Humility in Parenting

I was in 7th grade and, in typical teenage girl fashion, I was emotional, argumentative, and completely non-sensical.

I had a big argument with my parents about something.  What? I don’t know. It could have been disagreement about clothes I wanted to wear, having to clean my room, or maybe nothing whatsoever.  I remember that my dad got frustrated with my emotional teenage ways.  Nothing major, but, poor guy, the hormones of a young girl are a lot for any man.

The next day at school, the teacher called me to the front of the room and told me that someone was waiting for me outside the door.  I went out of the class to find my dad standing there, 1 dozen roses in hand.  He had come to apologize to me.  That day still brings tears to my eyes.

My dad, the pastor of this large church, attached to the school I attended, bought roses, walked past all of his colleagues and all the school kids to bring his daughter roses to apologize for getting frustrated. That is humility.

I hope to follow in my father’s footsteps. Was he perfect? No, but he was humble and honest.

Will I be the perfect mother? Will I always get it right? No way, not even for one day! But, my hope and prayer is that I would be willing to admit to my children when I get it wrong.  I want to be able to humble myself enough to ask for their forgiveness.  To cherish their hearts and pursue them the same way my dad did for me.

Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

What about you? Do you find it hard (like me) to admit to your kids when you get it wrong? How do you practice humility in your home?

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  • Katie

    That is truly special, Joy! What a beautiful example and testimony of forgiveness and love.

    I do apologize to my kiddos when I get frustrated with them and show them impatience. I believe they really appreciate this, and I see them growing quicker to do the same when the tables are turned. It isn’t always easy, I agree, especially in the chaos of the moment! I do think it is so essential to do so, though, to keep our fellowship and relationship open and growing, as well as to train them to show humility themselves. This topic has been stirring in my heart lately, so this post has timely encouraged and blessed me. Thank you!

    (By the way, I’m so glad there is “Joy” back in the blogosphere with your presence!! Welcome back! *Romans 15:32* Here’s to divine joy and refreshment!)

    Blessings to you and your sweet family this day! Thank you for your service to our Lord both in and out of the blogosphere~

    • Joy

      Thanks Katie. Yes, it is hard to do in the chaos of life and the moment. I find that I need to SLOW down to make space for interaction, conviction of my heart, and heart connection with my kiddos.
      Thanks for commenting you are sweet to welcome me back! :)

  • Dayna Guenther

    Wow! What a dad! I too have a wonderful dad like that. I thank God for him. He was a pastor when I was a child and teen as well! :) This is a great reminder for me! Thank you, Joy!

    • Joy

      Hello! I haven’t seen you for awhile. I’ve missed you on FB. Where did you go?! :)
      I didn’t know you were a fellow PK! :) Have a great day!

  • Pdnagy4

    Thank you for sharing. That was beautiful and such a profound reminder of what true humility looks like. I am challenged by that act that went far beyond a simple apology which I must admit at times I am almost prideful that I apologize when I mess up… but your dad’s act is such a visual of true humility and deep love for your heart. I want to seek that deeper connection. God is so good that He not only gives mercy but grace upon grace. May we be more like our true daddy and thank you to your father for showing you what it looks like.

    • Joy

      Yes. you are so right, it can almost become a pride thing to be someone who apologizes, huh? In agreement with you, I want to become more like my true daddy. May we press on!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Christin

    Oh Amen, Joy.

    I don’t admit my faults as often as I should but you know what? I bet if we (I) admitted my faults more often, I might do them less (maybe?). Or at the very least, stop having the same faults over and over again!

    Good stuff! Thanks for the idea of the flowers—might have to use that one in the future. :)

    • Joy

      Hmm, I think you are right Christin, because once I’ve admitted a sin out loud, then all of the sudden I have several little accountability partners! If I’ve brought out my sin to them (say getting angry) by apologizing then I know that they will notice the next time, especially if I don’t apologize! Good thoughts!! Thanks for joining in sweetie!

  • Katie Orr

    Wow! What a sweet example of humility! It is so hard to admit I am wrong, but what a powerful way for me to teach my kids how to ask for forgiveness. They have to see it in action!

    • Joy

      You are right Katie! They do need to see it in action. That’s the hardest thing about parenting!!! I feel like I am just stumbling along and there is so much I do wrong, but I do want to make a priority of asking for forgiveness.
      Thanks for chatting!!

  • Jennifer Hill

    I love this post! What a great reminder. I have had to apologize to my kids before and it is hard some days but so important.

    • Joy

      Yes, I agree Jennifer, there are days where it is so hard. And, to be honest, there are days where I just flat out don’t want to do it! But, usually, the Holy Spirit starts working in my heart and convicting me of my pride and sin…..
      Thanks for commenting! OH, and way to go on your weight goal! WOOHOO!!

  • Lenae

    Oh, it can be so hard to say ‘sorry’. But because I had a parent who refuses to apologize to me, I’ve made it a big priority to make sure I do so with my children. There is something absolutely beautiful about parents being willing to humble themselves when necessary with their children, to allow their offspring the opportunity to extend grace just as we do with them. Really, it’s how they first learn about grace, isn’t it?

    This story filled my eyes with tears. Thanks so much for sharing it, Joy.

    • GINA@keepin’ it Real

      AMEN! I can relate to you!

    • Joy

      Yes, you are right, it is from us that they first learn about grace. What a good reminder. I am so sorry that you had a parent who refused to apologize. I can’t imagine the hurt that must have caused. I am amazed that you have such a deep understanding of humility and grace. Thanks for commenting sweet Lenae. It is a pleasure to hear from you!

  • Mrs Juliefink

    I loved this and I love you. ♥

    • Joy

      Oh Julie, you are a dear. Thank you for being such a great cheerleader. Thanks for all that you have done for me over these past few years of knowing each other in “blogland”, You are a treasure.

  • Thebauerfamily

    Another great post. Thanks, I needed this reminder this morning.

    • Joy

      Thanks Jen. I needed the reminder too. :) Funny how that works!

  • Clare

    Wow! Love this!

    • Joy

      Thanks Clare!

  • GINA@keepin’ it Real

    This brought tears to my eyes!!! I come from a family that does not apologize. For anything! To this day there is division because of hurts caused that they will not admit to. Even the abusive actions and speech that took place in my home growing up, if they would only admit to and apologize for, would set our family on the road to healing. But they do not apologize or own anything! When I have tried to bring anything to their attention, even recently, my dad says, “DROP IT!” As a result, I have to distance myself for my own protection, my brother hasn’t had anything to do with them for 13 years. It is the saddest situation! Because of this I purpose to own anything that I do that hurts my my children or is sinful. It is not always easy, but because I have lived the fruit of what happens if I don’t, I strive to do it.

    Thank you for this awesome picture. I can just see him with the roses! okay…I need to go get a tissue! sniff!!!

    Welcome back to blog land, by the way!!!

    • Joy

      Oh, I forgot to comment back to you the other day, or maybe I did? Oh I can’t remember, but either way, yes, I am Val’s cousin (well technically cousin-in-law! :)
      You know as I think of it, your story is very similar to my dad’s story. His parents were very much the same way as your parents, so my dad must have had to bear the hurt of that and then choose to do it differently. I think it is amazing that God, in His grace, allows people to overcome their painful pasts and to create something new in the new family He has created, as in your story. I am so sorry to hear that your parents have a hard time admitting wrong. :( That is so sad, and I’m sure it still breaks your heart. HUGS.

  • Missy

    I really learned what humility was the first time I had typo apologize to my 3 year old son. But I immediately saw a change in his countenance change and he is quicker to apologize now when he has done wrong. It also made me more aware of how I react to him:-) Thank you for a great post Joy!

    • Joy

      Missy, That is a great story. I love that you were able to see his countenance change. That is a real picture of what we are trying to do, isn’t it?!
      I think, for me, as I have had to apologize a LOT to my kids, it has gotten easier for me to swallow my pride and also to really SEE my kids, their feelings, and their hearts.
      Really, Missy, thanks for commenting. It makes my day to hear about your successes struggles! Cause we are all in this together!!

  • Terri Harr

    Love it!

    • Joy


  • Jennifer Ross

    GREAT post Joy!! You’re definitely an encouragement in the “gracefull mama” area!

  • Jennifer Ross

    GREAT post Joy!! You’re definitely an encouragement in the “gracefull mama” area!

    • Joy

      Thanks Jennifer. I think the reason that I am able to encourage is because I know exactly what NOT to do! :) I so want to be the mom that lives with grace, but alas, I am so sinful. I continue to mess up, but I also continue to move forward! :)

  • Babychaser

    What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing.

    • Joy

      You are welcome!!

  • womenlivingwell

    Wow!!! What a dad! I LOVE it!!! Just this week I raised my voice at my daughter and felt convicted immediately…I brought her on my lap and apologized and prayed a prayer of repentence for losing my temper. She followed my prayer with a prayer of repentance for disobeying. It’s amazing how our humility leads our children to humlity!


    • Joy

      Oh Courtney, I love that picture of you taking your daughter on your lap. In the midst of day to day life, I so want to remember to keep short accounts with my kids and really seek their hearts, just like it sounds you did with your sweet girl!
      Thanks for sharing, it always makes me smile!

  • Christy, The Simple Homemaker

    What an amazing father! Thank you for sharing that story.

    If there is ONE THING in parenting that I sometimes do right, ironically it’s telling my children all the things I do wrong. It definitely makes the bond stronger, the relationship deeper, and the grace more present.

    • Joy

      Christy, I love that! I have a great picture of you as a mom having a close bond with your kids because you are so honest with them. That is great! Do you think that it is pride that keeps parents from admitting that they are wrong? And, how do you combat that tendency toward pride (or maybe you don’t have that tendency?!)
      Thanks for conversing! I love hearing from you!

  • Zanetta

    Your father learned well, the lessons from his Heavenly Father and set forth such an example that it is the clearest of pictures for you to follow. That’s what we hope to do as parents. Our children are grown; the baby is a senior. We remind them when we “mess up” that we have never parented them through this particular age. Each is gifted differently and therefore we must respond accordingly. We respect the young adults they are and see the blessing of their foundation. We try and set the example and are seeing the fruits. How can we deny them what our Father so clearly gives us?

    • Joy

      Wow, Zanetta, great thoughts. I love what you say about reminding them that you have never parented them through a particular age. I am finding parenting looks so very different for each individual child! Hmm, and you are so right, it is what our Father gives us so how can we not pass it on?
      Thanks for commenting!

  • Melissa Tomko

    I so needed to read this today! I had a really hard day with my son. I was really harsh with him and blamed it on his bad behavior, but I know that my heart was in the wrong place and I need to ask him for forgiveness. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story about your dad.

  • Charissa

    lovely story!! i remember my mom writing me letters of forgiveness…so amazing for me…she was always quick to ask for forgiveness even without spoken words

  • Heather Shaw

    I LOVE this. What a fantastic dad you have.

  • Melissa Bradley

    What a beautiful Post, I LOVE this! What a Great Dad you were blessed with! Thank you for this challenge!

  • Christine- Fruit in Season

    Wow, that is a wonderful picture of parenting to carry with you for the rest of your life. I love that!!

  • Anonymous

    This brought tears to my eyes, beautiful! I often have to apologize to my boys for losing my temper and it is almost always followed by an apology from them for disobedience.

  • Caroline@ The Modest Mom

    That is the sweetest story! What a wonderful dad.

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  • Katy

    That is beautiful Joy! Thank you for sharing it!!! :)

  • Lisa Littlewood

    Wow! that’s an incredible story– I love what your dad did!

  • Anonymous

    Found you via Unwrapped Tuesdays… That is one amazing dad you have!!! I apologize to our daughter whenever I lose my temper because I want to model to her that we are not perfect…only God is…and that we can always go to God for forgiveness as well as others when we fail.

  • Mamayearwood

    I have to apologize for losing my temper sometimes to & my kiddos respond so positively & almost always want a hug & smooch. They are required to apologize to one another when they offend & so I want to model the same humility that I’m asking from them

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes when my boys argue or fight, I have them role play and re-enact the situation again, but in the wise and right way of responding to one another. Last week, I snapped at my eldest, and crushed his spirit. I was thankful to immediately sense conviction, and apologize–then had us all replay the scenario with ME re-enacting what I should have the right tone of voice. I think it meant a lot to him that I held myself to the same principles as I ask of him. Oh to model humility for our children leaves such an impression!

  • Nicole Worthley

    That is FANTASTIC! Wow!

    I try to practice humility. Right now, my son is only 15 months old, so it’s not as much as issue with him, but over the past year or so, since my son arrived, I have been working hard at humility with my husband. We both have. Some days it’s much more of a struggle than others.

    I’ll be subscribing via email.


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  • Christina

    What a great post! I think that as parents, we all have moments where we lose our cool and make mistakes. How important it is, though, to admit to your children that you were wrong and to ask for their forgiveness and for the forgiveness of our Lord!
    P.S. What a great dad you have!!!

  • Lisa Jefferies

    What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing!

  • Zipporah Bird

    I remember driving back to my daughter’s preschool to apologize to her about a morning gone awry. It was good practice for me since I’ve had to do it many times since.

  • Magen

    That is beautiful!

    I try to apologize to my children as much as possible when I have behaved poorly. I want to set an example that we all make mistakes and should own up to them. Sometimes it is harder than others, but it’s getting easier.

  • Steph

    As a pastor’s wife who is committed (along with my husband) to do all we can not to let our children become a statistic for walking away from the faith, to hear about a humble dad and pastor who prioritized his daughter over what other people thought is greatly refreshing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Shonnie

    It sounds like your father was a great role model and that you too are giving your children thoughtful, loving, guidance by parenting with a humble, open, and aspiring heart! I wrote about the benefits of showing your children your fallibility (and how to make it easier to do so) in my post Be Fallible. It was a reminder for me (I write about what I know well but forget often :-) ) and hope it will be beneficial to others. I’d love to know what you think.

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