Learning From Parenting Failures

Covid-19 has turned everything upside down. We used to feel like we were in control of our lives, now we feel like we are not. This is especially disconcerting, when we are talking about our kids. 

Maybe you used to feel like a good parent, and now you find yourself yelling at your kids a lot.

I thought it might be helpful for you if I talked about my top parenting mistakes and what I learned from my failures.

The truth is you and I are going to fail at parenting sometimes, but it’s important to remember that failure is rarely the end of the game. 

Sometimes I wish I could have a do-over, and then I re-think that thought. I do not want to go through that again.

I love my children, but helping your child become an adult can be painful. Life will not give me a do-over, but I can share with you about my parenting failures in the hopes that you may not make the same mistakes that I made.

If I did get a chance to do a do-over these are the top five things I would do differently.

1.      I would let my kids say “No” to me, sometimes.

I know that the Bible says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord,” but God didn’t say that because I am such a great parent. Sometimes I make stupid decisions.

Why is it important that my kids learn to say no?

The most basic boundary word is the word no.

If we teach our kids to always say “Yes,” then they will not know how to say “No” when they need to.

They will say “Yes” to the good and the bad, and that is not good.

2.     I would focus less on obedience and more on teaching my kids to think for themselves.

For years I thought I was a good parent because my kids obeyed me, but obedience is just first base.

The home run is to get our kids to think for themselves and make wise decisions.

A life changing book for me was “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend.

3.    I would kiss dating “Hello.”

In the Nineties, I read a book called, “I Kissed Dating Goodby.” I liked the book when I first read it. I talked with my kids about courting instead of dating. They thought it was great too.  Well, they were only eight and ten at the time. When they became teenagers their thoughts changed.

The concept of courtship is to include your parents in your dating life.

The idea is to get good communication going between the teenager and his or her parents, but that is not what happened in our family.

My son’s first girlfriend was a poor choice, but by the time we found out it was too late. They were already emotionally involved. He didn’t feel like he was allowed to date, so he hid it from us.

The irony is instead of encouraging communication with our son, the concept of courtship hindered it.

Courtship sounds great to a parent, “I get to decide who you date.” The truth is the reason this feels so good to a parent, is that we are afraid to trust our kids to make wise choices in this area.

Debbie did a better job with our daughter.

When Missy became interested in boys, she would talk to her Mom about the boys she liked. Mom would say things like, “Oh I think he is cute too.” Debbie became her best friend.

The goal is keep the communication lines open! You want your teenagers to keep talking to you, especially when you disagree with their decisions.

4.    I would control my temper.

Every one of us deals with anger, but we process it differently. Your anger tells you when someone has crossed your boundaries. Anger is a normal part of life, but it’s wrong to say words in anger to punish someone.

When my kids were teenagers, I am embarrassed to admit, that I did a lot of yelling. It wasn’t until my son had left home that I learned how to bite my tongue and control my temper.

Here is a scripture that helped me.

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Proverbs 12:16

5.    I would let my kids watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I’m not sure why, but we didn’t let our kids watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They still complain about it today claiming we “scarred them for life.”

I grew up with Spiderman and Batman, so I was comfortable with the Super Heroes from the Sixties, but I didn’t like the new Turtle Super Heroes.

My observation is that when a new fad comes out, we think it must be wrong because it is so popular. The truth is that I was too lazy to watch the show and make an educated decision.

There you have it, my top five parenting failures. You may be wondering how did my kids turn out?

They both love God and they like hanging around us. My favorite moments in life are hanging with my kids and my grandkids.

How did that happen when I made so many mistakes?

There is this thing called forgiveness that helps us with our relationships. Not only does God forgive us, but He also gives us the power to forgive one another.

I feel like I’m a better parent today than I’ve ever been. I just get to use my new found skills on my grandkids.

Now it is your turn. What are some of your parenting failures? We all make them. How have your failures made you a better parent?

P.S. We have created a curriculum for kids on choices. This teaching grew out of my own pain of learning how to teach my kids to make choices. The teaching on Choices is part of the Finding God series.

For more info: Super Church 2.0 FINDING GOD

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