For Parents Who Feel Guilty

by | Feb 7, 2016 | what you can do | 2 comments

guilty.theheatlighting.comYour child’s in jail. They have an eating disorder. They cut and slash at their flesh, burn themselves and break bones. They’re addicted to porn, sex, drugs or alcohol. They’re in a relationship with the same sex. They suffer with depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD or an anxiety disorder. They’ve attempted suicide. You can’t understand how you got here. How could this happen? Where did you go wrong?

You tried so hard: to be a good parent, to do the right things, to give them everything, to raise a healthy, thriving adult – and now this. The emotional pain defies description. And you feel so guilty. So terribly, horribly guilty.

Some may have inferred that their troubles are somehow your fault.

“Did you discipline them enough?”

“Is it possible you were too harsh?”

“Maybe you should’ve done_____, then ________ wouldn’t have happened.”


Their well-meaning words felt like a knife in the heart. Worse yet, you began to doubt yourself, “Could it be true? Are they right? Are my child’s troubles somehow my fault?”

Please listen closely. I want you to know that unless you encouraged your child’s behaviors or pushed them into their current situation with your blessing, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! Did you hear that?

Refuse the guilt. Don’t give in to it. Stop berating yourself. Don’t believe the lie that their troubles are the result of something you did or didn’t do. And don’t let the if-only’s harass you, either. Throw a big Rock at them and walk away. The Rock is Jesus. Send him to the door when guilt comes knocking. Bring His truth to counter every accusation the Enemy screams in your head. God’s Truth for Satan’s lies.

I understand. Like you, I struggled with guilt, too.

Then I met another parent who had walked this journey much longer than I. He reminded me of something I would need to remember for years to come. His words still have a huge impact. Here’s the gist of what he said:

Stop feeling guilty about your child because God, the only perfect parent who never made any mistakes, also has children who mess up and do terrible things. Look what happened to Adam and Eve. Was it God’s fault? Not at all! Our parenting skills can’t begin to compare with His, but if the all-powerful God of the universe ended up with children who hurt and disappoint Him, then who are we to think that we deserve any better? Hmmmmm…

You’ll probably want to think about this for a while. It’ll take time for these words sink into your heart and mind – until you can believe they’re really true. Where you feel the need, forgive yourself and accept God’s forgiveness. But know that He doesn’t blame you for your child’s choices. He looks on you with compassion and empathy. As a fellow hurting parent, He understands the heaviness you carry and I strongly believe He doesn’t want you to add more to it.

The following Scripture gives me peace when I start to blame myself again. It sheds light on what we can do when we have a guilt attack:

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, BUT sunrise2our eyes are on you.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

God of abundant understanding, when guilt weighs heavy on our hearts remind us what’s true. Open our ears to Your comforting voice. Help us keep our eyes on You. It’s the best thing we can do.


*photo cred/



  1. Beverly

    My 19-year old grandson is deep in addiction to drugs and alcohol. His parents, his two younger brothers, and I are all devastated! This young man had everything going for him: he was an A student who took great pride in having perfect attendance, he excelled in two different sports, and he was very well-liked by the entire school. When he was about 15, something happened that changed all that—a gradual change that occurred over several months. It is too long a story to go into here, but I feel terrible anguish for him and for his mom (my daughter). Feel so guilty that I failed my daughter in so many ways during her teens. I continue to pray fervently every day for our family to be healed.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Beverly, thank you for sharing with us about your grandson. We are so very sorry for your deep pain and what it’s doing to the whole family. This kind of thing has a huge ripple effect. It’s so hard to watch your loved one struggle and feel completely powerless to be able to do anything to help. Please don’t take that guilt on yourself. It will only rob you of joy and peace. It won’t help anyone. You did the best you could and none of us is perfect. If God leads you to ask His forgiveness for something, then do that. Receive His forgiveness and be sure to forgive yourself, too, and know that your daughter made her own choices. This is not your fault. Your grandson is making his choices, too.

      Only God knows what happened that changed the direction of his life, but when he’s ready, hopefully he’ll turn to the Lord to find healing and restoration. Until then, never give up. God cares and hurts with you. We encourage you to keep praying. The prayers of a righteous person can accomplish miracles! It might not feel like you’re doing very much, but prayer is the greatest thing you can do.

      I’d like to recommend a few books that helped us. From our experience, after a while we ran out of words and could only cry out, “Help us, God!” These are two f our favorites: Prayers and Promises by Robert J. Morgan and Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks. Both are listed on our resources page. If you order them through our site Amazon will pay us a small percent. This will help us continue with our ministry.

      God bless you today with the reassurance that You are Not Alone!
      “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Ps. 29:11)