Exampleship and Why it is Ok to Fail in Front of Your Kids

As a mom we all go through these moments where we wonder if we are doing a good enough job. We worry about not spending enough time with them or too much time with them. Am I speaking well of others in front of them, especially my spouse? Do I complain too much while they are around. What am I influencing them towards. And as a Christian mom, we worry whether we are influencing towards Christ or away. Whatever the nagging fear or worry is, our ultimate desire is to be the best example for them to follow as possible.

The reality though is we are going to fail and sometimes big, very big.

Now I am not just talking about when the kids are tiny but all the way into adulthood. They will continue to watch how we behave, make decisions and overall interact in the world. That is a lot for one person to do. To be on their best behavior all the time?


So what happens when you fail in front of your kids? How do you react?

Here is one example of my own. My husband and I are polar opposites in personality. I talk and communicate with ease and am a ‘Let’s get this done’, kind of person. My husband, on the other hand, is a reserved, quiet, ‘Let me think about this for a long time’, kind of person. So a disagreement usually looks like this: I do all the talking, complaining, and venting. He will sigh and… well that is it. He sighs. (Please note: we are always improving in this area. : ) )

On several occasions we had disagreements in the car. My oldest sits directly behind me, so I can’t see what she is doing or paying attention to. In the middle of one of this disagreements, she pops up and starts saying, “Mommy, no Mommy, stop it.”. At first I didn’t know what she was doing. Then it hit me. She knew I was angry and she knew connected it with my husband…

I was devastated.

Oh my goodness she just saw me speak in anger to her papa. How often have I done this? God, what am I going to do? That’s it, I am never going to argue in front of her again! I will speak kindly towards my husband and deal with things in private together. I am pretty sure God smiles at my inward dialogue. He knows me better than that.

That was a tall order to fulfill. And doomed for failure.

You see we can’t, always, just change those things overnight. Are flaws aren’t, always, just one resolution away from being overcome. They take time and prayer. Just like anything else.

  • Consistently resolving to change
  • Catching yourself in the process
  • Resisting the urge
  • Learning new ways of action
  • Making the new action a habit

Those all take time and prayer and depending on the nature of the flaw, it could take a lot of time and a lot of prayer. My mouth has been a long-term issue, I am continually bringing it to God. It gets better each day, as I deal with it. But it is still not where I want it to be yet. I am constantly in the process of improvement. That goes with any area of our lives. We are always changing, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

So what do you do in the in-between process, when things are still not together for yourself, when you have children watching you?


What do you expect your child to do when they fail?, act out?, disobey?

Whatever it is, that is what you need to do. In my case, with a 3-year-old and baby, I can’t be overly elaborate. So I keep it simple. I apologize and explain that we had a disagreement but that mama and papa love each other and will work it out. That I am sorry for my bad attitude and being mean. And then I ask her to pray for me. She will not be able to follow me if I get too in-depth but I want her to understand the essentials. I want her to know saying sorry isn’t just for children but adults too. That big people make mistakes and it is ok as long as we make them right. And I want her to know we need to ask for God’s help when things are too big for us to handle at the moment.

Since that one incident I shared above, I have noticed a change in behavior in my daughter, if we disagree in front of her, she no longer says “Stop it, mama.”. She will randomly apologize for being mean to me throughout the day. Which by the way is super cute. Although I failed in being a good example initially, I have shown her how to conduct herself when she too fails.

Expecting good behavior all the time is unreasonable for anyone at any age. So showing your children by example, even though it is embarrassing, is very important. We can tell them to say sorry and make things right but doing it in front of them makes a stronger and more lasting impression.

What have you failed at in front of your children? How did you handle it? Do you think it worked? Let me know by posting a comment below.

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