When it comes to parenting, I’m guessing you’re like me. I don’t like making mistakes. And when my kids make mistakes, I like it even less. Honestly speaking, I am not fond of the fact that I need to come to terms with allowing my kids to make mistakes. I like order, and I like structure. I like it when everything is perfectly planned, and it all falls neatly into place. I feel safe in that lane where order and structure flow nicely together. I’m comfortable in those environments when things go according to plan, and I can know what to expect.
Except that’s not real life. Things are going to happen that throw us off course, and even more so, they are going to happen often while raising tiny humans. My kids are going to make mistakes, and I will be the first to admit that it turns my stomach into knots. Sometimes I’m thrown off guard. Other times I’m simply reminded that they are just being kids. And when they make a mistake in public, my first instinct is to be embarrassed and make excuses—like somehow my kids’ behavior is wrapped up in my identity as a parent and their mistakes point out my failure to be a good parent.
Boy, am I glad that is most certainly not the case. God’s gentle grace reminds me that in order to learn, mistakes must happen. And what I view as a mistake isn’t really a mistake at all—it’s a lesson in motion. You see, if my kids never make mistakes, they wouldn’t really be living. They would be perfectly protected and confined, afraid to take chances and step outside the lines, even when those lines are meant to be crossed.
I’m so thankful that when I step outside the lines God places around me, he is gracious to gently remind me of the lesson to be learned. He tells me that I did not completely fail as a person, but rather that I learned a valuable lesson. This is the same mindset I need to have when my kids make mistakes. God doesn’t expect perfection from me, and neither should I expect perfection from my kids.
Demanding that our kids be perfect sets them up for a lifetime of failure and wanting to please others. Instead, giving our children grace and letting them make their mistakes allows them to learn good behavior and make good decisions. By realizing their failures are not our failures, we can show them grace and love. Grace and love—the two greatest ways we can tangibly show God’s love to our children.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.