What to Do When Your Parents Fail You
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | July 29, 2018
Many of our readers here at Project Inspired are raised in Christian homes. Many have godly parents who love and support them. But even in a Christian home with Christian parents, you’re still dealing with two sinful people—people who have flaws.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have girls raised by parents who don’t know God, or by one parent who does and one who doesn’t. Others have experienced the pain of parents who, even as professing Christians, make choices that crush their spouse and children.
Our parents—no matter how godly—will fail us. They will say harsh words, make poor choices or neglect our relationship in ways we ourselves do. It’s hard to understand or accept this because we usually hold our parents in high regard! We want to respect and look up to them, and realizing they are flawed people is a difficult mental adjustment.
If you’re navigating a season in which your parents have hurt and failed you, here are three things to remember.
1. Remember the only perfect Father is God Himself.
Expecting our fathers and mothers to be perfect, or to fit an ideal of parenthood, sets us up for disappointment. It also sets us up for conflict in our parental relationship because our parents can never live up to that level of perfection! The only perfect parent is God Himself. He has modeled kindness, love, patience and wisdom—everything we need to make life decisions and remain secure.
The security God offers is there for us even when our parents don’t provide the security or consistency we wish they would. We can show grace to our parents because we depend on Christ, not just on them.
2. You are not destined to repeat your parents’ story.
This is for the girls whose parents were not the example they wish to follow. I get many messages from young women and men affected by their parents’ divorces—particularly those that took place when their children became adults. These young people begin to doubt that marriage is ever worthwhile, or that God’s word is even trustworthy—all because their parents failed to be consistent with the faith they preached.
Whether it’s your parents’ divorce that crushed you or something else one or both of them did, here’s a truth from Scripture for you: You are not your parents. Your own transgressions can be removed as far as east is from the west through the grace of Christ. Your life is in Christ, which means you are not destined to repeat your parents’ poor decisions.
3. You can be an example to parents who never knew God or who have fallen from the faith.
Last but not least, your life can be a light to your parents. Whether it’s a simple mistake for which they apologize or a sin that grieves you and breaks up your family, the life you live in the wake of their failure is a witness for Christ. How you live in front of your parents teaches them about God. You may have spent most of your life learning from them, but as an adult, your parents can learn from you. By following Jesus and listening to His voice, your actions can be a testimony to the people who brought you life.
It’s not easy to choose forgiveness; forgiveness is a daily and even hourly choice. Choose grace because God chose grace for you. Entrust your parents to the Lord. Then live as a light in front of them.