Taking Credit for the Good….and the Bad

Dec 8, 2011

I was complimenting one of my mentors on her amazing 4 adult children and she responded with:

“I decided awhile ago that if I’m going to take credit for the good that they do, I’m going to have to take credit for the bad too.”

Great point.

We pour a lot of time and effort into our children. On a day-to-day basis we don’t typically see the fruits of our labor. There will be the temptation when they are heading off to college, getting internships, finding a spouse, working…for us to take credit for how well they turn out. But they will also go through years where we may not agree with choices they make. If we are going to take credit for the good, we will have to take credit for the bad.

Even with young children, we can brag on and on about something cute, amazing, or brilliant they have done…but do we share the embarrassing stories as well?

Take for example my 4 year old. He is such a sweet heart. The other day I was crying because a close friend’s dad had just died of cancer. He asked me why I was crying and then responded with, “Well we could pray.” Precious.

I felt like all the time I had modeled praying in the moment had sunk in. He understood where our Help & Strength comes from. I felt like a really great mom. A winner.

The previous day, however, he didn’t not make such good choices.

While I was making dinner and cutting the fat off some chicken, he reached up grabbed a small piece of chicken and put it in his mouth. WHAT!?! “spit it out!! Go wash your hands!! gross!!” I didn’t think to tell him not to eat raw chicken or that he would even think to do it.

An hour later we had finished up our Truth in the Tinsel ornaments and had hung them on the tree. I was talking with the boys about Christmas Carols and cleaning up the art supplies when I look up to see my 4 yr old leaping from the sidearm of the couch into our Christmas tree!!!

Like a little monkey clinging on to the side of the tree, it swung back and then ricocheted forward. All this time I’m screaming, “NO!!!! What are you doing?!!!”. I ran to catch the tree as it came crashing toward the floor, ornaments spilling everywhere. (no I did not get a picture!)

In my head I thought, “this is funny, I should be laughing” but in my pregnant emotional state I started crying and verbalizing how sad I was that Christmas was ruined. I sat on the floor at the base of the tree trying to get it to stand back up, lamenting my role as a mom of wild boys.

Do I want to take credit for that behavior? I’ve let him see that seen from “Elf” where Buddy  jumps into the tree to put the star on the top. I hadn’t told him NOT to jump into the Christmas tree. So do I want to take the blame for that?

Yes, our children have free wills. Yes, they have sin nature (not that either of these examples are sin). Yes, they will be independent adults some day and each suffer the consequences of their actions.

My point, and my mentor’s point, is that as moms we need to do our best to train our children in the way we feel God wants them to go. But as far as the results…we can’t take credit for whether there are good or bad results along the way.

It makes me think of the quote I loved from “Give them Grace”, we can’t assume that “good parenting in means good kids out.”  We must be faithful in our role as parents and leave the results to God. “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Ps 3:8).

Linking up with: Thought Provoking Thursdays and The MOB Society’s “Let’s Hear it for the Boys”


  1. Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace

    This is a wonderful thought. I had never thought about it like that before. Thanks for your transparency.

  2. Ms. Kathleen

    What an excellent and thought provoking post. You are a wise money to realize this while you children are so young… I constantly have to pray my adult children into God’s hands. They were raised with the word of God but not all follow the Lord BUT I have that promise from God, “Train up your child in the ways of the Lord and when they grow old, they will not depart from it”. I have kids who are prodigals I guess you could say… Someday they will come running back to the Father and He will welcome them with open arms. Hugs to you!

    • Ms. Kathleen

      Oh, Wise Mommy! Ha! Sorry about that – time to get off the computer!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thanks Kathleen. All wisdom I have goes to God’s blessing or to the amazing wise older moms in my life. Thankful to have some Godly women who feed me truth and give me perspective on this journey. Thank you for sharing about your own children. I know that’s hard but I also know that the prodigal’s heart had the greatest change for good in the Bible parable. His brother remained self-righteous and hard-hearted. Praying for your children right now that they would turn to truth soon. (hugs)

  3. Christina Gilliland (@MommaDayByDay)

    Yes…this…Thanks for this, Heather! It is God’s great grace that even helps our kiddos bear the good fruit we so want them to bear. He gives us the strength and endurance to love them, albeit it imperfect love. He does it all! we are just the vessels who are blessed to see it all happen 😉

    • Heather MacFadyen

      oh I like that Christina “the good fruit He wants them to bear”. The key for me is plugging into His strength and not trying to muscle through parenting on my own efforts. Thanks for your encouragement Christina!

  4. Lisa

    Good parenting in doesn’t guarantee good kids out – that’s so good and something a lot of parents need to hear, including me. We must be faithful and leave the results to God. Great encouragement!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thanks lisa. I wish that quote would sink in more with me. Hard to let go of control and let God move their hearts.

  5. melissasmallwood

    Very well said. All glory goes to God for the strength to parent these precious boys of mine, that is for sure!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Glory to God for sure!! thanks Melissa.

  6. Jamie (@va_grown)

    Great thoughts here. And I think, how often do I react to their sin or bad behavior with my own sin or bad behavior? A lot to think about.

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