urge to figure stuff out and just jump into their mess as the story unfolds.  

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kenny@childrensministryonline.com'
Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker.