Too Much Credit or Too Much Blame?

Several years ago when my children were all under the age of seven, I had the opportunity to talk to a trusted friend and youth pastor about parenting. As a young mom I spent a lot of time worrying about how I was raising my kids.

I desperately wanted to do things right.

I wanted them to turn out okay.

I wanted a foolproof method.

I wanted him to tell me exactly what to do.

I wanted guarantees.

Yes, I was so young and na├»ve…

He listened thoughtfully to all of my concerns and gently told me that there is no magic formula for raising perfect kids. He told me to pray hard, trust God, and love unconditionally.

He also gave me probably one of the best pieces of advice about parenting that I have ever received. I have gone back to it over and over again in the past 19 years of raising my kids and will continue to quote it:

too much credit quote

I really don’t want you to miss this…so here it is again:

As a parent,
You can’t take too much credit or
Too much blame.
Why does this ring so true? Why does this simple phrase encapsulate so much about what it means to be a parent?

I believe it is because it speaks about BALANCE and PERSPECTIVE (more on this later…) which are two things desperately needed while trying to raise kids.

I have been on both sides of this equation and I am sure you have too.  It is so easy to go to either side of the spectrum.

For example, think about how you feel when your child is doing well in some area of his/her life: she is potty trained at age two, he knows how to write his name before he gets to preschool, she makes the travel soccer team, he gets the student of the month award, she volunteers at a homeless shelter, he aces the ACT…and on and on it goes.

All great things. Wonderful things! Things a parent would and should be proud of.

We are bursting with so much pride we just cannot contain it. We beam and we boast. We share it with the world. And we often attribute their successes to our superior parenting skills, right? Of course it is because of us and what we did/did not do…what else could it be? ;)

But, how about the other side? What happens when your child fails, struggles, or is openly rebellious? When he throws a colossal tantrum in the middle of Target, when she refuses to go to bed, when he hits someone on the bus, when she is caught cheating on a test, when he is busted drinking at a party? What then?

Our default mode is usually blame and shame. We blame ourselves for giving our children too much or not enough, for not making enough rules, for sending them to the wrong school, for not breastfeeding them…oh yes, we can even go back to what we should or should not have done while they were in the womb. Don’t tell me you haven’t gone there!  We over analyze everything and wonder where we went wrong. Then we hide in shame and loneliness. I am pretty sure there has never been a Facebook post of a rejection letter, failing test grade, or police report!

So, getting back to the piece of advice…

So when our kids succeed (and thank God they will sometimes!), how should we respond?

Let’s celebrate. Let’s be proud. But can we also temper that with the knowledge that our kids do great things because of God’s grace and provision?  That He has a purpose and plan for each of their lives and is the one who is really in control? Dare I even say, that sometimes our children are wonderful human beings in spite of us and not always because of us? (I know that one stings a little, but it has definitely been true in my life!)

Likewise, when our kids let us down, make poor choices, or completely go off the rails, let’s take a step back and realize that it is not all our fault.

Again, God made them to be who they are. He has also given them a will just like He has given one to you and me. They are free to make their own choices. And sometimes they choose poorly in spite of how we parent.  They ignore our advice, refuse to listen to our counsel, and even reject our love.  But that is on them, not us.

I have learned that BALANCE and PERSPECTIVE are the keys that help guide me as I walk this uncertain road of parenthood.

BALANCE is providing a steady, stabilizing and consistent environment for my kids to grow and thrive.  It is also keeping myself realistically between taking credit and assuming blame.

I am not always going to make the right choices either, but I am going to try to balance love with discipline, rules with choices, and work with fun.  I will celebrate their successes and comfort them in their struggles.

PERSPECTIVE is the attitude of humility before God, my children, and others.

It is the realization that my children are a gift from God and are ultimately His children. It is acknowledging that I have been given the awesome responsibility and privilege of caring for and loving them, but I will have to let them go to be and do what God has prepared specifically for them.  Yes, it means giving up control.

We can be so hard on ourselves as parents, can’t we? We can also look at someone else’s kids and be quick to judge.

Next time your child succeeds or struggles, flies or fails, triumphs or tumbles…please remember to not take too much credit or too much blame.

If there are other words of parenting wisdom you have received, please share in the comments below.

We all need support and encouragement on the journey!

Written by Mom Squad Panelist, Carla Gasser, originally posted on her on her blog At the Crossroads. For from Carla, visit her website at