Dear MOB Society, 
I’m broken. I just found out that my son is having sex with his girlfriend. We did everything right! We prayed, we protected, we taught him to wait. And now this. I want to curl up in a ball and disappear. 

I feel like such a failure. Can you help?

My boys are older (20, 17 and 16).  We’ve talked about sex since they were smaller.  They know our family values and the way that premarital sex affected my life.  They’ve been to purity ceremonies and haven’t been allowed to be alone with their girlfriends in our home.  We have passwords on the computer and parental controls on the electronics.  We thought we were doing all the right things {and maybe we were?} so imagine the heartbreak when I discovered that our teen was having sex with his girlfriend {whom he met at church- this is an issue that does not just exist out in “the world”}.

If there is anything that can make you feel like a failure as a mama, it’s when your kids make a choice that differs from the choices you raised them to make.  It hurts and makes you question your influence and parental authority. But, let me assure you that the way you handle a situation such as this will color your relationship with your child as they transition to adulthood.  Pick a color you like.

I won’t focus in this article on how I handled my son.  That’s between him and I {and his daddy}.  I want to share how I handled my own heart.  My anger, my grief and my feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I was angry that he had such seeming disregard for the way he was brought up.  I was worried what people would think of me when they found out.  I was sad for the gift he had given to someone that would not end up being his bride.  I was convinced that I had failed my son.

If I had acted out of those feelings, my relationship with my son would have been negatively impacted.  Does my son know how I feel?  Absolutely! But, I refuse to parent with guilt and shame.  God doesn’t inflict that on me so I feel strongly that I shouldn’t inflict that on my sons.

So, why am I not quick to reject guilt and shame in my own heart?  When they creep in and whisper to me my inadequacies as a mom, why don’t I tune it out? The feeling of failure is rooted in fear.  And friend, God is not the author of fear.

Mom Truths Failure Fear

I remember reading a blog by a popular Christian blogger some time ago that basically stated that if your kids have sex, it’s because you aren’t supervising them enough or parenting them well enough.  The words on the screen that day were a knife to my already bleeding heart.  Confirming the lies the enemy was feeding me and leaving me crying out to God in my prayer journal.

An excerpt from what I wrote that night: “God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t keep — from having sex with his girlfriend.  Now, he won’t be pure on his wedding night and his heart and innocence have been tainted.  I tried, Lord.  Show me what I did wrong so that I know how to fix it with my other boys”.

Friends, I envision God shaking His head at me when I have those moments.  I completely missed the point.  I was focusing on the wrong thing. I didn’t make this choice, my son did.  My responsibility to my son and to my God is to help my boy feel loved despite his mistake and encourage him to make a different choice.  To show him love and grace, no matter what. To let God speak to His heart about how God’s design truly is better and to give him wise counsel if and when he asks for it.  To hit my knees and pray a different prayer-

“Father God, help me stay out of your way. I trust you to work on the heart of my son and remind him of the values he was raised with and the plan you have for his life.  Help me to parent from a place of faith and love rather than fear. I know you love him more than I do so God, pursue him like only You can and bring Him back under your will.”

Melissa Smallwood also writes at her personal blog and a blog for teen mama’s is her most recent project.

This post is part of our first series of 2014, Hope for the Messiness of Motherhood. Find all of the posts in this series here.

The entire month of January 2014, the MOB Society (for mothers of boys) will be offering hope for the messiness of motherhood as they address real reader's feelings of failure as a mom. Join us!