Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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When You Feel Like a Parenting Failure

  • blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos
  • Published Jan 19, 2021

When my oldest was three years old, we accepted a position of pastor back in our home state of Oklahoma. We had lived in Texas for a number of years, and we were more than ready to be home!

In an attempt to help my son prepare for the change, I pointed all the good things he was going to experience on our visit to Oklahoma.

‘Let’s go visit your new church!”

“Do you like your new house?”

“Let’s pick out your new room!”

“Here’s your new school and your new teacher!”

“Aren’t you excited about your new playground across the street from your church?”

Endlessly, I tried to talk about all of the exciting new things he was going to experience, hoping he would be excited about the move.

On the day the movers came to pack our belongings for the trip north, I found my sweet little Blake sitting on the front porch, head resting on his hands. He looked somewhat dejected. I spoke to him for a few minutes and then moved on. There was so much to do!

A little while later, Blake came sauntering into my bedroom as the movers packed up the last few things. Blake had a look of surprise on his face.

“You mean you’re coming with me?” he asked with a sense of excited anticipation.

Oh, how my heart broke! In all of my attempts to help my precious three-year-old get excited for the upcoming changes, I failed to realize he thought he was the only one moving! His little mind interpreted all my attempts at getting him excited about his new room, his new church, his new playground as just that—it was his and his only! He thought we were sending him away to live on his own!

I’m not sure there has ever been a moment as heart-breaking as that one. My good intention had totally devastated my child. My plan had completely back-fired.

I felt like a complete failure as a parent.

Fortunately, Blake was a forgiving child and recovered completely. He doesn’t hate me for my mom-failure, and he grew to love our first home in Oklahoma. I am so thankful for grace extended from my kids.

Looking back, we have been able to laugh at my faux pas all those years ago. I wish I could say it was the only time I had ever felt like a failure as a parent, but it’s not. And I am willing to bet you have struggled with your own parenting failures.

Maybe it’s the child who has walked away from the faith after being raised in the faith.

Maybe it’s the child who has fallen victim to addiction.

Maybe it’s the child who struggles with his/her sexuality.

Maybe it’s the child who has dropped out of school.

Maybe it’s the child who became a teen parent.

Maybe it’s the child who is simply making poor choices.

Or maybe it’s the child who has turned his/her back on you.

I don’t know your exact situation, but I do know what it is to feel that you have failed as a parent. I’ve cried many tears and said many prayers over my own failures. I’ve cried out to God to help me understand what He is doing in the midst of my heartache.

I’ve also found the reassurance of my Father as He reminds me that He is still in control. I’ve taken comfort in the principles found in scripture that He never leaves us or our children. I’ve been reminded constantly that He loves my children far more than I ever could.

Through all of my parenting failures, I find hope in the Father.

If you are feeling like a failure, here’s a few reminders for you:

When I am not enough, He is more than enough. I think one of the hardest things for me as a single parent was raising my boys. I always worried because I couldn’t teach them the manly aspects of life. Heck, I have never even changed a tire! How could I raise a warrior for Christ when I was made to be a princess?

I have spent many hours reminding myself that my job is simply to be faithful to love my kids and walk in obedience to Him; He is responsible for the rest.

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

We must remember that He is more than enough. He is the perfect Father, and He will take up the slack.

He makes all things work together for good. I know these days are hard. I know we wonder how good can ever come from the pain we are suffering. But God…

God is faithful in all things. He is good all the time. He takes the most horrible situations and makes something beautiful from them.

The doubt and fear your kids are facing? It can lead to a deeper faith. The struggle with drugs? God can transform your child and create a ministry. The bad choices he is making? God can open his eyes and use his bad choices to revolutionize the world.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

He gets the last word. Things may seem grim right now. Maybe you feel like you will never see the other side of this season, you will never see your child restored. We have to remember that God is not finished! As long as there is breath in our lungs, there is still hope for total restoration. As long as we still walk this earth, God will continue working. One day… One way… He will have us put together and on our feet for good.

The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. 1 Peter 5:10-11 (The Message)

As I find myself struggling, I remind myself that my job is to cast all my cares on Him. He doesn’t want me carrying this burden; He wants to carry it for me. My job is simply to rest in Him and trust that the seeds I have planted will one day come to fruition.