When I look back on my parenting I know I’ll have regrets, mainly, because I know I’m not perfect. After all, I’m always learning and changing. God is still forming Christ in me, so I’m still a work in progress. But how does knowing these things change my parenting now? I have a five-year-old, three-year-old, and an infant on the way. I haven’t traveled too far in this parenting business, but I’m already acquainted with my failures as a mom. I often thoughtfully ponder the question, “How can I fail for the glory of God and use it in my parenting?”
1.) My failure as a mom points my children to Christ.
I can from time to time get discouraged by the amount of times I sin against my little ones in a week. I know there have been situations where I respond in anger or raised my voice to get them to obey. Also, there have been circumstances where I’ve lacked patience and compassion in working with them. Though my children are young right now, I know I’ve already failed them. I don’t always extend them grace, like when my oldest son repeatedly asks me something I’ve already said no to and I become exasperated. I’ve struggled being patient with my five-year-olds attempts at reading, and I’ve yelled at my three-year-old when he wouldn’t listen. Yet, my failures remind me that my kids can’t put all their hope in me. At some point, they’ll have to come to a place where they believe God is bigger than me.
In the early stages of my current pregnancy I was fighting daily nausea and fatigue. Every afternoon I would sit my boys down with snacks and a show and tell them not to bother me as I slept. A few times I would wake up to my toddler jumping on me. One of these times I yelled at him for this great inconvenience. He cried and reached his arms out for me to hold him. I held him and told him, “I’m sorry. What mama did was wrong. Please forgive me.” I’ve told both of my sons that mama is a sinner like them and only Jesus is without sin. As a mom, I can use my failures of anger and impatience to point my children to one who is perfect for them; one who will never fail them, because He died for them. Jesus is my children’s ultimate hope in this life. Though I am His representative to them, I’m an imperfect one. So my prayer is that my children will see me for who I really am and look to Christ as One who is greater. I can tell them He is the One who nailed my failures to a tree and can do the same for them.
2.) He uses our failures to show He is strong.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” As moms, we can confidently admit our weakness instead of hiding who we are, because of the grace of God. After all, grace is only made available to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6). Until we recognize we’re needy, we won’t see our need for grace.
Jesus even said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Jesus came to earth to rescue sinful mothers in need of grace. If we think we are healthy enough on our own, then we spurn His grace and don’t live in the reality of who we are now in and through Christ. If we want the power of Christ to rest upon our mothering works, we must boast not in our kid’s accomplishments at school, sports, or other activities, but only in Christ as He works in and through us.
3.) He uses our failures to humble us.
God wants to work in us as much as He does our children. Failure is one excellent way He does this. He puts us in the daily grind of motherhood so that He can purify us and thereby better parent our children. He wants us to see and confess our sin towards our children, so we can be a real life example to them of what a true follower of Christ is. A true follower of Christ doesn’t have it all together and is not a star parent. A true follower of Christ walks humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Walking humbly before the face of God is a critical key to the Christian life. Also, we must call out sin for what it is and teach our kids it’s not right by pointing them to Christ. If our children are saved, we can also help them learn to put sin to death and put on Christ.
The best example for our kids to see is a mother confessing her failures to her children, asking for their forgiveness, and sharing with them her heart to change. This is better for our children and more realistic than a mom who has it all together. We can walk humbly with our kids, which will make a significant impact on their lives and serve them better in their failures as well. If our children see we are secure enough in Christ to admit our failures to them, then they will feel comfortable being vulnerable with God and with us.
Our failures with our little children, in our attitudes and outbursts, show us who we are in light of who God is. This should drive us to our knees and lead us to ask for more grace from God. And the more we do this; the more God promises to pour out His grace on us and show His strength and power through our weaknesses. After all, as we’ve seen in this article, God is glorified in the weaknesses and failures of motherhood.