how your parenting mistakes can help your kids

parenting mistakesWe all want to get this parenting gig perfect, don’t we?

Sure, there’s lots of “confessing” out there. Plenty of people telling you that it’s okay to not to get it right every time. Myself included!

But. let’s be honest, in our hearts of hearts, we really do want to get it right with our kids.

I know I continually feel the pressure and responsibility of being my kids’ 24/7 role model. And as long as that pressure stays at a healthy level, it’s a good thing. For them and for me. It motivates me to stay close to God. To fight off those impulses to be selfish or sarcastic. I’m a better person because of my kids.

But, as we all know, we’re going to make parenting mistakes. We’re going to mess up in life in general — in our marriages, in our work life.

And our kids are watching nearly every single one. Sigh.

But they’re watching something else, too. They’ve also got a keen eye on how we handle our mistakes.

Don’t you learn a lot more by your mistakes than your successes? Well, I’m convinced our kids do, too. We can model character and godliness to them in incredibly powerful ways by how we respond to our inevitable face plants!

Here’s a few valuable messages we can send our kids:

Grace is readily available.

As a recovering perfectionist, I can be so hard on myself when I lose my temper. Or when I give in when I should have stood firm. When I’ve forgotten to bring something important to my son’s 8th grade graduation (just happened, by the way.) Over the years, I’ve become much better at accepting the grace that God so readily offers. Because I want my kids to be able to do that, too.

Mistakes aren’t fatal. 

Mistakes are part of the journey. God isn’t surprised by a single one. If we can look at them in this way and ask God to still somehow use it for our good. I tend to set impossibly high standards for myself. Yet, I know that God has used some of my biggest mistakes to ultimately lead to my most powerful victories. When we don’t allow ourselves to be defined by our failures, but continue to persevere, it tells our kids, “Mistakes aren’t fatal. We can recover. Look for the good God wants to bring out of it. Keep trying.”

Forgiveness is the key to freedom. 

I have made plenty of parenting mistakes. In fact, there are certain screw-ups I can’t even think about too long, or else I start feeling defeated. When I know I’ve been forgiven. My kids would readily admit they don’t have a perfect mom. But they’d also be quick to say that I ask for their forgiveness when I’ve wronged them in some way. And I try to make things right, if at all possible. This brings freedom and restores our relationship, as well as my relationship with God.

Our need for God.

Every time I mess up, it reminds me of how human I am. How much I am in need of a Savior who can show me how to move forward. Who gives me strength. I verbalize my need for a His help all the time. Praise Him when He shows up — in little and big ways. I want my kids to know that no matter how many times they fall, they have a God who is always able and willing to help them get up again.

We are always going to make mistakes. 

But we can still get it right if we show our kids how they can learn from them. 

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  • I wish I could always remember this. Sometimes I beat up myself wondering if my children will ever forget the goof or not. But then I thank God for grace and the times I do get it right.
    Thanks for sharing this hardly discussed topic.

    • {Melinda} Thanks, Ugochi. It’s an issue I’ve struggled with. I feel like I’ve made so many mistakes. That I continue to make so many mistakes. I started looking at what my kids might be learning from their very imperfect mama. 🙂

  • I have such a hard time with this. I NEVER want to disappoint my kids and I wish I could STOP and give myself more of a break. I am working on it. I am always quick to admit my faults and mistakes and to explain to my kids- “Mommy is not perfect. Only God is and we have to ask Him for His help all day long because everyday we will make mistakes and it is OKAY.” But I need to take that and imprint it into my heart and soul. That is the “real work” that I need to do. Especially as a Mom who works outside the home I put such a strong spotlight on those hours I do have with my kids and try even harder to make them “perfect”. I experience this on my job too. I blogged about this recently about finding the treasures in our “I’m not enough, good enough” moments. You have identified those treasures- Grace, Finding Perspective (Mistakes not being fatal), Forgiveness and Needing God. LOVED IT! I can share the blog post if anyone is interested. Have a blessed day!

    • {Melinda} I think we put so much pressure on ourselves as moms. Some pressure is good. It drives us to be better mamas. But I know I can get hung up on always getting it right and then I get uptight and controlling. It is a delicate balance, for sure — one that has to be led by the Holy Spirit! 🙂


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i’m melinda


I’m a woman who was radically changed when the God I thought I knew since childhood opened my eyes to the overwhelming depth of His love for me. I love speaking, writing, and pointing women to the Father so they can experience for themselves the healing power of His incredible, captivating love.

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