Parenting Through the Mistakes


This weekend I forgot to give my son a permission slip for an outing his Sunday school class was taking. I was off site speaking to our church’s High School seniors about transitioning to college, so he couldn’t find me to remedy the problem. At virtually the same time my husband realized he had the wrong time for my daughter’s indoor soccer game. They arrived, very frazzled, in time for the second half of the game, and my husband is the coach!

It’s one thing to mess up my own life, but messing up my kid’s life with silly mistakes….whew, that’s different. It’s a stark tangle of shame, regret, and embarrassment. And I don’t know about you, but it is uniquely difficult to sit in my mistakes that impact my kids. Everything in me wants to think and wants them to think that I’m a great mom! My investment is so high that it takes a lot for me to settle down, get grounded, and apologize without excessive explaining or defending myself.

I have learned so much from apologizing to my children. And there are probably no two people, save my husband, to whom I’ve needed to apologize more. They endure the day-in-and-day-out reality of the true, hopelessly flawed me. And when they are able to forgive me, they become the truest window of God’s grace in my life.

One of my mentors taught me that saying “I’m sorry” is essentially saying that you feel bad. It doesn’t communicate the deeper acknowledgement that you have really harmed another person. Saying, “Will you forgive me?” takes the conversation to an interactive level. It is a question that both admits a wrong and asks for a response. On Sunday, I looked my son in his eyes, admitted my wrong, and asked him to forgive me. And guess what he said? “Mommy, I forgive you.” With his eyes full of both love and an aching remnant of disappointment over his missed activity. Receiving his forgiveness was the dearest, most tender part of my weekend. I felt myself settling uncomfortably in that vulnerable layer of love.

What are your memories of your parents asking your forgiveness? How about asking your own kids’ forgiveness? What makes it hard for you to do?


  1. I don’t remember my parents ever asking for my forgiveness. Just yesterday I had to ask my 8 year old daughter to forgive me for my harsh words toward her. I appreciated the fact that she had to think about it for a minute before she forgave me. I think this process is helping her think about what forgiveness actually means, and will hopefully help her navigate future relationships. It certainly allows me to release some anxiety about my continually imperfect parenting.

  2. Recently I have had a bunch of opportunities to ask someone to forgive me. I’m noticing how risky and vulnerable that is for me–especially when I’ve done something that really hurt the other. It seems that it would be safer to say I’m sorry and face myself alone. I’m learning the risk of asking for forgiveness is worth it though. It just may be leading to deeper intimacy and restoration. Thanks for the encouragement to make the “deeper acknowledgement that you have really harmed another person.”

  3. The only times I can remember apologies from my parents is because we had very little and, when some school function or other need for something purchased came up, we didn’t have the money. I always told Mom there was nothing to be sorry for.

    I have no children of my own, but have nephews and nieces that I’ve had to ask for forgiveness. Tough to do, but both parties always feel better.

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