My Top Five Failures As A Parent

My Top Failures As A Parent

You may not think very highly of me after reading this blog, but I’m willing to take the risk.

It’s hard to talk about failure, but it might help someone and it’s therapeutic for me.

Bottom line, even if it doesn’t help you it will help me.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”  Mark Twain

People refer to this quote by Mark Twain when they are talking about how kids begin to appreciate their parents after they become adults, but I want to look at this quote from the other side.


As I write this blog my kids are 26 and 24-years old.

Granted my kids learned a lot as they launched out on their own, but my wisdom also increased in the years that my kids went from being teenagers to being adults.

Mostly I learned what not to do.

I did many things right and I made a lot of mistakes, but I’m a better person and a better parent because of failing forward.

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 that doesn’t mean that I am always right. 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 don’t know how to say no.

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.

3.    I would kiss dating hello.

In the nineties I read a book called “I Kissed Dating Good-By”.

I loved the book when I first read it.

I talked with my kids about courting instead of dating.

They thought it was great too.

Of course, 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.

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 reason this feels so good to a parent is that we are afraid to trust our kids to make wise choices in this area.

Deb did a better job with our daughter.

When Missy was a teenager she would talk to her Mom about the boys she liked.

Mom would say things like “Oh I think he is cute too.” Mom became her best friend.

The goal is keep the communication lines open!

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 ashamed to admit that I did this with some frequency.

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 those new Turtle super heroes.

I think sometimes 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 are serving in ministry.

2012 Family
Lance, Missy, Debbie, Mark Sr., Mark, James, Katie

Missy is married to Lance McKinnon. (I call him Sir Lancelot.) They are serving as Kidmin Pastors at Family Church and Lance is working with us at SuperChurch.Com.

My son, Mark is married to a good Mississippi girl, named Katie. They have one son, James who is full of joy. Mark recently returned from serving our country in Iraq. He is currently helping me plant Family Church in Hopkins, MN.

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.

The good news of this article is that there is hope for you and your kids.

Now it is your turn. What are some of your parenting failures?


14 thoughts on “My Top Five Failures As A Parent

  1. M Perez says:

    OMGsh! This article was the best! I had to laugh out loud. It could have been me writing it. Our daughter is 24 and our son is 32 and both of them have said the same things about Mutant Ninja Turtles… just the other day as the matter of fact. We, too, read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. We also would have handled that period a little differently. In spite of our shortcomings, both of children still live for God and survived our hyper-spritual years. (BTW – they grew up on Super Church – thank you.)

    • Super Church says:

      As this article states, over the years, we have realized a few things and can now laugh at ourselves at some of them. So, for Christmas we bought Teenage Mutant Ninja T-shirts for the guys as gifts. We all laughed and they loved them – our joke on us. (Debbie)

  2. John J says:

    Great stuff!! I will share and hope every parent I know reads it – appreciate your transparency and wisdom – Bblessed!

  3. Vanessa Bell says:

    It’s hard to raise Godly children in this era, with so many different outside influences. What really stuck out for me was point #2 “focus less on obedience and more on teaching my kids to think for themselves”. I have to remind myself, almost daily, that I won’t always be here for my son. And he needs to start thinking for himself, yes, he will make mistakes, but we all have. But as long as he has that foundation that he can always turn to God for wisdom and guidance and trust in the Holy Spirit, then things will be okay. I need to trust my son, the teaching that I have given him thus far and above all else trust God; ultimately, he is His child anyway, I am just the steward. My son is 11.

  4. Kymburly Odell says:

    I wish I had known my children’s Love Language ( Gary Chapmans book The Five Love Languages) when they were younger. I also realized where I was out if balance in expectations, when I learned my Love Language. My son’s top love language is physical touch whereas it is at the bottom of mine. My top is Acts of Service so when he failed to do his chores it was a major lack of respect to me, where in reality he was a kid and simply forgot. Knowing my love language helped me balance my expect ions and knowing his helped me learn to hold and kiss him more. Unfortunately he was already 16years old and I had to overcome a lot of damage already done . He is 33 years old and we are close but I would do a lot of things differently if I knew then what I know now due to the enoous insight The Five Love Languages taught me.

  5. Dick Gruber says:

    Thanks for writing this piece. Every parent could learn from this. Your thoughts line up well with those of Christian parenting author, Scott Turansky. He has a killer email newsletter for parents. ( As a father, grandfather of eleven and children’s worker I’ve learned the importance of saying I’m sorry to my kids. Bill Cosby once said, “Parents are like doctors. They’re always practicing.” I pray that those reading your blog will practice parenting with prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is obvious from your writing that you have done this. God bless.

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