Failing for a Night… and a Daughter's Prayer


Have you ever lost your cool with your kids?

Do you ever yell at your kids? Have you gone to bed wondering if you've ruined your child for life? I've certainly had those moments of doubt as a dad. In fact, after a particularly difficult evening, I wrote the following thoughts and feelings in my journal. I share them in the hopes that you might relate to in some way and find encouragement:

I was tired from the wildness of my day at the office. So, as I retired to my castle, ready for some respite and quiet, I probably had some unreasonable expectations. It was foolish to expect any semblance of quiet when I came home to this beloved bunch of kids. Can they possibly be any more expressive and dramatic—and loud?

Amidst the chaos, and desiring order, I decided to take charge. I set out to be the heavyweight champion of the dad-world, aggressively bringing my kids into compliance. Although my wife was tired, I was going to rise to the challenge!

"I will bring these kids into compliance; I will help them behave like little adults. I will prove the victor in getting some control of our—my house and our—my children."

What foolishness! I did not succeed in helping the kids calm down.  No, I instead lost control and became an ogre (hear me roar!). I became Mr. Bad-Guy. I morphed from "Tired Dad" into "Mr. Don’t-Break-the-Rules-or-Else.” In the process I yelled, I lost my cool, I said foolish things. What a terrible ending to the day.

Now Dena is in bed, the children are drifting off and here am I thinking about what went wrong. The kids and I did "make up," for which I am glad. That happened as we prayed. Those times together of petitioning God often remind of how much I love these kids, and that God is in control—even when Daddy isn't.

Prayer is how I will survive and succeed as a parent. I pray a lot, especially after a tough time like we experienced tonight. And through prayer, God spoke. One of my daughters had treasure of a prayer tonight. She was priceless in asking God to touch some sick relatives, to bring glory to Himself in the midst of the recent tragedies of the world, to help us know Him better. A simply beautiful prayer.  A reminder, perhaps, that we are making some progress, even when external behaviors don’t necessarily look encouraging.

As I think about and process the events and emotions of tonight, I believe I can do better. I'll do better at bringing my expectations and my words and attitudes into line with what God has for me. I can set a better tone. Not on my own, however!

So, Lord, please hear my cry and help me. And thanks, God, for that little girl's wonderful prayer tonight. May You hear her heart's cry for others. Amen.

Written by John Fuller

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