June 22, 2021

Help for Men with Parenting Regrets

Written by Shana Schutte

You can’t change the past, but you can pray the Lord will use your influence in your children’s lives for good.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 22, 2021

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

I recently asked my husband “What’s your main thought about being a father?” “Regret,” he said. “I don’t feel I was as good of a dad as I needed to be.” 

My guess is that many mid-life fathers can relate. I also imagine this is difficult for men because, as my husband says, a man’s biggest fear is the fear of failure. When seasoned fathers look back and feel they have not served their kids well, there can be a multitude of reasons why. 

Perhaps they yelled too much at their kids, compared them to other kids too often, didn’t save money for college, weren’t consistent with discipline, didn’t say I love you enough, offered too much non-constructive criticism, spoiled them, were controlling, ignored their emotional needs, or they expected perfection. There can be a long list of reasons dads feel regret. 

So, what is a dad to do when he looks back over his shoulder at the way he raised his children, and he feels like he blew it?

Here are three things that can help you move forward in hope. 

First, take your regrets to Jesus and ask for forgiveness

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 

Even if you don’t feel you are forgiven, remember your emotions do not speak the truth. God’s Word does. When you confess, you are forgiven. 

Next, ask your children for forgiveness 

Even though it may be uncomfortable, be intentional in your conversation. If possible, ask to sit down with your children, confess your sins to them, and ask for their forgiveness. You may even ask if there is any other way that you have hurt them that you need to confess. Tell them that you love them and that you are sorry for your failures, and ask them how you can love them better in the future. 

This can be difficult, but it can be very healing for your kids and for you. Sometimes in families, the words we need to say the most are those that are most difficult. Don’t assume your children know how you feel. Even if your children do not grant the forgiveness you seek, rest assured that the Lord is pleased with your humility.  

Perhaps you are thinking, “Yes, I have asked Christ for forgiveness and yes, I have asked my children for their forgiveness, but that doesn’t change the outcome of what I have done. I still blew it, and I still negatively affected my kids.”

If this is how you feel, remember the next point: 

Entrust your kids to Christ

Every person alive has been negatively and positively affected by their fathers. This has certainly been true in my life. When I think about how negative experiences with my father have affected me, I also think about how these experiences have positively shaped me. For example, the Lord has used them to make me more compassionate. My father’s failures have shaped me in profoundly positive  ways because the Lord promises to use everything in our lives for good. He is the Redeemer of all things. 

You can’t change the past, but you can pray the Lord will use your influence in your children’s lives for good, no matter how you have blown it. You can pray that Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” will become a reality they recognize in their lives, not in spite of how you related to them, but because of how you related to them. 

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).


Lord, thank you for the gift of being a father. Forgive me for my failures as a dad and help me to ask my kids for forgiveness. Thank you for forgiving me. Amen.


If you need to ask your children for forgiveness, talk with the Lord and ask Him to help you with the conversation, that it will be filled with light and love.

Related Reading

Acts 3:19; Ecclesiastes 7:10; 1 Peter 5:7

Worship Resource

Upper Room – Beauty for Ashes


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