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Life will not give me a do-over, but I can share with you about my parenting failures in the hopes that you may not make the same mistakes that I made.
You may not think very highly of me after reading this blog, but I’m willing to take the risk. It’s hard to talk about failure, but it might help someone and it’s therapeutic for me. Bottom line, even if it doesn’t help you, it will help me.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”  Mark Twain

People refer to this quote by Mark Twain when they are talking about how kids begin to appreciate their parents after they become adults, but I want to look at this quote from the other side.

As I write this blog my kids are 26 and 24-years old. Granted my kids learned a lot as they launched out on their own, but my wisdom also increased in the years that my kids went from being teenagers to being adults. Mostly I learned what not to do. I did many things right and I made a lot of mistakes, but I’m a better person and a better parent because of failing forward.

Sometimes I wish I could have a do-over, and then I re-think that thought. I do not want to go through that again. I love my children, but helping your child become an adult can be painful.

Life will not give me a do-over, but I can share with you about my parenting failures in the hopes that you may not make the same mistakes that I made.

If I did get a chance to do a do-over these are the top five things I would do differently.

1.      I would let my kids say “No” to me, sometimes.

I know that the Bible says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord,” but that doesn’t mean that I am always right. Sometimes I make stupid decisions.

Why is it important that my kids learn to say no? The most basic boundary word is the word no. If we teach our kids to always say yes, then they don’t know how to say no. They will say yes to the good and the bad, and that is not good.

2.     I would focus less on obedience and more on teaching my kids to think for themselves.

For years I thought I was a good parent because my kids obeyed me, but obedience is just first base. The home run is to get our kids to think for themselves and make wise decisions.

3.    I would kiss dating hello.

In the nineties I read a book called “I Kissed Dating Good-By”.

I loved the book when I first read it. I talked with my kids about courting instead of dating. They thought it was great, too. Of course, they were only eight and ten at the time. When they became teenagers their thoughts changed.

The concept of courtship is to include your parents in your dating life. The idea is to get good communication going between the teenager and his or her parents, but that is not what happened in our family.

My son’s first girlfriend was a poor choice, but by the time we found out it was too late. They were already emotionally involved. He didn’t feel like he was allowed to date so he hid it from us. Instead of encouraging communication with our son, the concept of courtship hindered it.

Courtship sounds great to a parent. “I get to decide who you date.” The reason this feels so good to a parent is that we are afraid to trust our kids to make wise choices in this area.

Deb did a better job with our daughter. When Missy was a teenager she would talk to her Mom about the boys she liked. Mom would say things like “Oh, I think he is cute, too.” Mom became her best friend. The goal is keep the communication lines open!

4.    I would control my temper.

Every one of us deals with anger, but we process it differently. Your anger tells you when someone has crossed your boundaries.

Anger is a normal part of life, but it’s wrong to say words in anger to punish someone. When my kids were teenagers I am ashamed to admit that I did this with some frequency. It wasn’t until my son had left home that I learned how to bite my tongue and control my temper.

Here is a scripture that helped me.

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Proverbs 12:16

5.    I would let my kids watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I’m not sure why, but we didn’t let our kids watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They still complain about it today claiming we “scarred them for life.” I grew up with Spiderman and Batman, so I was comfortable with the Super Heroes from the Sixties but I didn’t like those new Turtle super heroes.

I think sometimes when a new fad comes out, we think it must be wrong because it is so popular. The truth is that I was too lazy to watch the show and make an educated decision.

There you have it, my top five parenting failures. You may be wondering how did my kids turn out?

They both love God and are serving in ministry.

Missy is married to Lance McKinnon. (I call him Sir Lancelot.) They are serving as Junior High and Kidmin Pastors at Life Church in Bartlesville, OK.

My son, Mark is married to a good Mississippi girl, named Katie. They have one son, James who is full of joy. Mark recently returned from serving our country in Iraq. He is currently helping me plant Family Church in Hopkins, MN.

How did that happen when I made so many mistakes?

There is this thing called forgiveness that helps us with our relationships. Not only does God forgive us, but He also gives us the power to forgive one another.

The good news of this article is that there is hope for you and your kids.

Now it is your turn. What are some of your parenting failures?

Copyright ©  Mark Harper Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Mark Harper
Web site: Mark Harper Ministries
Pastor and Leadership Coach, Mark Harper has 35 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church 2.0 Curriculum, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. The focus of Mark's ministry is helping leaders build strong churches and helping parents build strong families. Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team. He also recently released the Amazon Best Selling book The Red Book: The Lifeblood of Children's Ministry.

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