Fail as parents

Why I Almost Quit Writing About Parenting

For months, I’ve wrestled with continuing to write this blog.

I mean, there are a million how-to blogs out there. You click whatever link that floats your boat, follow step by step instructions, and voila, you get a product that somewhat resembles what the blogger’s promises.

How to make chicken soup via Instant Pot? How to make a DIY laundry soap? How to talk to like Donald Duck? (Don’t ask me why I even googled that.)

But parenting? Gee whiz.

I wonder if I should change topics — to something more concrete like 100 Ways to Mow your Lawn. I mean, I know zero things about lawn care. But I can imagine that writing something like that is more concrete and less intimidating.

Because when it comes to parenting, all I can think about are the ways I’ve failed.

And I tell myself, I’m going to wait until I overcome these failures to write more. I should wait till I have more kids’ “success” stories under my belt (whatever that means).

And then it dawned on me.

Of course, we’re going to fail!!!!

Every single one of us parents is going to fail!

The odds are stacked completely against us:  We are imperfect (sinful) human beings. We are raising imperfect (sinful) human beings. Either we’re going to mess it up. Or they’re going to mess up.  (Or both happen simultaneously!)

One way or another. We can’t beat the odds. And here’s the clincher with parenting: Whether we mess it up, or they mess it up… well, it’s going to feel like we failed.

After all, how many parents can shrug their shoulders and say without a shred of guilt, “Well, I did everything right? It’s 100% their fault for…”

Sure, we may try really, really, really hard at different things. But I am not going to sugar coat this. (Spoiler alert.) There will always be an aspect that we’re going to fail in.

  • We might be working hard to provide for the family, but we fail at spending more time with the kids
  • Or, we might be spending a ton of time with our kids, but we wrestle with anger issues.
  • We may be a pillar of faith our church or community, and yet, our kids feel neglected
  • We may be good at making our home a welcoming haven, and yet, we can’t get our kids to respect or listen
  • Conversely, we may be good at making your kids listen and obey, but deep down inside, they feel unloved and silently rebel
  • Or, miraculously, everything seems fine, but somehow, our kids make poor life choices
  • Our kids may go to Harvard AND become a concert pianist, but deep down inside, they struggle with crippling self-doubt and insecurities
  • We may shower them with gifts and develop meaningful family traditions, and yet somehow over the years, they turned into an entitled, self-centered prince or princess

I mean, the list can keep going. (I think you get the idea.)

I, myself, follow a ton of other parenting blogs. And lately, I’ve been reading a lot of niceties…

Don’t be so harsh on yourself.

Stop feeling guilty.

You are doing the best you can.

As much as I recite these mantras, I cannot shake the fact that I’ve failed my kids. Already. And I will likely fail them some more. A lot more.

And as much as I would like to blame the circumstances, blame the in-laws, out-laws, peer pressure, the teacher, the school, social media, bullies… deep down inside, I know I could have done x, y, z better. Or be more mindful. More loving. Less critical. More outspoken. Less temperamental. More observant…

No matter how I tell myself to think positively, my inner-self does not cooperate.

Because maybe, as parents, intrinsically, we know that we actually do bear a burden of responsibility.

Maybe what Harry Truman says about being U.S Presidency also applies to parenting: “The buck stops here.”  As the U.S. President, he took ownership of all that is going on within the country — whether or not it’s directly his doing.  (Whether it’s true today is another topic for another day.)

As parents, aren’t we given the same high office in our kids’ lives?

After all, even in the Ten Commandments, there is a direct command to, “Honor Your Father and Mother” (Exodus 20:12). This is indeed a high office, so much so, that God purposely incorporated that calling immediately after honoring Him and keeping the Sabbath.


I used to think this was really for the kids to listen to their parents. But now, I see it there as more as establishing the weight of responsibility we have as parents. It’s an office not to be taken lightly.

Like What Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in the movie Spiderman (2002), “With great power comes with great responsibility.”

I can almost feel my breath squeezed out of me as I just typed that sentence.

Because, honestly, can’t I just try my best and give the rest to God? I mean, isn’t that what grace is for?

Yes and no.

Grace always comes paired with Truth.

Truth-oriented Christians love studying Scripture and theology. But sometimes they’re quick to judge and slow to forgive. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.

Grace-oriented Christians love forgiveness and freedom. But sometimes they neglect Bible study and see moral standards as “legalism.” They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.

Countless mistakes in marriage, parenting, ministry, and other relationships are failures to balance grace and truth. Sometimes we neglect both. Often we choose one over the other.”

(Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, p. 17)

Like a crazy pendulum, I swing between two sides. When I am faced with the stark reality of the truth of who I am and how I don’t measure up, I crumple in defeat, self-hatred, and self- criticism.

But when I swing the other way and cling only to grace – my temptation is to gloss over everything. I don’t take time for the practice of self-examination, reflection, and repentance.

But here’s the hardest thing I grasp about Christianity. Both TRUTH and GRACE are required for the full effect of the gospel.

Without one, the other doesn’t exist!

(Maybe it’s like medical treatment:  Diagnosis without treatment feels hopeless.  Without proper diagnosis, the pharmacy is useless. Healthcare is incomplete without BOTH diagnosis AND treatment plans.)

Without Truth to know how badly we failed, Grace means nothing to us.

Christianity is about living in that tension. The tension of impossibility and the attainable (the gift of Jesus). The tension between missing the mark and forgiveness. The blurred lines of trying to improve and keep working hard at something to make it better, yet, knowing that it’s grace alone that brings salvation.

So finally, I realize:  It’s OK that I keep failing at this. We all do.

In fact, I already wrote a whole other post about how our kids HELP us see things about ourselves that we DON’T want to face.

It’s good to reflect, repent, and ask God to help me become a better parent.  And yet, in my striving, I pray that I will be able to rest in His grace.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So…. sigh.  Maybe I won’t have to switch blog topics after all — especially since I know absolutely nothing about lawn-care blogging. (Phew)

So I’ll just keep blogging here on this little parenting blog. One failed attempt at a time — cataloging what I’m learning and growing as I go forth on my parenting journey.

Warts and all, I hope you’ll still stick around with me. 🙂  So that I can learn from you, too.

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  1. So True! We all feel like failures as parents, but thank God, grace and truth will get us and our kids through! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Lilly,
    Thanks for the reminders and encouragement. I’m so grateful for this post. I am so glad you are not going to stop writing about parenting! If the only people writing were perfect parents there would be no resources out there!!!

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