The moms and dads that I meet carry around a lot of guilt.
I include myself, first and foremost.
I lost my temper.
I let them watch too much TV while I worked.
You don’t even want to know what I fed them for dinner.
I’m not making enough money to send them to college.
I’m not doing as well as I could or should or must…
In my Reformed Christian tradition, we have a practice of confessing and then receiving God’s grace. I think this practice is a great one for parents who carry around a lot of guilty feelings. Some of these guilty feelings are valid and due to true “wrongs” committed against themselves or their children. Others, though, are heaped upon spirits that are striving to attain an unattainable ideal of perfection. This practice addresses both kinds of guilt. Here’s how it works: 1. Say a prayer for forgiveness (I’ve written one for you, but you can write another one that works for you) and then 2. Say (and internalize) the assurance of God’s grace, so that you might begin to feel that you are forgiven, not just of the wrongs you commit as a parent, but of setting a standard that is unrealistic and damaging. 3. Repeat as necessary.
A Prayer of Forgiveness for Guilty Parents
Good and loving God, I come to you feeling guilty. Often I am not the parent I wish to be. I fall short of the ideals and ideas I have for myself. I cut corners, lose patience, lose my way. Forgive me for all the ways I fall short in my relationship with my children, my partner and You. Forgive me, too, O Lord, for the times in which I am unkind to myself, heaping on unrealistic demands of perfection. In all these things, teach me patience, compassion, goodness and kindness. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Assurance of God’s Grace
Parents, hear the good news: God’s grace is from everlasting to everlasting! When we confess our wrongs before God, God hears us, forgives us, and gives us endless opportunities to get back on track, start anew and begin again! You are forgiven! Amen!
Note: This prayer appeared first in the Seamless Faith Newsletter, a monthly resource featuring excerpts from Seamless Faith, links to valuable resources and other info about parenting and faith. The newsletter is free, email addresses are protected and it’s easy to sign up.