3 Ways to Love Our Kids through Their Mistakes


As I sit down to write this, it’s a Saturday morning. I’m on a deadline, so I’ve been pounding out the words on my newest novel all week, saving article writing for weekends. The hubby is off at a side job, and my middle schoolers are home. And, surprise (insert sarcasm here), they are bickering. While I don’t lose my cool, I am frustrated.

We’ve been through this a thousand times. Yes, we’re past the crazy, mischievous preschool days of do-it-yourself beach-pail urinals, but this quibbling is one area I’m not sure we will ever conquer. They know I love them. They know God loves them. Their father and I have impressed upon them the virtues of kindness and humility, love and grace, and still, we have not arrived. Why is progress so stilted and slow? And how can we keep growing—together, as a family—in the face of what often seems like constant failure?

I have to remind myself, today and every day, that this is a journey, one in which we may never glimpse the destination in this lifetime. As I sit down to write this article, and as I exhort my sons once again to love one another, I am reminded of what has made a difference in the past, of ways to love my kids in the face of failure.

~ Be Thankful

What, you may ask, does this have to do with my children’s mistakes? In my experience, everything!

When I fall into bitter thoughts of What did I do to deserve this? that’s when I lose sight of the vast, important big picture. But when I practice gratitude—not only for my children, but for every other tiny blessing I can count—something amazing happens. My perspective changes. I am able to live more fully in the moment, to be thankful even on the hard days, to discipline them without anger, and to love them more fully.

~ Admit Our Own Faults

As we help our children navigate this journey, I think it’s tempting for us to fall into the trap of pretending we know everything. We have more wisdom behind us, after all. More years. But let’s not be so quick to dismiss what often made us wise—our own mistakes!

I’ve been surprised many times how quickly one of my sons’ attitudes has changed when I bared the ugly parts of my own heart in an area they struggle with themselves. When they can see that I sympathize with their plight of trying to make good decisions but often failing, they usually let down their guard and more readily admit their own faults, allowing love in at the same time.

~ Give Them Grace

There are going to be times when we have to allow our kids to mess up. While this is so hard for me, I only do my children a disservice if I attempt to micromanage every aspect of their lives to the point of not allowing for mistakes.

They will mess up, just as I have. My ultimate job is to come alongside them, to point out that we are not so different, that we each possess a deep spiritual poverty within ourselves that only God can meet.

Then we can glimpse the grace He has for all of us and be blessed by it, even in the face of our failures.

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing eleven years ago, just after Jesus grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a 4½-star Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut, and her latest novel, The Hidden Side, is scheduled to release in May 2018. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fourteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her at heidichiavaroli.com.