This post is part of a series on parenting mistakes I have made. I am sharing those here in hopes that some of you may be encouraged that you are not alone in making mistakes and also to hopefully keep you from making these same mistakes.
One of the mistakes I regret the most happened when I strongly suspecting one of my children was lying. The thing is, I had no way of proving it, just a very strong suspicion. Here’s what happened:
Just after my son had been playing alone in the backyard, I noticed that the concrete bird bath had been toppled over and broken into pieces. I immediately suspected that he had something to do with it, so I called him into my room and questioned him about it.
He immediately and confidently, too confidently, I thought, said that he didn’t do it.
I felt certain that he had done it and was lying to keep out of trouble. After all he had just been out there, and everyone else was playing elsewhere. Who else could have done it? It had to be him. Circumstantial evidence was supporting my suspicions.
I went over all the above details and told him I knew he was lying and he had better confess. He stuck to his story and I stuck to my guns.
After a very lengthy session of “You are lying” and “No, I’m not,” he finally confessed, although very grudgingly.
Years later, through many bitter tears he told me I had actually coerced him into lying. He had not really done it, but in order to stop my torturous accusations, he lied and told me he had. (We together concluded our large dog must have done it.)
Can you imagine my horror and shame? My own son could not trust me to protect him. From ME.
It took time and many tearful apologies from me to heal the wounds and mistrust that I caused him through my accusations.
Because of that incident and the damage done, my policy now is that unless I can prove a misdeed with conclusive evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt, I do not accuse.
I will ask for a confession, and I pray aloud for the guilty party to be racked with so much guilt that they will confess and repent.
Recently, we had an issue of unauthorized cutting of the baby’s hair. I knew she couldn’t have done it herself, because a big gap was neatly cut in the back. No one would admit doing it, but the baby repeatedly placed the blame on a certain sister. I was pretty sure the baby was right, but since I never got a confession, I did not accuse.
But every night during bedtime prayers, I asked God to lead the guilty party to confess and repent. She never did, and I have had to let it go. It is so important to me to never repeat the situation I put my son through, that I am willing to let a crime go unpunished, rather than falsely accuse a child ever again.
I hope to never repeat the awful mistake I made years ago, and I pray I won’t make other mistakes that have lasting effects like that one.
The thing is, now I have enough years of parenting experience that I know mistakes are inevitable. It’s the humility we have about those mistakes that can be a teachable moment for our children.
Of course, we don’t want to make mistakes, but when they happen, we can learn, along with our children, about the power of forgiveness and God’s amazing grace.
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