In an earlier post, I shared a principle from Child-Parent Relationship Training (CPRT) that has served as a helpful reminder for the countless times I fail as a parent: “The most important thing may not be what you do, but what you do after what you have done” (Landreth & Bratton, 2006). Admitting my mistakes and seeking to repair the ruptures I create in my relationships with my children not only helps to mend our bond, it often deepens it. I believe that these times of forgiveness and reconciliation reinforce a variety of important lessons for my children.
Although this principle certainly has been helpful to me, there is one that brings me even greater comfort when I consider my failures as a parent: The most important thing may not be what I do, but what God did in light of what I have done. Despite my best efforts to try to parent under my own strength, I fall short. Constantly. I fall short of what God has called me to do and to be as a father. But my failures may not be the most important thing. In Christ, I receive the mercy and grace I so desperately need in light of my ongoing sinfulness and failures. I know (and in time, my children will know if they don’t already) that whenever I fail them that it will only be matter of time before it happens again. And I pray that as I fail and come back to them again and again to seek their forgiveness that they ultimately see the grace that is greater than their father’s sin and put their ultimate hope and trust not in their earthly father but their Heavenly one.