Parenting Guilt, God’s Grace: March 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

February 19, 2024 Emily Hatesohl

It was a month or so after our second child was born, and my almost two-year-old decided he wanted to join the rest of the family and stop sleeping too. Fighting bedtime, skipping his nap, waking up at night, you name it. We were all feeling cranky and out of sorts.

One Wednesday afternoon, I left him in his crib at naptime to try to go feed the baby, but he started screaming so loudly that our newborn couldn’t eat, and my mind was spiraling. I put the baby in his swing, picked up my toddler, and tried to calm him down. He pulled my hair and screamed hot and red in my face. And then I lost it.

I flicked on the lights, grabbed him by his little shoulders, and shouted right in his face, “Stop screaming!! Stop pulling my hair! Just stop, STOP, STOOOOOOOOPPP!”

There was a beat of stunned silence, then all three of us burst into tears.

The Guilt

I share this very personal story for one reason only. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’m the only Christian parent who has ever lost his or her temper and experienced that haunting feeling that keeps us up at night: parenting guilt.

“What is wrong with me? That is not how I wanted to handle the situation. I’m failing. I’m a bad mom.”

When you have those thoughts after a bad day of parenting, there are a lot of things you could reach for. The internet will give you thousands of articles on how to deal with toddler meltdowns and a free thirty-day calendar that promises to make you a gentler parent. Friends and family may offer well-meaning platitudes of “It’s okay. It happens to all of us!” or “You’ve got this, mama.” They may tell you to practice more self-care: go for a walk, take a long bath, focus on you for a change.

While parenting advice, taking breaks, and heartfelt encouragement can sometimes be great blessings, they can’t take away my sin. They can’t take away my guilt. They only distract from it for a little while and push me to try harder next time. They don’t change the fact that I provoked my child to anger (see Ephesians 6:4). I did not show patience, gentleness, or self-control (see Galatians 5:22–23). I feel guilty because I am guilty.

The Gospel

So what do we do when we lose our patience with our kids and feel the full weight of parenting guilt on our shoulders? We turn to the only one who can truly take away all our sin and shame—Jesus.

You see, we don’t really need some Instagram influencer’s top ten tips to relieve mom guilt. We don’t really need a mindfulness app or a solo trip to the grocery store. (Although I do love that feeling. Ahh.) What we need most as sinful moms and dads is Jesus and His promises to us.

When we fall at the foot of the cross, burdened by all the ways we feel we have failed as parents, Jesus lifts us up with His promise that our sins are forgiven. He has removed that parenting guilt “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). He redeems us and calls us His beloved sons and daughters. And He in turn gives us His Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our daily walk of raising these beautiful and challenging children.

That pure, life-giving grace can now overflow into our homes. We can apologize to our children when we lose our patience with them, and we can teach them also to turn to Jesus in all the daily messes of life.

Grace in Our Homes

Fast-forward a few months later. We were still sleep-deprived but had started to find our footing as a family of four. Our toddler was having a meltdown again, and I felt myself starting to melt down as well. I handed the baby to my husband, scooped up our writhing two-year-old, and headed to the basement to try to snap him out of his mood with a change of scenery.

We sat on the carpet, and I breathed out a tiny prayer, “God, I’m so frustrated!” Then the sweetest little words came out of my son’s mouth: “Mmmm-en!” (Or amen, in toddler speech.) He sat on my lap and folded his hands. I blinked back tears at his childlike faith. “Yes, baby, let’s pray! That’s right. We should pray together!” So we prayed for forgiveness and peace in the midst of our meltdowns, and God turned our day around.

God’s grace beats parenting guilt. Every time.

Scripture: ESV®.

Download the Everyday Faith Calendar, where we focus on what God’s Word says about confession and forgiveness as we finish the Lenten season. You will find short Bible readings and prayer prompts for each day.

Download Calendar


Previous Article
Ordinary Callings: April 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar
Ordinary Callings: April 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

In college, I attended a Bible study hosted at a pastor’s home. One week, he said our homework was...

Next Article
Patterns: February 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar
Patterns: February 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

I’ve never been a person who really relied on or noticed patterns in my life. I never struggled wit...