Day 1: You Are Not A Failure - Parenting with God’s Peace

Day 1: You Are Not a Failure

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22, NIV)

A mom recently said to me, “I’m so worried about not getting it right with my kids that I’m not even being a good parent.” The mom who said these words actually is a great parent. But she’s so afraid she’s failing her kids that she can’t even enjoy the process. You may feel the same way. In my thirty-plus years of counseling, I’ve never seen parents feel as much pressure or as much like failures as they do today. I’ve never had as many parents in tears in my office. And I’ve certainly never seen as many parents who live in a perpetual state of worry. How would you say worry affects you, as a parent? I certainly believe, after sitting with parents day in and day out in my office, that not only do you worry more because you are a parent, but those worries affect you differently as well.

The anxiety may not even be a conscious thought, but it’s likely one that lies just under the surface and is tapped into all too easily. It’s an anxiety that undergirds every late pickup, every forgotten school note, every blown temper, and almost every normal day in between. Anxiety plays tricks, and the tricks it plays are insidious. Its primary goal is to consume our thoughts in a way that defeats us—that keeps us from being present to our lives and with the kids we love. So the worry loops around the very things we’re most afraid of. In fact, we could do a timeline from the age of onset right up through adulthood. For younger children, anxiety often loops around something bad happening to one of their parents, which is the scariest thing they can imagine happening at that age. They get a little older, and it’s getting in trouble or even getting a stomach bug. A little older, and it might be a fear of getting a bad grade or getting on an airplane. A little older, and it’s performing poorly in a track meet or embarrassing themselves socially. A little older (like today, for you), and it’s being a failure as a parent. Worry is wise to target our fears right where we live, or think, with enough power to consume our thoughts and make us truly feel like a failure.

Let’s dispel that lie right here: You are not a failure as a parent.

Even the fact that you would read a devotional about your own anxiety rather than just that of your children means that you are intentional. The fact that you deal with worry and anxiety means that you care deeply, you’re trying hard, and you’re getting a whole lot more right than you are wrong. I want you to trust me. You’re not a failure. Nothing is wrong with you, and you are certainly not the only one who feels this way.

Reflect: What do you worry about most as a parent? How does this worry affect you? Bring these worries to God and ask him to calm your anxious heart with the truth.

From the Book: