What If I’ve Done it All Wrong?


Every parent of a child from a “hard place” believes they have done it all wrong. The good news is God offers forgiveness to you and you can ask for forgiveness from your child.

I would venture to guess that nearly every parent of a child from a “hard place” believes they have done it all wrong. As the recent Empowered to Connect Conference came to a close, a dear friend shared that she and her husband were both hopeful and disheartened by what they had learned. They held back tears of sorrow and regret as they wished they could go back and parent their children differently. Russ and I have also wrestled with these thoughts and are saddened by the knowledge that some of our efforts likely increased our children’s trauma rather than brought healing.

Perhaps life in your home became a war zone and you found help by searching for information on parenting children with RAD. You read books on how to take control away from your child in order to change his behavior. Or perhaps you allowed raging to go unchecked hoping that if he could just “get it out” he would finally act like a normal kid. Maybe you tried all kinds of consequences but still, she wouldn’t stop hoarding food or he wouldn’t stop peeing on the walls of his bedroom.

Then you, like us, were introduced to ways of parenting these children from a place of knowledge and compassion. And you may have been hit squarely in the face with the reality that your child came to you wounded and the reminder that Jesus wants you to look at her with tenderness and love. He has led you to consider a new way of parenting based on trust and an understanding of how your child was harmed by her early beginnings.

But you are paralyzed because the hands that God gave you to love your child have not always been loving. The voice that should have spoken tender words has often been harsh. The eyes that were meant to look lovingly upon your child have turned away in frustration. Over time your heart has grown hard and perhaps you have even begun to see your child as the enemy—somebody you must tolerate, but may never love.

I want you to know something that I have found to be true. 

There is mercy—mercy that comes from a loving Father, a Father whose mercies are new every morning. There is forgiveness—an unlimited well of forgiveness. We need only ask.  With God we get the ultimate “Do-over.” Who could ask for more?  He is not surprised by our children’s behavior, or by ours. He knows we are all broken by the sin and suffering of this world. Let yourself be forgiven. Seek it on your knees, write it down and burn it, confess your failure to somebody who loves you—do whatever you must in order to begin anew.

Then move forward in the knowledge that you now understand your child better than ever before, and you have insights and tools to help him. Keep learning these principles and keep practicing these strategies. Russ and I have watched Karyn Purvis’ videos on the Empowered to Connect website over and over again because we need this information drilled into our brains. We are in a desperate fight for our children’s healing and the restoration of our family. I am so happy to tell you that there is progress and we are filled with hope.

There is more to it though, isn’t there? What about our child and the pain we have caused him, or at the very least, the healing we have not provided? Depending upon your family situation, you may need to go to your child and seek his forgiveness too. You may need to hold her close and say, “Sweetheart, Mommy and I have tried hard to be good parents to you, but we have made lots of mistakes. We haven’t loved you the way we should have, but now we’re learning a new way of being a Daddy and Mommy to you.  We’re learning how to help the hurts in your heart heal. You are precious and a sweet gift from God. Please forgive us. We are working hard on learning a better way to be a family.”

She may or may not understand.  She may turn her back to you, or even pull away, but she will have heard your voice and a new foundation will be laid. 

Today can be the beginning of a new journey for you and your family – a journey toward parenting based on trust and connection.  This new journey will bring about healing for your children and for you, and your family will never be the same. 

Written by: Lisa Qualls

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