Confessions of a Lousy Father


I got a called from Gwen this afternoon. We had our first teenage car accident. Our 15-year-old son had just backed up his mom’s Infinity SUV into a neighbor’s mailbox crushing the truck’s bumper and destroying the mailbox on his first attempt at driving after getting his permit on Friday. “We just spent two thousand dollars on body work this summer! How are we going to make him pay for the damages? ” were the first words out of my mouth. I was furious and my main concern was with the cost of fixing the car and the mailbox. It wasn’t until later, much later, that I thought about my son, his feelings and the trauma he might be facing. Now as I reflect on today’s event, I so wish I had reacted differently.

Even after all the years of reading the Bible, listening to numerous messages, reflecting, praying and “growing” as a person, I still find myself reacting in ways that I hoped I would not. Today is an example of the less-than-altruistic person who shows up from time to time in my life. I know him well. He’s selfish, judgmental, and unforgiving; the antitheses of the Jesus whom I’ve pledge to emulate. As I drove home tonight, I kept thinking about my upcoming conversation with Marcus. What can I teach him? How can this be a teachable moment for him?

But I realized that I needed this teachable moment more than he did. It will be a while before the boy’s nerves will allow him toΒ  drive again, and he’s upset enough to the point he doesn’t need a lecture on his driving skills. I, however, had to face my own inner demons and come to grips with the fact when I had a chance to be the person I wish I were, I failed. Instead of being a gracious and loving dad, I reacted like a lousy and selfish father.

Why share this weakness publicly on my blog? I’m not sure I should, but if by exposing the side of me I’m not proud of, will hold me accountable to change it, than maybe it’s worth the embarrassment. For me it’s more important to be authentic than to create an image of authenticity.

Thank you for letting me indulge in this post.

Those of you who are parents, have you ever feel like a parenting failure? If so, where have you found help?

  • Oh Maurilio, the response doesn't make you a lousy father…just a father. I am QUITE sure that would have been my first response as well. So, the question is…where do I find help? Other fathers. Recently, I went to BCE2010 ( and attended a parenting class hosted by a set of parents, the Harkavy's, who were fantastic. It wasn't a lesson on how to be a better parent, but a discussion on some of the mistakes they had made and other parents nodding, covering their faces, sheepishly raising their hands to admit guilt, etc.! But, I pulled a couple action plans away that have already worked wonders. I have 14 and 11-year old sons. I look forward to learning from you, too!! Thanks for sharing you GREAT father!!

    • Thanks for the insight, John. I'll check Building Champions soon.

  • I'm glad you just gave the gift of going first by sharing and opening a door for many others to share as well, or at least know they are not alone. I think a big lesson in this as well is that you had the self awareness to realize and the character to admit. Sometimes we can be so stubborn and prideful than even when we do realize we've reacted wrong, we don't do a good enough job letting others know. Accountability and authenticity bring freedom.

    Well done. This most makes me respect you even more.

    • Daniel, It's hard for me to admit I'm wrong since it happens so, so rarely. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment.

  • Do I feel like a parenting failure? Um, yes, just about every. single. day.

    Thank you for your transparency and honesty; it's an encouragement to those of us who are a few steps behind you on this parenting road.

    I love this idea that one of my friends talks about all the time: God will rear my children IN SPITE of me. He will redeem both my best efforts and my colossal failures. Praise God my kids are HIS and he perfectly loves them more than I do.

    • Thankful for God's blessing in spite of me. That's the only way those boys are going to turn out well.

  • Dan Reeves

    On more than one occasion (drastic understatement), I have crushed the spirit of my 8 year-old son. He is a strong-willed boy with a heart as soft as the rest of ours. Yet, I get frustrated and scold him for not doing the things I've told him to do…..the things I've told him to do. Yes, he needs to be obedient. But, my frustration certainly is not the best motivator. Now, as you mentioned, the sermons, passages, and "maturing", despite these,I continue as well to fail at modeling our Christ.

    My point in sharing this is, well, you aren't alone. But, also, I wish to encourage you to press on because you will teach him by your response to your failure. You will show him how to be a man of God who fails and repents and is restored. And, you will model that by asking for help, in terms of accountability, you seek to continually grow more like Jesus. And, by the way, seeking Godly men to speak into your life is a great place to start looking for help in overcoming the sinful nature. Strong work!

    Thanks for encouraging me to do the same. Sorry that this happened. Take care of your boy!

  • Good post…not a lousy father, just human. As parents we just need grace, grace, grace to get through everyday. Sometimes the best things to come out of situations like this is for us to admit that we're not perfect. Our kids can see that we make mistakes and still need to turn to God for forgiveness and grace to go on. That in itself can be an example they need.

    And on the flip side-it doesn't seem like that long ago…I remember backing Troy's van, into his new garage…oy, total humiliating experience no matter who you are.

    • Oh, Troy's Van, or a Zacky called it "Vanny." So you're the one. πŸ™‚

      • Yep, good old "Vanny"…backed it right into their new house on moving day. Thank the Lord there were other people around, fear of public humiliation saved me from the wrath. πŸ™‚

  • Maurilio,

    Thanks for being Everyman today on your blog.

    Dads need lots of grace, too.

  • Mark McPeak

    I have a few moments and reactions like the one you have confessed that will haunt me forever. I can't believe how stupid and selfish I have been so many times in my parenting. I remember sitting down with my youngest and trying to tell him how sorry I was for a stupid overreaction that (no doubt) has damaged him for life – because of the public nature of it.
    Thanks for being this transparent. It is really hard to live life. It is so much harder to be responsible for another human being who is trying to learn to live life. I wonder frequently how badly I have damaged my kids. It's very humbling to think about!

    • Well, Mark if you can over react, than I'm already feeling better about myself. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for commenting.

  • Good post Mau. My own son has finished college, gotten married and moved to another state. Even now, reading your blog, I think back to all of the times I wish I had a first response "do over" with him. The great thing about love and grace is that I may not get a "do over" but I can get a "do better"…the chance to look my child in the eye and say "I'm sorry, I love you and someday this moment will be something we look back on and remember how we come together and dealt with it in love." Aaron and I actually sit and tell stories about his teenageness and laugh about them.

    • I'm looking forward to the day they boys and I will sit together and laugh about their teenage years. Now there's mostly gnashing of teeth and whining .

  • I have three boys, two teens, one tween. I have agonized over the times I have "scarred them for life." But lately, God has been showing me that he redeems everything, even my public humiliations of reprimanding them. He will heal my boys scars and he still gives back the times the locust ate. I now see situations as opportunities to grow in Christ, right in front of the boys and I take every chance I can to apologize and show them where I was wrong. Thanks for your honestly, this is what the world needs more of.

    • Three boys. I know that's a hand full. It's hard for me to admit my failures in front of those guys, but I know it's crucial for them to learn how to assume responsibility for their actions. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • I tend to be neither charismatic nor particularly visionary. But as I read this post and the followup comments, I imagine (or foresee?) that your sons will one day be better fathers than they would be otherwise because they'll turn to your public statements about the importance of fatherhood.

    Well done. Thank you for setting a benchmark for transparency. I'm working on it.

    • I hope your words are prophetic and my boys turn out better fathers than me. Amen!

  • Donna Taylor

    When my kids were 10 and 11 a man was sitting at my table discussing money and investments. Somewhere in that conversation he got off track and told me about the 'phone call' he received from his 17 year old daughter saying she was pregnant. The words he said stuck in my head "I knew that the next words out of my mouth she would remember for the rest of her life". There was no reason for that to be so profound in my mind for 8 years. Three years ago my 18 year old daughter called me. Those words resounded in my mind and with caution I proceeded to tell her that we would get through this. I have a beautiful 2 year old grandson that would not be here if I had tried to tell her all about what she had done wrong and how she could do better. The world made her choices way too easy.

    I know God is Incredible at giving us what we need even we don't know we need it. Our family has grown close instead of separated. God is Faithful to turn bad for good if we give it to Him. He loves our kids more than we do! God bless you for sharing your 'blunder' – someone will learn a valuable life changing truth from it.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Donna. Yes, you're right, God is in the business of redeeming our blunders for His glory.

  • Ed Priest


    I am 57 now with 4 grandkids. What you have done, I have done many times and felt the same way.

    What has help me the most is when I apologies to my kids for my bad parenting skills and ask them for forgiveness. Then work with them as a team to resolve the problem.

    Love reading your blogs,

  • traci

    Considering just 24 hours ago, I was tersely telling my son "GO GET THE BALL!! Stop running around pretending to be a car!" while at soccer practice and then seeing his face fall as he listened to me… gee, I don't know what it means to be a failure as a parent. πŸ˜‰

    I still beat myself up over events that happened years ago with him, but knowing that other parents feel the same things or snap and immediately feel bad helps me to know I am not evil Mommy. I am human. I am learning every day what tone of voice I cannot use with him and what words I cannot say. I know I will mess up more, but I know I am learning. The fact that he still wants to curl up in my lap and says "I love you, Mama," also helps.

    I get the same ugly feeling in my stomach every time I know I just failed God. Luckily, He loves me even more than my baby boy!

    • Hold on to those sweet moments with your little guy. They grow and that sweetest goes away. Gwen and I believe that God gives us the teenage years so that when they're ready for college, we're ready to let them go.

  • swmackey

    You know what? No one gets it right every time. By reflecting on your motives, acknowledging it and committing to continue to work on your relationship with you son, this can become a bonding moment. Man to young-man. Let him see you're vulnerable and how to admit a mistake.
    I appreciate you posting this. My blog is dedicated to living my life manifesto and helping others learn from my mistakes and wins. We need to hear both from you too. Hang in there man. Raising kids is the hardest project you'll ever undertake and there are no do-overs, but you can always course correct!
    Cheers – Steve

  • Brenda Williams

    I could go on and on about my huge mistakes with our son; everyone who commented before me said it better than I could. So now I would love to know how you handled it, what you wound up saying to Marcus when you finally got home?

  • elizajanehuie

    Grace– how discouraging life would be without it! You you both needed. Thanks for sharing your struggle that is common to so many of us.

  • Ken Sien

    Count your blessings for your awareness in this situation. Just think of how many parents react that way and never apologize to their children because of ignorance or pride. This is a great opportunity to show your son how to be humble and ask for forgiveness. We need more of this in the world.

  • Shari

    Praise the Lord for grace for all of us – we are all just human. I remember well my inadequacies during my son's teenage years, yet somehow he became a wonderful father despite them. Now as grandma of his two young sons, it is my prayer that I am now wiser.

  • One of the most important lessons any of us ever teach our children is how to be wrong. How to acknowledge our culpability. How to say those excruciating words, "I'm sorry." How to restore relationship and trust with the one(s) we have hurt.

    How very kind of God to provide us so many opportunities to get it right. πŸ™‚ Because, truth is, our children will be wrong too. And every time they have seen us do it well….and even the times they have seen us do it badly….will help them understand how to do it better.

    • Maurilio Amorim

      great feedback, Sheila.

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