Why Do I Feel That It’s My Fault When My Child Messes Up?

Welcome to week 2 of the 4-week series I’m doing to answer the question many of us moms have… Lord, am I messing up my kids? (Click here if you missed last week’s post.)

Have you ever struggled with letting a circumstance that came your way suddenly define you? This seems to be a lesson God lets me live over and over. He wants to be my only definition of who I am.

I am a child of God, holy and dearly loved. I know this. I teach this.

I believe this in the very depths of my soul. Yet it is so easy for me to slip into redefining myself when situations arise.

Several years ago, one of my precious-precious-precious-yet-just-as-apt-to-sin-as-the-rest-of-us kids was called to the principal’s office—on the very day I received an invitation to speak at a national parenting conference, thank you very much.

With my head I was able to see the situation for what it was. “My child is in the process of being shaped. My child is strong, and while this will serve her well later in life, strength in an immature little person begs to be disciplined. She is a sweet child who made a not-so-sweet choice.”

However, with my heart I felt like a failure. I wanted to decline the opportunity to speak at that conference and go crawl in a hole somewhere. A part of me felt as though I’d been called to the principal’s office as the voice of condemnation started haunting me, “You are a bad mom. You have a bad child. You have a bad home.”

So, quietly, I slipped away with Jesus. And I did what I’ve done a hundred times before. I held those condemnations up to the Lord and asked Him to help me see this situation the way He wants me to see it. Not the way others see it, not the way my heart is tempted to see it, but the way He sees it.

Matthew 7:24-27 says:
Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Do you know what amazes me about those verses? Both the person doing right and the person doing wrong experienced hard times. In both cases the rains came, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against the house.

Just because we’re parents living out God’s principles for life does not mean we won’t face difficult circumstances.

God’s Spirit spoke to my heart that day and said, “Let Me invade your natural flesh reaction. Instead of letting your mind run wild with this, sit with Me for a while. Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

So I sat and I prayed. I went from defining myself as a failure of a mom to being a praying mom who can face a hardship in a godly way. The frustration was diffused as I determined to look at this from God’s perspective.

Once again, God reassured me. I am not a bad mom. My child is not a bad child. My home is not a bad home. This situation is a call to action. There is a character issue that needs to be addressed within the heart of my child. And kids are supposed to have character issues that need to be addressed. That’s why God gave them parents. That’s why God gave me this specific child. God sees within me the ability to be the one He’s perfectly designed to raise up this child.

When hard times come and beat against our stability, we must be determined to hear God’s words and put them into practice. Then nothing can topple our peace, security, or true identity.

I’m not sure who else needed to hear that—but I know I certainly did. So dry your tears, sweet mama. Today is a new day. A day when we will only be defined by God’s truth and grace as we navigate this wild wonder called parenthood.

We all need to extend grace to ourselves and enjoy slow moments to recharge our hearts. Today, I’m giving away 3 treat bundles that include a Starbucks gift card, a candle, and a copy of my book Am I Messing Up My Kids? to help you do just that.


To be entered to win, leave a comment below telling me what verses you rely on when handling a hard situation with your child. {All winners will be notified via e-mail.}


  1. says

    My son got in trouble yesterday at school. He struggled last year but is doing better this year, although the last couple of weeks he has gotten into trouble with teachers and principal. This is so hard on me. I was feeling good about this year but then the enemy came in and has played havoc on me with this. I am single parent so I feel like I’m all alone sometimes in this and no one understands. I know when I came across this this morning it was meant for me. I was actually looking for Made to Crave support. I have had a habit of falling into the bait of satan and feeling like I’m a bad mom, my child is bad, my home is bad..but you are right it is not bad. I so needed to hear “my child is in the process of being shaped. my child is strong, and while this will serve her well later in life, strength in an immature little person begs to be disciplined…..”
    I try to constantly speak over my child everyones favorite Jeremiah 29:11…for I know the plans i have for you they are plans for prosperity not for calamity Nathan, Nathan is my son. I also hear continuously “Be still and know I am God” for he comes before us and he wants us to press into him.
    Thank you for your encouragement and support.
    May you be blessed Lysa Terkeurst.

    • says

      Nathan means “prophet”. speak into his destiny and purpose you feel is his calling, and get ready for the ride. Those kids who have Great destiny’s have not so great childhoods meaning they go through more hell than normal b/c their destiny is so big that their annointing has to be as big also. Annointing comes from and through struggle. When my son was a lil guy, sometimes I did not think I was going to make it. He’s now 18 and in college and doing well. I asked god to show me specific scriptures that were special for my each of my sons and I prayed those over them. Enjoy the ride, it doesn’t last as long as you think, then they are all grown up.

      • Lydia says

        Jennifer- your words were equally as inspiring to me as Lisa’s. You have a gift. Thank you for your wisdom and insight on struggles. We all know that is God’s truth spoken through you. God bless you.

  2. DeAnn Huxman says

    Ephesians 6:19.
    Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

  3. Rhonda Grady says

    God is so good!!! I often wonder(which consist of racing thoughts) if i have messed up my kids…2 girls 19 & 14. My 14 year old is currently going thru some hard times and I often want to blame myself. I saw u in Dallas in September and purchased Unglued….because I had a tendency to come unglued very frequently before I became a Christian woman in the past year. As a result of frequently coming Unglued in circumstances that I did not believe were going the way I thought they should, my daughters have those same tendencies to come Unglued!! But I am confident if I “be still” and turn to God and continue down my path with God, my girls will be witness to a mom who does not come Unglued in challenging circumstances. Sorry for the long comment but this blog was perfect timing for me….Thank You!

  4. says

    I try to remind myself what does God really think of me. What is the truth with these thoughts whirling around in my head. I guess I focus on the first part of Philippians 4:8.

  5. Leigh Starr says

    Whenever my kids mess up I want to take it personal. I always feel it is a reflection of me. Or I want to blame my husband for not being more vocal or having more input. I pray for my children and my parenting skills. My children are all so different. How can they be so different. Some making goods choices and some not. They were all raised the same..

  6. Dawn Harris says

    I have a lot of issues with my oldest son in which I tend to blame myself for his faults. I feel I must have done something wrong for him to act this way. He has treated me like he doesn’t even love me at times. However I am working through this to realize I am doing the best I can and he makes choices on his own that he will have to live up to.

  7. Brandi Clifford says

    GOD has spoken to me today through you, I so needed to read that. Last night I had an issue with my son, he had to be at Boy Scouts and we couldn’t find his neckerchief and slide. My husband and I were running around crazily looking for it and my son wasn’t, when my husband asked him why he wasn’t helping if he even wanted to go to the meeting he just shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t care. I felt an immediate pang in my heart, I felt like a complete failure as a parent since he didn’t have any desire to care about something he has been working hard at over the last two years. Thank you for reminding me…

  8. says

    When I feel like a failure as a parent, I always go back to God’s promises.
    Proverbs 22:6-” Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
    God NEVER goes against His word. And knowing that is a comfort!!!!!!

  9. Kylie says

    Your post is such a gift from God. These words are exactly what I have been needing to hear. I am thankful today for your gift of communication and the technology to reach all of us mammas who need to hear His truth and grace.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving and know that you are a blessing to all of us!

  10. Dawn B says

    While I was writing, I lost my thoughts to an early publishing before I finished … get behind me satan in the name of Jesus!

    My beautiful 16 year-old daughter gave her life to Jesus a few years ago, and praise God this past Easter she was baptized! 😀

    Today, I inadvertently found out that she & her boyfriend of only 8 months decided to cross that ultimate line, & she gave away a part of herself that can never be gotten back. She is remorseful, & promises to wait until marriage now. I told her I love her & that I believe in her, & that no matter what a parent teaches a child, that child will make decisions that the parent will not agree with. You see, I do not want my children to make the same regrettable decisions I made growing up. I will continue to ask God for His wisdom & guidance, & ask for Him to help me to be the wife, mother, & daughter He has created me to be.

    So, the song the Lord has put in my heart is by Casting Crowns…”Jesus can u show me just how far the East is from the west, because I can’t bear to see the man I was rising up in me again …in the arms oftoyuroof mercy I find rest…`cause u know just how far the east is from ethw est, from one scared hand to the other…”

    i belive we all will fall short of the glory of God, therefore we need to seek His face daily, take up our cross and ask for his mercy and grace. Thank u Jesus e t lphe me to be the wife, mother, & daughter He has led me to be.

    So, the song the Lord has put in my heart is by Casting Crowns…”Jesus can u show me just how far the East is from the west, because I can’t bear to see the man I was rising up in me again

  11. says

    Can someone help I heard this after where Lysa was say she gave her son for graduation Bible verses. Can anyone PLEASE!! quote some of them!! Thank you!

  12. Sarah says

    I have 3 sons, My middle child brings me the most joy and the most rage at the same time. He can be so loving one minute and then so stubborn and strong willed the next. Sometimes I lose my temper and my patientce and then I am filled with shame that I failed again. I ask forgiveness everday. Love is Patient. Love is Kind. These are virtues that I am struggleing to grasp ahold of. I love John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble but take heart i have overcome the world. I face struggles everyday and I just need to put my trust in jesus and it will be ok. It is nice to know that I am not the only one who feels like i am failing sometimes.

  13. Kelly says

    Just call upon Jesus–no verse, sometimes just calling his name is peace enough–he knows my heart and what i’m going thru.

  14. APRILMAE says

    Isaiah 40:31 “but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. ”
    My strength is only renewed by my Lord. Sometimes I run, run, run and by grace He renews me before the fainting.
    I am the mom that my child ( college freshman) tells me recently… mom I don’t want you to be my caregiver… I want you to be my best friend. I have seen moms and daughters that are at the “friend stage”… HMMMM don’t think this was what she was meaning.
    This same child has been making choices that I don’t agree with, I have such a hard time letting go and to simply not add my two cents worth.

  15. Rhonda Bourland says

    Mine is not a verse but a song, Amazing Grace. When my baby was born,17 years ago, it was the only way to calm her down. Now when she starts acting up, I sing it to calm me down…… it makes her mad.

  16. says

    Lysa, I am a grandmother of 24, great grandmother of 8, and I wanted to enter this for my Daughter who has 3 children, She is a good mom but like everyone else she has the
    same issues that we as grandmothers had, Her 1st. daughter is 13, and the 2nd. daughter is 9, and she has a son that is 6. While watching her as she and her husband parent their children I can see that some of the things that happen are so much like what I faced with my 6 children. They are believers and they attend Church but like most of us we get deterred with the everyday struggles. I would like to be able to give her the book as a gift. I have read several of your News letters on here and I feel that this would surely be a help for her. I praise God for her and so thankful to him for giving her to me. She is my youngest daughter. I am a very proud mom and love them all with all my heart. I also love being a grandmother. What a true blessing it is.

  17. Janay Arenas says

    In truth I don’t have any verses. Now I’m encouraged to find some to help me through those rough times. All I know to do is to pray and ask God to guide me through.

  18. Eternity7 says

    Wow, I don’t have any off the top of my head, but I see the need immediately. As a mom raising three kids, two of them teens, I see myself exactly in the position you were in. At least, feel like that’s what my situation will come to. I know now that I should be prepared ahead of time to handle this the way God would want me to. Thank you so much for your insight! Would LOVE the book and starbucks too!!! Thanks so much for your honesty! It helps!

  19. Marion says

    Romans 8:28 has been a life verse for me. I have also been blessed with a Bible kit that I just finished that color codes and high lights key verses to help me speak truth into my children’s hearts. It is such a blessing. My children seem to respond better when they see it in God’s word and not me just flapping my lips. I look forward to reading your book. I believe that the enemy does want us moms to feel like we are alone and that no other mom has ever had to deal with what we are dealing with. I used to live under that lie…that my children were bad and it was all my fault. Then joined a ladies group and met other moms and learned that nobody has perfect kids. I was NOT alone.
    I am a part of your Made to Crave online Bible study too. Lysa you are such a blessing. God has dropped you right into my lap (Laptop) for such a time as this. THANK YOU for allowing God to use you.

  20. Audra says

    Amazing, just amazing how God sends me things that apply to my life in the here and now. It has happened numerous, uncountable times. Praise God that we serve a God who loves us and cares about the little things. A favorite verse, “Train up a child in the way that he should go and he will not depart from it”. A promise I rely on.

  21. Ivonne Layuno says

    Just the other week my 16 year old son hit me in the face and it wasn’t by accident folks. I have felt such sadness in my heart and have kept asking God why? Anyway, reading this today has given me such clarity. I appreciate your blogs Lisa may God continue to bless you always. Verse that helps me is Psalm 46:10

  22. Lannette Baptiste says

    I am really trying to grasp this and hold it in my heart. My son has Asperger’s. Getting into trouble is a daily occurrence. I hear it from the school, the bus driver, the sitter, and any body else that comes in contact with him. It is easy for me to feel like I “messed him up” or that it is my fault he acts the way he does. It feels like all of society blames me too. It is really hard but I keep repeating to myself “What does God say about him?” I keep referring to Daniel where it says he will stand in the presence of kings and teach in the palace ( I can’t remember through my tears). I love my child and I recite Jeremiah 29:11 over him when he is asleep. I ask God to make me the mother that he needs and to help me make wise choices. I know God has given me this child for a specific purpose. I don’t want to mess up. Thank you for this posting.
    I know this is past the contest deadline, I just needed to be heard.
    Thanks again.