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L I F E  

What to Do When You Make a Parenting Mistake

July 27, 2015


I felt sick to my stomach. The TV series had been a fun way for us to connect with our growing teens, but it had turned inappropriate and bizarre. It was supposed to be mild, and I trusted the source from whom it had been recommended. The first shows we watched were fine. But like so much of our pop culture, it pulls us in, and then plunges into themes and elements that are simply garbage. Pollution for our minds. When I realized this one particular show in the series was headed in this direction, I should have turned it off. But I didn’t. I let my kids finish watching it, even though my spirit was churning and I even voiced several times that I didn’t like it.

Bottom line: it was a mistake.

And you know what? We’re parents. And we’re imperfect. And we’re going to make them. I wish so badly that this truth were not so. I want to do right by my kids- to do everything well, and to make the wise decision all of the time.

But that kind of pressure will do us in.

We’ll lose sleep, fight depression, and let anxiety run wild. So how do we handle these inevitable moments of failed parenthood that sneak up and surprise us?

Acknowledge the Mistake – I sat my kids down the next day after the show, and I told them how sorry I was that I didn’t turn the program off. Explaining why it mattered, I was able to share WHY I felt the way I did, and offer my perspective. It allows them to see how we own responsibility for a mistake, and, with humility, admit error.

Learn from It – We can beat ourselves up over bad parenting, or we can use it for growth. While we can’t go back, we can move forward in strength. One of the ways to redeem our mistakes is to learn from them and not repeat them again. For example, after that show, I made a declaration that we would no longer be watching that program. I also transferred that learning and tightened up in another area where I had grown lazy.

Use it as a Teaching Tool – Our kids are learning all of the time. Some of it is from us, some from others. They will be exposed to things that make us sad. If your mistake is of a personal nature (like anger), then take the opportunity to educate and discuss how we handle feelings. If it’s more of an exposure issue, then use it as an opportunity to offer your perspective and education.

Move On & Be Kind – We are often our worst critics! We are quick to condemn, and find it hard to forgive. Be kind, and offer the same grace to yourself that you offer to others. Then… move on. It doesn’t do anyone any good when we continually flog ourselves mentally. Make a conscious decision to pick it up, throw it away, and then don’t look back.

Parenting is one of the most imperfect journeys on earth.

Let’s use our failures to make us stronger and wiser parents –

perfectly imperfect, full of grace, and better than we were yesterday.

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  1. Megan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience in this way! As the mom of kids of all ages, I make mistakes more than I care to admit. But I know it is one of the BEST ways to model to your kids that it’s okay to make mistakes and we learn from them… Bless you for your example!

    • kristagilly says:

      Isn’t that the truth Megan??? We have to model it first. Thanks so much for weighing in on this! Blessings to you!


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