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How to Find Biblical Joy When You Think You’ve Failed As a Parent

"A mother is a chalice, the vessel without which no human being has ever been born. What a solemn responsibility. What an unspeakable privilege—a vessel divinely prepared for the Master's use." Elisabeth Elliot

I do not think there is anything in this world that I have poured myself into as much as I poured myself into nurturing and raising my children. I read everything I could get my hands on that might help me be a better mom. I did not let anything get in the way of my being there for them. I worked hard to tune in, encourage them, share the gospel, tell them how much I loved them, and connect with them in any way I could. I was quick to ask for forgiveness when I sinned against them, and I tried to keep the lines of communication open so that they knew they could talk with me about anything whenever they needed to. For over 18 years, I woke up every day with the goal of being the best mom I could be.

My children grew up and married exactly one year apart, and we entered a new season. It took a while to adjust and find a new rhythm, but we adjusted. I assumed that, since we had worked so hard to pour into our children as they grew up, we would move right into having a good relationship now that they were adults. I moved forward and continued to pour into them in new ways, thinking I was doing a decent job as a mom of adult kids and a mom-in-law. After all, I had read all the books, and I studied what I was supposed to do and not do.

As the months went by, one thing led to another, and some honest, heart-to-heart talks with my children took place. Each of them shared openly about some things from their childhood and about their father and me that had affected them negatively. They wanted to talk about these things so that they could process them and so that we could work on some things together. It was needed. It was a good and healthy thing to do. Yes, I was grateful they could talk with us about these things, but I also grieved. Why? Because I felt like I had failed them.

I had failed as a mom.

Verses to Help You When You When You Think You've Failed As a Parent

Colossians 2:13–14 "When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross."

As hard as we try, it is impossible to be a perfect parent. We are going to sin against our children in some way. We are continuing to grow and mature as we raise them, and they will see our weaknesses and our sin. We can rest in the fact that God has forgiven our sins, and we humbly ask for forgiveness from our children for the ways we have let them down.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "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 about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me."

We are not called to be perfect parents; we are called to boast about our weaknesses. God's power takes weak parents and uses them anyway. His grace is there for us when we fail, and it is there for us when we are weak.

Colossians 2:13–14 "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross."

We are not " enough," and we will never be "enough." No matter how hard I tried, how much I poured out for the sake of my kids, and how much I read, it was not enough. I was not enough. But Christ IS more than enough. He gives me a fresh start each day and will continue to help me grow up until the day I go to be with him. He is the one who strengths me and enables me to ask for forgiveness from my children. He is the one that picks me up when I see all the ways that I have failed and strengthens me as I continue this parenting journey with adult children. I will never be enough. He will always be enough.

What Good Comes When You Think You've Failed As a Parent

  • We have the opportunity to humbly admit to our children that we are weak people in the process of growth and learning and to ask for forgiveness for how we have failed them.
  • We are again reminded that anything good that might be seen in our lives, our children's lives, or our family is only present because God is among us and is using us despite our weakness. He is the one doing the good work that needs to be done.
  • We have another reason to lean into God and receive his comfort and encouragement. He knew we would not be perfect parents and is there for us when we see our failures.

Find Biblical Joy by Focusing on God

Thank Him for Who He Is:

Father, thank you for being Yahweh - "The Lord Who Heals." Please pour out your grace on my children and enable them to process the things they need to process so they can be healed and used powerfully for your purposes – despite who their parents were!

Thank Him for His Faithfulness:

Father, you are faithful. Thank you for faithfully exposing my failures and reminding me that I will never be enough. Thank you for being more than enough! Thank you for using me in the lives of my children.

Thank Him for His Promises:

Father, thank you for your promises that your strength will empower me where I am weak and that you have chosen me to have the privilege of parenting two gifts from you, my children. Thank you for the promise that you will redeem my failure. Thank You that You have made me to be "a vessel divinely prepared for Your use."

Thank Him for His Provisions:

Thank you for the wisdom you have provided me over the years as I raised my children and for all the ways you provided for them as they grew up. Help them to see clearly how you worked in their lives over the years and how uniquely you provided for them in every season of their lives.

To learn more about how to choose biblical joy, check out my book “Everyday Prayers for Joy”!  

For weekly encouragement on how to choose biblical joy in all circumstances, subscribe to “Choose Biblical Joy Today 

This article is part of a series by Gina Smith on biblical joy. Here are more of her articles:

How to Find Biblical Joy When You Have Been Treated Unfairly

How to Find Biblical Joy When You Battle Depression

Finding Biblical Joy in Loneliness

How to Find Biblical Joy When Life Doesn’t Look the Way You Thought it Would

Premium PDF Compilation - Finding Biblical Joy in the Midst of Trials

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Dean Mitchell

Gina Smith is a writer and author. She has been married for 34 years to Brian, a college professor, and athletic trainer. For 25+ years she and her husband served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents, where Brian was a professor and dean of students. They reside right outside of Washington DC and are the parents of two grown children, one daughter-in-law, and one son-in-law. She recently authored her first traditionally published book Everyday Prayers for Joy, available everywhere books are sold. You can find Gina at the following:, Instagram, , and at Million Praying Moms, where she is a writer. 

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