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HELP! What if I screw up my child?!

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Yep, we've all been there, kept awake at night wondering if we are screwing up our children. Our minds race with questions. "Did I make the right decision?" "Should I have pushed them harder?" "Maybe I should've been easier on them." With all the parenting advice out there it is difficult to know what is the "best" or "right" thing to do. As parents, we struggle daily with guilt over ways we have responded and anxiety over what the future will hold.

To this day my children will relay stories of times when my parenting skills were less than stellar. There was the time I scolded my young son for playing with ketchup, only to discover it wasn't ketchup. He had slit his head open and needed to go to the emergency room for stitches. Or the time I yelled at one of my daughters for biting her sister, only to later to discover that the "victimized" child had bit herself to get her sister in trouble. Then there was the time I raced my teenage son to the hospital, while sobbing and screaming that he was dying of a heart attack. Later it was determined that it was not a heart attack, but instead a panic attack. Nothing calms an anxious, panicky adolescent like their mother screaming that they are dying. These are just a few of my millions of imperfect parenting examples. Truth be told, there are many more mistakes that I have made that were MUCH more devastating then any of the events I have just shared. Even though my children are now adults, it would still sting to be so vulnerable as to share those moments publicly. Mom guilt is a real, and lasting thing.

The truth is that we all have moments when we wonder about our ability to parent the children that God has given us. Moments when we have lashed out at them, not paid enough attention to them, struggled to be kind or even remotely functional. Life is hard, and even though we wear the title of Mom or Dad, we are still human. We have bad days, on occasion we make bad choices, and sometimes we are inadequate to meet all the needs of our children. This is not to let you off the hook, or to discourage you, it is simply the ground level truth. Here is where good part comes in, listen closely...

You were not designed to be the sole source, or deciding factor in determining your child's future outcome in life.

Yep, that right. You are not the one who holds all the keys to your child's future. (And let's be honest, at least in my case, that's a really good thing based on past track records.) Your role is incredibly important; but you are not the only influence in your child's life.

God has created systems in which several people get to be involved. He has placed teachers, coaches, family members, neighbors, friends and so many more people in their lives, to step up and step in, on occasions when our parenting falls short. One of the things that has consistently helped me is knowing that God is ultimately in control. He uses other people to reach my children, to provide for my children and to care for my children. Sometimes He even uses others to heal my children from the effects of ways that I have messed up and caused them harm.

Another truth that helps keep me anchored, it that each of my children has their own story to live out. Each circumstance, each choice, each consequence or achievement is theirs to live. I am a supportive character in their story, not the main character, that is a role that is solely reserved for them.

You will, in some ways, mess up your children, we all do. You were never called to be a perfect parent. You were were called to parent the child that God has given you to the best of your ability at any given point in time. Rest assured that God has a plan for both you and for your child. He can and will work that plan out using all the resources that are at His disposal. You are not alone in the parenting of your child, where you fall short, He steps in.

2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness."

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