Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps (Psalm 135:6).
Anytime there is parent/child conflict, the first place to assess the situation is always with the plank in your eye (Matthew 7:3-5). But after repentance, you must move past the failures. If you don’t, you will make them worse. It is instructive when a parent does not leave their “parenting sins” with Jesus (1 John 1:9). The biggest problem with staying stuck on parenting failure is the self-centered nature of it. The parent becomes the plaintiff, prosecuting attorney, and judge of the child’s problems.
Self-centered complaining and condemnation is a godless, hermetically sealed, closed system that does not account for God’s sovereign care in your life. It does not allow the Lord to be part of the situation. A stuck parent in regret is a call to re-index the heart back to the gospel. Most people will say “yes and amen” to reorienting their minds to the goodness and freedom found in the gospel, but doing it is a challenging matter.
If your child is making mistakes, you must answer what went wrong, which always includes more than “failed parenting.” One of those other things is that God is permitting your child’s mistakes to happen. Yes, God is in your child’s mistakes. How could omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient God do otherwise? You will not be free from the “failed parenting mantra in your head” until you acknowledge, accept, and rest in God’s role in your child’s life.
Parents who blame themselves perpetually for their child’s failure are not trusting God the way they should. They are stuck with no remedy, so they blame themselves for what’s wrong. Rather than focusing blame on yourself or your child, it would be wiser to understand God’s role in your family’s problems. This process begins by letting go of what you want for your child—according to your expectations and resolved according to your timetable.
As long as you refuse to let go of your dreams and desires for your child, no matter how biblical they may sound, you will always be in bondage to their failures. Your slavery will take on many forms like blame, criticalness, despair, depression, bitterness, hopelessness, frustration, and confusion. The first question you want to examine is what’s going on in your heart. What is it that keeps a vice-grip on your heart? The obvious answer is unbelief: you are not trusting God functionally.
You may be a believer, but from a functional perspective, you’re an untrusting one. Ironically, it’s your child’s unwillingness to trust God that reveals a heart of unbelief in you, which is a mercy from the Lord that He would use your child to help you draw closer to Him. As you address your heart of unbelief, the next thing you must do is release your child from your expectations. If you attempt to “over-protect” your child from failure, you will be an accomplice in the child’s failures.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).