Thursday, November 7, 2013

Near Epic Fail in Parenting 101

Unconditional love is when we love without limitations.  An amazing gift passed down to us from God is unconditional love between a parent and child, and that love is  truly indescribable.

(Photo credit:  Google search)

Recently,  I had the experience of viewing the parent / child dance of unconditional love through the eyes of my daughter.   Through her choking anguished-filled tears I saw a mother I was not proud of.

One of our daughters had worked hard to save money for a video camera, a water-proof video camera, for the cruise we took this past September.  She purchased that camera for $110, with all of her hard earned dog sitting money, and it arrived just prior to our departure.  The other night, my husband and I were both wondering why we had not seen her with it since the cruise.

Well, you know where this is going.  We called her into our bedroom and asked to see the camera.  Her face dropped in a painful instant and she began to sob.  She choked out how "disappointed she was" in herself and that she had "only herself to blame"  for losing her brand new video camera.  When my husband inquired why she hadn't told us, she responded that she was "afraid" of how mad and disappointed we would be in her.

(Photo credit : google search)

A spiritual dagger struck my heart.  I completely comprehended and acknowledged the truth of her fear as it sucked the breath out of me.  I had grown into a mother who would focus on the disappointment in her children more often than their good.  Through my actions, my daughter not only felt sick about losing her beloved camera, but had to hide the fact  from her parents, and deal with the emotional trauma that comes with keeping such a secret.  This had been going on since mid-September.  My poor girl!

I immediately apologized.  Yet, the most important moment came when my husband told her that, "No matter what mistake or terrible choice you make, big or small, in the near future or as an adult, you can always come to us.  We will always love you!"   Ugh.  My husband saw the big picture, grasped onto the moment, and assured her of our love for when those "adult" size mistakes or possibly worse, could happen.  If I have made my daughter afraid to approach me now, it's unthinkable about what could happen in the future.

Failure is not failure if we learn from mistakes.  I tell our children that all the time.  I had lain awake that night beating myself up on the inside for contributing to so much of my daughter's anguish.  Through grace from prayers, I was able to recall myself telling her that "tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start," and went on to apply the same standard to myself.

Instead of looking at myself as an epic failure, I forgave myself.  It is what we do with the new information we have that is important and contributes to the success of "good" parenting.  David and I are focusing on that and plan to touch base with our unconditional love by viewing ourselves through the eyes of our children more frequently.  All through the grace of God, the fountain of all unconditional love, we will make this journey work!

~  Patty  ~


  1. Patty, good for you that it was a learning experience... I would have yelled first and then felt bad after. And why is it always our husbands that tend to see the big picture while moms focus on the details? I suppose that's why there needs to be both of us in the parenting. Sounds like it all worked out... sorry that she lost it though :( after all that hard money saving work...

  2. Ohhhh…my heart is breaking for your daughter…and you…but I'm so glad that you are not beating yourself up over this and learning from this experience. I am the exact same way…and we've already had a few incidents similar…(I found smeared nail polish…someone tried to clean it up themselves for fear of the mommy wrath…OVER NAIL POLISH…what is wrong with me???!!!) I suppose it is as Tara said…we need our husbands to counterbalance ourselves…they see the big picture…but we also know she our kids need to change their underwear… ;)

  3. What a brave and godly woman you are to admit your mistake to everyone. Yes, it is hard to make sure we guide the ones we love so deeply without instilling shame. I think we are all guilty of this from time to time.

  4. Hi Patty! I love that you were able to forgive yourself. I know that sometimes our children love us so much, they never want to disappoint. Those moments can be such a teaching time for both your daughter and you. And I think you both learned something in a big way.

    This reminds me...we had just had a vacation in Colorado. At the airport bathroom, I gave my 13 year old the video camera to hold in there, I must have had other stuff. Well, she left the camera in the stall. Running back within a few minutes of figuring that out, the camera was gone.

    I know she felt so bad...but I felt bad too. I wonder if I was very supportive of her feelings at the time? A learning time for's just stuff. I hope I was a better Mom going forward. Just like you are!

    Have a happy weekend with your precious children :)

  5. What a wonderful learning lesson for all. God just gave you a gift, being that you were able to learn through something little right now in her budding path to adulthood. I love those moments once they pass and I can see the forest through the trees! *wink* If I were there, I would give you a hug for forgiving yourself because I know I stink at that myself! Thank you for sharing and God bless your new day!

  6. This is a lovely post, Patty. I have felt that ache before (too many times) when you just feel like the things you've done have contributed to your kids' pain or stress. But what I love about this post is that you felt it, you pondered it, and you got through it and found the lesson in the end. What I know for sure after all these years of parenting is that they are here to teach us as much as we are here to teach them. Children are the great refiners of character. What an amazing lesson you have taught us all about compassion and unconditional love. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Oh, My heart feels exactly what you felt. I love this post. She learned through this that she can come to you both. It is a learning experience for you both. Beautiful story. So sorry she lost her camera though...

  8. Ugh. I'm sorry for both of you! I can imagine the same scenario with my own kids. They can hear my voice in their head repeating "you never take care of anything!". Thanks for the reminder to think about the big picture and not get so focused on little mistakes. You are a great mom!!


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