U-Turn Parenting: It’s Okay to Turn Around

From Today’s: The MOM Initiative, By Linda Tang

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_245418_left-or-u-turn-sign.html'>disorderly / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Have you ever had to make a U-turn as a parent?

Maybe you had a moment where you wished you had hit the verbal brakes on your words harder than you did or needed to downshift a gear or two in your tone of voice. Perhaps you over-corrected on a turn by nagging or missed the off-ramp because you didn’t exit a conversation sooner than you should have. As moms, we have countless moments of regret and “would, coulda, shouldas” in our thinking. Even though a moment may have passed and it seems too late to rectify a situation, when we submit to God, He provides the ultimate map and course that gets us turned around so we can head in a direction with clear, purpose and Godly intention.

When it comes to a harsh tone of voice or negativity expressed, we can apologize to our children. An apology with no buts, explanations or anything that diminishes or takes away from the focus that you are sorry while affirming your child’s feelings. “I am sorry. I know that I upset you and I see that you are really sad.” When we offer empathy and affirm what our children are feeling, they relax and become non-defensive because they are receiving understanding and permission to feel their feelings without judgment.

We also need to humbly come before God with a submissive attitude and confess our sin to Him.

In the case of nagging, when we are exhausted from repeating ourselves, which often leads to tension and arguments, suggest a game plan with your child so that you don’t put yourself into frustrating, verbal dialogues that can be trigger points in tempers flaring. I grew tired of reminding my 8 year-old daughter to put what she needed for school inside her backpack and having her forget. I asked her for her ideas. Making a list, she said. Great. I purchased a set of 8×10 sticky sheets and she wrote down what she needed to remember to include in her backpack and we stuck it on the door so she could read the list before leaving.  This has saved me lectures on the way to school where I would break connection with her due to my stress. Finding a system that works for your child puts them in the driver’s seat of being in charge of their responsibilities (when and if appropriate).

For the bigger issues, it’s okay to go back to your child and let him or her know that you thought about the incident or the conversation you might be regretting and are thinking about how you can handle it differently next time, or that you aware that the position you took on the matter might have been ____________ and are praying about it. We are going to falter many times or handle a situation in a way we are not proud of or that we question. That’s actually a great opportunity for change and growth.  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26). How comforting to know that we can rest in God’s strength and the wisdom that He imparts to give us discernment and instruction. “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into your glory.” (Psalm 73:23-24)

Being honest and vulnerable before our children and God is an opportunity for change and restoration while modeling and practicing submissiveness and humility with our Father. What an example for our kids to witness for their own walk as they grow in faith and how pleasing to God when we succumb to His ways, giving Him an opportunity to transform us into the parents and people He intended us to become.

This summer, as you spend time with your kids with the potential of an increase in U-turns, remember that God is in the passenger seat alongside you. And U-turns are often where He does His best work–in each of us.






  1. Deirdre says:

    Yet another great article, Linda. Just knowing that we have the opportunity to make a U-turn and that anything we do can be fixed with communication after is so vital. We, very often, as parents, forget that our kids too have a great understanding and they are very willing to be our children and be on that journey with us. They too have the need and strive for that compassion and loving place as much as us even though we always see ourselves as the driving force because we are the “parents” Sometimes I think leaning on our children for advice or a gameplan, as you pointed out is nourishing to our souls. We learn we are not alone in this grand scheme of parenting and that our children are our collaborative partners. They are amazing little souls. And it is in the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.

    • So true, Deirdre. Great points. Our children are partners with us and we can learn from them and vice versa. And that communication is key and the very model in which they learn from. They are very much on this journey with us as you said…we keep learning every day from one another and can go back to that well over and over if need be. Thank you for the reminder that they are such an important part of our journey and our collaborative partners.

  2. Thank you for your insightful entry. I often say “Grace is for mamas too.” We need to extend to ourselves the same grace we extend to our children, and they need to see us admit it when we mess up. I think that sometimes in our efforts to protect children and create the perfect environment, we do not give them examples of real human emotions. If you have never seen an adult model for you how to handle, sorrow, regret and anger, a small person may really think that the way the feel in that moment is forever, and that creates a fear of the emotion. When instead the little one needs to know, it is ok to mess up, mommy messes up sometimes, she apologizes and the world doesn’t end.

  3. That is so encouraging, Dana. We forget how these little ones think, and yes, at least when we try to correct and apologize for our mess-ups, they can see humility in action. Grace does go both ways!

  4. He does do his best work in U-turns, although admittedly, there are too many times I fight him for control of the steering wheel. 🙂

    As a mom of two went-something daughters, I can attest to the power of apology. We did it regularly with our girls, and it helped smooth the path through the early years to adulthood. They learned to apologize as well, which was such a blessing for them and everyone else in their lives.

    Thanks for highlighting these important points1

  5. Yes, that is the story of our faith journey…submission and letting go to let God! I agree, God does do His best work in our mistakes and mishaps. How grateful we can be for His grace, mercy and second chances, third and fourth…and how awesome that you passed down the legacy of humility and having a contrite heart to your now grown girls. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I found my way here from your Nerdy post. Even though tailored to moms, this is a great daddy lesson, too. Thanks.

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