“How dare you wake your baby brother?!”

Screaming at my five-year-old son, I grabbed whatever that was nearest to me—a hanger—and whacked his thigh, hard.

I was fuming. I was exhausted. I was handling four kids on my own while my husband worked late, and all I wanted was for the kids to sleep. Now I had to attend to a crying baby, no thanks to his brother. I spewed out threats while attempting to rock my youngest back to sleep.

My kids were shocked, and my son cowered in fear, sobbing quietly under his blanket in bed. His mischief had unleashed the beast within me. I knew that I had been harsh, but I was just too angry to apologise.

It was only after the children had slept, that guilt began to sweep over me.

What have I done? I wondered. That was definitely not being Christlike to my children!

I was not patient, neither was I slow to anger (see 1 Corinthians 13:4­–5). In fact, I was the opposite, and my kids had surfaced the worst in me. I had not realised that I was capable of such an outburst of anger.


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Failure: An Ever-Present Part of Parenting

That night, I confessed to the Lord my impatience and short-temperedness, and the next morning, I apologised to my son and sought his forgiveness. He readily gave me a hug and said that it was okay. Children often have great capacity to forgive and forget!

It wasn’t the only time I’ve failed in my parenting journey. Over the years, I’ve been guilty of playing down my children’s fears or anxieties, and occasionally even dismissing them altogether. I’ve struggled with negative thoughts, like thinking that I should just throw in the towel and give up on them especially when they were difficult. I’ve also prayed far too little and too inconsistently for them.

I have often felt like a failure as a parent—and even more so as I am a stay-at-home mother who is supposed to be able to be there for her kids 24/7. I know I am to point my kids to Jesus, but am I really doing it? Do I truly inspire them to become followers of Christ? I highly doubt it.

Yet, in times like this, in my brokenness, I can hear a still, small voice reminding me of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “ ‘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.”

As disappointing and dismaying as it may be, I believe God understands when we fall short, when we fail Him, and when we let our kids and ourselves down. After all, He who created each one of us individually and lovingly knows our unique personalities, challenges, and flaws.

As disappointing and dismaying as it may be, I believe God understands when we fall short, when we fail Him, and when we let our kids and ourselves down.

As we are also people who are learning to overcome our sinful nature, God knows that we will also fail—and He does not condemn us. When a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus by the Pharisees, He did not condemn her. Instead, He said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:1–11).

Despite my failures as a mother, God has lovingly reminded me that His grace is more than enough for me and my children. His grace is enough to cover my parenting mistakes and faults. His grace is enough to enfold my less-than-ideal choices and ungodly behaviour and attitudes. And He does not judge nor condemn me as I look to Him for forgiveness and help.

In Philippians 3:12–14, Paul’s reminds me that I am still very much a work in progress:

Not that I have already obtained all this,
or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that
for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself
yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal
to win the prize for which God
has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Thus, let’s not be dismayed when we stumble and fall in our parenting pilgrimage. Let’s not be overwhelmed with guilt such that it paralyses us in relating to our children. Rather, let’s lean on the Spirit of God to change us and to enable us to grow in our weaknesses. Let’s press on in this parenting journey, knowing that the Lord is with us every step of the way!

Dealing with Failure

So, while we may be far from being the ideal parent or person that we dream and hope to be, we need not be discouraged or disheartened. Instead of beating ourselves up when we fail our children, here are some things that we can do:

1. Acknowledge our failings to God and pray to Him, asking Him for forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit is always ready to help us in areas of weaknesses and challenges. When we are helpless and clueless as to how to relate to our children, we can turn to Him and ask Him for wisdom. As He promises us in James 1:5, He “who gives generously to all without finding fault” will grant us godly wisdom when we pray for it.

2. Admit our mistakes to our children and seek their forgiveness.

When we do this, we are showing our kids that it is all right to fail, but we need to be humble and to learn from our blunders. As James 4:6 so aptly says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”

3. Find someone to support us in the parenting journey.

An accountability partner—such as a fellow parent or a friend at a similar stage of life—can empathise with us, encourage us, and pray with us. Or, it could be a mentor who has gone ahead of us and who can share with us his or her reservoir of experience and disappointments. As Ecclesiastes 4:12 notes, “a person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (NLT). Our parenting journey need not be a lonely one!

Perhaps, God is using our mistakes and failures to draw us to himself, so that we come to know Him better and to experience Him more personally.

As parents, we are frequently focused on our children and how our actions, decisions or behaviour affect them. And I believe God, our heavenly Father, is just as interested in us, His beloved children—He wants to mould and shape us into the people that He wants us to be.

Perhaps, God is using our mistakes and failures to draw us to himself, so that we come to know Him better and to experience Him more personally.

Instead of focusing on our inadequacies or failures, let us look to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Let us turn our eyes to Him and ask Him what is it that He is teaching us, for truly His grace is sufficient for us!


As a mother to four rambunctious kids, Lydia doubles up as nurse, clown, disciplinarian, and so others. Being a stay-at-home mum, she has learnt and is still learning that changing explosive diapers, clearing messes, separating fights, and mediating squabbles are her acts of service and love unto the Lord. She enjoys writing, reading, and a good run—and hopes that others can be encouraged through her life.
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