Three Ways to Recover From a Parenting FAIL


Almost eleven years ago I lay in the hospital bed and they handed me this little bundle of complete perfection… (I mean once I handed her back to them and ordred them to wipe the slime off of her…then she was perfect.)  I distinctly remember a moment when the nurses left the room, and my husband and I were there together, alone with this fragile, little human.  We both were scared out of our brains.   I was certain it was only a matter of time before they would be onto the fact that we had absolutely no idea what we were doing and would walk back in and take her from us.

But they never did.

We left the hospital, in a haze of bewilderment.  She was ours. Ours to love, protect, and hopefully not screw up beyond repair.  Now, over a decade later, we have not just one, but three of these little people living in our home and entrusted in our care.  I’d love to say that we’ve been the perfect parents.  Guiding and nurturing, training and disciplining with love, and never a cross word.  Of course I can’t say that.   There have been many great moments, there are tons of wins, and we are proud of the children growing in our family- but there are many moments I have failed.

The day I walked out of Albertsons, with my one grocery bag in hand, leaving my two-week old son in the shopping cart inside the store.  The bag boy chased me outside pushing the cart that carried my newborn and caught me just as I got to my car, “Ma’am, you forgot your baby!”

The day I forgot it was “Early Release” – the school called 40 minutes later wondering why my kid was the last one left.

The times I’ve not followed through on a promise.

The moments I’ve lost my cool.

When these parenting FAILS come, our natural mom-guilt goes into overdrive. We replay events in our mind and convince ourselves of the many years of therapy our children will need because of us.  We beat ourselves up, resolve to be perfect from now on, and fear what our mistakes will do to our precious children.

After all, we’re the ones who are supposed to be their greatest protectors, so what do we do when we FAIL them?  

Here are three ways I’ve found to recover from a parenting fail.  

1. Remember your humanity.  You may have magical kisses that heal boo-boos, you may have eyes in the back of your head, you may even be able to make the world’s greatest pb&j sandwhich…but you are only human.  Failure is inevitable.  Extend yourself the grace you so often give to everyone around you.

2.  Say you’re sorry.  When you have disappointed your child, hurt their feelings or just screwed up somehow- own it. Nothing speaks more to your child than honestly admitting your shortcomings and asking them to forgive you.  This allows them to see that you care about them, that you respect them, and you’re truly sorry you have let them down.  I’ve found these types of conversations usually become great learning experiences, and open honest dialogue between me and my children.

3. Move on.  Letting go when we’ve let someone down isn’t easy- especially when it’s your child.  But honestly, once you’ve connected with your child, apologized, and learned your lesson, it’s time to move forward.  As a parent, you set the tone for your home.  Get up, dust yourself off and take a deep breath.  Show them that rather than wallow in your mistakes, you can move forward with renewed strength and a positive attitude.

Our children model what they see in us.  Let us show them humility, strength, and love.  And when we fail? Let’s show them how to recover gracefully use each failure as an opportunity to grow. 




Noelle Larson is a mom still searching to find the “balance” between her spiritual journey, family, ambition, inner peace, world peace…all while trying not to blink so she doesn’t miss one minute of her beautiful, messy life.  Noelle writes at where she journals her crazy days chasing after her kids and husband, deep thoughts, and captures her latest adventures.


  1. Love this Noelle! We try really hard to be diligent about the “I’m sorry’s” and “you’re forgiven” in our house too. If we don’t teach our kids about forgiveness and model it for them, who will??

  2. Great post! It is so important for we parents to model humility and reconciliation before our children. Even as we properly exercise authority over our children, we must remember to treat them with the love and respect we would show to an adult. Motherhood certainly is a sanctifying process!

    • So true! And the times, I’ve sucked it up and been humble in front of my kids, I’ve seen their respect for me grow exponentially. Such a learning experience!

  3. My dear daughter this is great advice from someone I have seen put these things into practice. They truly work because being humble is something we all need to learn no matter how old our kids are. I love and admire and respect you.

  4. So so true and important. Thank you! It helps to have close mom-friends with whom you can share these fails – either to laugh, cry or commiserate. My best friend from growing up and I had our first babies 9 days apart, and we have a shared understanding of that failure-feeling moment – we call it “remember the time I kicked the dog?” (from something she really did and we can all relate to – being so overwhelmed and frustrated that you lose your cool with the person (animal?) who deserves it the least. It’s great to have friends you can text when you “kick the dog”, and I think it helps with the “move on” advice you give as #3. Thanks, Noelle. 🙂

    • Kick the dog! That is awesome. My husband and I often say, “Remember when I wanted to throw Angelina in the snow?!” It’s true, so great to have people who can share these moments of weakness with.


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