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Do you feel like you have failed as a parent? I understand. I have had my fair share of nights tossing and turning in bed, wondering if I was handling a situation correctly.

It can be a painful process as we are far from perfect on the parenting journey. We are sinners raising sinners.

Some days are messy. We lose patience and snap, ignore bad behavior, or overreact to a situation when, in fact, it wasn’t a big deal.

Perhaps you are even feeling some shame for your mistakes. Mom guilt, anyone? So, what do you do when this happens?

Check out these six things to help you overcome feelings of failure as a parent and learn how to redeem the situation into a learning experience.

RELATED: How to Overcome Failure: 5 Steps to Restart Your Life

What Is Mom Guilt?

Mom guilt is when you feel shame, anxiety, or worry as a mother because you believe you are failing to meet expectations from your child or those around you who think you could do better.

You feel judged.

You are judged not just by those around you but also by your inner voice that says you are not good enough. Sadly, you wonder if you are a good mom because your child is out of control, failing, or making bad choices.

The worst feeling is when you watch your child go through a tough time, and you feel you are partly to blame.

The problem is that you don’t know how you could have done things differently. In the end, you made the best choice possible at the time. Looking back, you realize it was a big-time failure

The reasons are plentiful as to why your child is in pain. All you know is that you feel like a failure as a parent.

Maybe you even feel shame and regret that you couldn’t do more to mitigate the situation. Or you are experiencing shame because people are talking about your child.

So, what do you do when you feel like you’ve failed as a parent?

RELATED: Parental Anxiety: 7 Life-Changing Ways to Deal With Worry and Fear As a Mom

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What to Do When You Feel Like You’ve Failed As a Parent?

1. Live

You have to get out of bed and live, even if you feel like you’ve failed as a parent. I know this is simple, but if you and your child have had a difficult time, getting out of bed is huge.

It seems like it would be easier to isolate and not deal with reality. But that option doesn’t help anyone. Your time is better spent living because chances are it will get better.

More than anything, you have responsibilities, and people are still counting on you to get things done. Suit up and show up, even if you are feeling discouraged.

And by the way, Satan is lying to you when you feel like you’ve failed as a parent. Remember, God specifically gave you your child because you are enough.

2. Start praying

If you feel like you’ve failed as a parent, get down on your knees and start interceding on behalf of your child. Pray for God to move in your situation and bring favor to your family, even if mistakes have been made.

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Ask God to use the failure for His glory despite how it currently looks.

I can’t tell you how often the enemy has tried to knock me down. But with the armor of God, I have withstood the fiery darts despite my feelings.

Pray together with your child for an even bigger impact. Your kids need to know Jesus is their Savior too.

RELATED: How to Pray for Your Child: 6 Tips to Pray In Your War Room (Really Pray)

3. Work the Problem

Start dealing with your problem head-on. If your child is in trouble at school or with the law, comply with the consequences.

Do everything you can to help your child learn from the mistake. This is where some parents get off track.

They try to get their child out of the punishment instead of taking the time to learn the lesson. Don’t do this if your child is guilty! Make your child serve the consequences.

Your child needs to pay the ticket, go to defensive driving, serve the detention, serve the suspension, or take the class over, no matter how embarrassed you are. It will cost you more in the long run if the lesson is not learned early.

Whatever is the issue, see it through. Everyone can become better and learn from failure.

If your family needs counseling, make the time to do it. Communication between you and your child is crucial when there is a problem.

Keep loving your child and do everything you can to shore up the relationship as you untangle the problems.

This phase may take a long time. It depends on the problem.

RELATED: 9 Clever Tips For Bonding with Children (and Teens) You’ve Never Thought Of Before

4. Deal with the Shame

Shame is evil. It will try to keep you down and prevent you from living your life. One type of shame is just guilt, and the other kind is misplaced shame, that is, in fact, embarrassment or disappointment.

Then there is the full-blown shame of not wanting to exist.  

It is important to separate all three. Shame says,” I am bad.” Guilt says, ” I did something bad.” Embarrassment is a public emotion that can cause you to feel exposed, awkward, or concerned about what others think.

Hopefully, these definitions will help you decide what is real guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

I like to listen to motivational speakers when I feel discouraged. Many have had real-life struggles and share how they think they’ve failed as parents but realize it wasn’t true.

RELATED: 3 Best Tips On How to Deal with Shame and Guilt

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5. Make Apologies

If you have made mistakes, it is important to apologize to your child. Say what you have done wrong. Don’t say, “If I have done anything wrong…” Instead, name the exact offense.

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If you don’t know what you have done wrong, ask.

While your child needs to own her mistakes, you must own yours, too. Use this as an opportunity to build character in all of you.

You are both learning how to navigate difficult situations together.

Many times, life is just hard, and things happen. Your intentions were good, but you failed to communicate appropriately. There is nothing you can do but deal with the problem.

Don’t stay stuck in your pride when you feel like you’ve failed as a parent.

RELATED: The Power of Apologizing: 5 Reasons You Need to Say Sorry to Your Kids

6. Help Others

If you have had a difficult parenting situation and are through it now, help others. Don’t let your pain go to waste.

Many others feel like they’ve failed as a parent when their children make poor choices. The problem is that no one wants to talk about it. Once it is over, we tend to close the door on that nasty chapter, never to talk about it again.

Keep your ears and heart open to listening to other moms or dads struggling with the same issue you did. Share how you solved the problem (without exposing your child) if you can relate to it. Chances are someone took the time to help you along the way when you needed encouragement.

Pay it forward.

RELATED: Family Bonding Activities: Fun Ways to Spend Time Together

Faith Is the Remedy For Failure

I don’t know what I would have done without my faith in God when my kids were growing up. When I felt like I had failed as a parent, I ran into the loving arms of Jesus (and still do).

When no one else understood, God did. He knew how to bind the broken pieces and make things new again.

More than anything, God helped me realize that you can not judge your parenting through the lens of a difficult season. Furthermore, everyone has difficult seasons. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Ruth, King David, and many others also had tough parenting years.

But they all looked to God when they felt like they failed as a parent.

RELATED: 7 Compelling Reasons Not to Lose Faith in God

Just yesterday, one of my friends sent me Psalms 91 because she knew I was concerned about a situation. There is nothing like scripture (and godly friends) to help when you need extra encouragement.

I will leave you with this chapter as it helped me so much. Thanks to my sweet friend for reminding me who is in control.

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Psalm 91 Living Bible (TLB)

1 We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God above all gods.

2 This I declare, that He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague. 

4 He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. 5 Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day; 6 nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.

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7 Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me. 8 I will see how the wicked are punished, but I will not share it. 

9 For Jehovah is my refuge! I choose God above all gods to shelter me. 10 How then can evil overtake me or any plague come near? 11 For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. 

12 They will steady you with their hands to keep you from stumbling against the rocks on the trail. 13 You can safely meet a lion or step on poisonous snakes, yes, even trample them beneath your feet!

14 For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. 15 When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble, rescue and honor him. 

16 I will satisfy him with a full life[ and give him my salvation.”

What do you do when you feel like you’ve failed as a parent? Comment below.

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Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you struggling with family issues that have resulted in a family rift or a family estrangement? Are you feeling a sense of shame, anger, or rejection?  Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.

In it, I share my own experience of a seven-year estrangement from my Christian family and how we eventually reconciled. Furthermore, I provide practical advice to help you navigate your own family issues.

Don’t let the pain of estrangement hold you back. Allow God to assist you in healing, no matter what has happened within your family. Remember, there is always hope to be found, even when things seem to be falling apart.

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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the Christian Family Living group. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!

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Author

Julie is a wife, mom, teacher, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, parenting with a touch of humor.

16 Comments

  1. This is terrible, stop being terrible parents and acting like it’s okay, if you aren’t ready to raise a kid get an abortion

    • I’m so sad that you feel this way. I am guessing you had a very difficult childhood. Sadly, the world says that aborting is going to fix things. This is a huge lie from the pit of hell. There is always adoption if you don’t feel like you can be a good parent. My post is for any parent who wants to improve their parenting skills. At one time or another, we all wonder if we are doing things right. It is hard to know. What worked for one child doesn’t always work for another. Each child is uniquely and wonderfully made by God. We need God daily to help guide us through the difficult times of raising kids. I am certainly not a perfect parent by any means, but to think about aborting one of my own babies just because I wasn’t going to be perfect is ludicrous. Life is the most precious gift you can give someone. Love is right there with it. Satan is out to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus is here to give us life abundantly. I pray you will ask God to show you His love for you. You are precious and wonderfully made and so is every other baby conceived in the womb.

  2. Thank you for writing this! People always think because I’ve got 6 kids that I’m a perfect parent. Not! I fail everyday and I love your tips about how to deal with our failures. Such great perspective and insight into parenting kids!!

  3. I needed this right now. My exact words today was I feel like I failed as a mom. The feeling can break your spirit but when God reminds you that he is in control it relieves the guilt. Thank you!!!

    • Michelle, I am so glad this helped you. I pray God will touch your heart and help you see his love in great ways. Parenting is not easy. We all have a few failures. It is what you do with them that counts. If we get back up and keep going, we can learn from our mistakes and move on to do it right the next time.

  4. I think I needed to read this. I’m so prone to just beating myself up about stuff. Thank you so much for putting this out there.

    • Kayla, I am glad this could help you. Failure is part of learning. The important thing is to keep picking yourself up and improving. Thanks for reading.

  5. Thanks for opening up about a problem that many parents have faced. I’m sure your tips will make a big difference!

  6. I appreciate your transparency and realness. Parenting, like every other facet of life, is about rinse and repeat… rinsing off the dirt and stains and starting again with a clean garment! Definitely sharing this with my audience!

    • Michelle, thanks for sharing with your audience. I like the rinse and repeat idea. I’ll have to remember that.

    • Thanks, Taylor. I am glad you enjoy Dr. Dobson. He’s definitely one of my favorite people to listen to. He’s got great advice.

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