Parents Behaving Badly

When you desperately need a do-over
Parents Behaving Badly

I hate to admit this, but I blew it again. My daughter was doing her thing she always does. Her brothers were minding their own business, doing their homework. And it was like she couldn’t stand the quiet. It was too calm for her. She started bothering them—trying to get a rise out of them. They didn’t bite, but I could see my youngest son’s cheeks starting to get a little red. He was trying so hard to keep it together and be kind to his little sister. So I stepped in.

“Sarah, I want you to stop,” I calmly said. She didn’t. She ignored me.

“Stop, Sarah,” I said with a little more volume. Sarah still ignored me. I stepped into Sarah’s space, looked her in the eye, and said, “Sarah, I need you to stop now.” Sarah stepped right back in my space and said, “Why don’t you make me.”

Sissy, I don’t know what happened, but in less than five seconds I was on top of her. I lost it. You must think I’m the worst parent in the world.

The mom who said these words to me in my counseling office is not the worst mom in the world. She’s a tired parent . . . an over-worked parent . . . a normal parent.

I can promise you that in 21 years of counseling families, I know that every parent fails.

You know. You’ve been there too. You might have especially been there in the chaos and frenzy of the last several months of holidays. There’s just too much going on. Too much noise. Too many things to do. Too many people to take care of. And then one of your children—that child—smarts off to you. And you lose it. Maybe you don’t literally end up on top of him or her, but you react. Everything you know about good, helpful parenting is out the window and you have messed up again.

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Sissy Goff

Sissy Goff is a TCW regular contributor. She spends most of her days talking with girls and their families as the Director of Child and Adolescent Counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville, Tennessee. She is also the author of six books, including Intentional Parenting, as well as the video curriculum, Raising Boys and Girls. Follow her blog at

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