Overcoming Parent Guilt Through the Grace of the Gospel

Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty…(Dt 11:2).

There are many things that I want to pass down to my daughter. Things like; kindness, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, and grace. As much as I want to pass things these down to her I know that not much will be accomplished if I am not leaning hard into grace. That being, grace for myself.
If there is one thing I have noticed these short few weeks of being a parent it’s that parent guilt is a real and powerful force. I constantly hear this voice trying to weasel its way into my heart and mind saying, ‘see Heather, you ARE a failure as a parent.” I cannot live in the freedom of the grace of God and therefore, extend that grace to my daughter if I allow this voice to be the one that directs me throughout the day. You see, this voice makes me respond and act out of fear and insecurity. This voice traps me and makes me overly anxious.
I can only imagine how much more intense this voice will become as my child grows. Will I hear that voice of accusation when she messes up at school? Has a bad day in the nursery at church or lies to another adult? I’m sure that voice will ring loudly through the halls of my own heart and mind and if I do not have grace for myself I will fall prey to shame and therefore, pass that shame onto my daughter. But thanks be to God that we are not parenting perfect human beings and thank God this tiny human does not have a perfect parent.
The problem is that we place unhealthy expectations on ourselves of what a good parent is supposed to look like. Sometimes even being overly concerned about how our parenting looks to others. If we care too much about the opinions of others and how successful we seem as a parent to them, we will be woefully disappointed and use our child as a pawn in our attempts to look good to other people. Sadly, this convinces our child that they’re worth is found in their performance and that they are a disappointment to us because they can’t seem to get their life together.
Truth is, I can’t seem to get my life perfectly together either, so why am I trying so hard to act as though I do? If I want my beautiful girl to grow in grace, integrity, humility, and wisdom, I must be willing to admit that I am bankrupt of all those things if not for the overwhelming grace and mercy of God for a struggling sinner like me.
You see, this is the wonderful truth of the gospel is that Jesus did not come for the healthy, but the sick. Now, by His grace, He takes sick people, who admit their need and makes them well. If I show my daughter that kind of love and offer her grace for when she messes up, not taking it as a personal attack against me and my worth I’ll help her understand that her value isn’t found in how good she makes her mommy look. Her value is simply found in being a child of God. Now, together, we can praise God that He has great mercy and forgiveness for His children who don’t always get it right.
Lord, I want more than anything to be a good momma. I hear that voice of shame trying to convince me I’m not a good one. Father, the truth is, I can’t be a good momma without your grace. I can’t be a good momma without Christ’s wisdom and humility alive and at work in me. Help me God to live in that grace, so that I may share it with my daughter as she grows up in you, in Jesus name, Amen.

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