Wide-Angle Mothering

Are you feeling like a parenting failure?

Do your children’s mistakes loom large, while their successes seem miniscule?

Does every day seem like a repeat of the previous day’s letdowns, disappointments, or fiascos 

If I’m honest, I’ve had too many episodes of feeling Just.Like.That. There’s been too many days that failure filled the home screen of my life and success seemed elusive and unattainable… too many times that all I could see was disobedience and disarray.


As I’ve pondered, thought, and yes, even prayed about those times of discouragement and disappointment, one common element has stood out. At those times that all I see is failure, I’m always locked into a magnifying focus. I’m so intent on performance and perfection that anything less sticks out like a sore thumb. I’m glaring so intently at the problem of the moment that I can’t see the bigger picture. To borrow an old metaphor… I can’t see the forest for the trees.

My magnifying focus turns me into a detective and turns my children into criminals. When I’m focused so intently on their every action and attitude, I find myself searching for fingerprints, fibers, and the DNA of their disobedience. Often, they’re found guilty until proven innocent and my role as judge and jury bars me from relationship, and many times the reality of the situation. 

When I have a mindset of magnification my thoughts just run rampant.  A piece of candy swiped from the pantry can quickly morph into stolen money, juvenile delinquency, and a life spent behind bars! (Anyone else have an over-exaggerating imagination like mine?)


However, when I step back and view my kids through the wide-angle lens of grace, I can see the bigger picture of their lives. I can see their growth, their gifts, and most importantly, their hearts.


The wide-angle lens of grace helps me see how the boy who didn’t finish his homework (again) is the first to swoop his crying niece up into his arms. He’s the first to snuggle and kiss the boo-boos away.

The wide-angle lens of grace helps me see how the daughter, who just can’t seem to ever put her shoes away, never misses a chance to rub her tired dad’s head. She’s the first to notice when I’m discouraged and the first to share words of encouragement.

The wide-angle lens of grace helps me see how the boy who can’t hide his delight in “potty humor,” eagerly prays to his God with a maturity and depth I can’t ignore. He’s a boy who loves his Lord.

The wide-angle lens of grace helps me see how my kids stick up for one another and protect each other. They may tease and pester at home, but they present a united front when it’s needed.

The wide-angle lens helps me see that God is working in their lives in spite of the perceived failures that so capture and captivate my attention. It helps me slow down and see “Who” they’re becoming… not just “What” they’ve done.

Aren’t you thankful that God deals with us using that same wide-angle lens of grace? In my 33 years of walking with Him there have been more than a few failures, (How’s that for an understatement!) but God has dealt gently with those failures.

He hasn’t shoved me under the magnifying glass.

He hasn’t doggedly pointed out every area of needed change in my life.

He hasn’t tried to fix it all right now, right away, TODAY!

He certainly hasn’t scolded, and fussed, and sunk into the depths of despair…

Like me…

What He has done is deal with me patiently. He has mercifully and tenderly shown me one area at a time. He has faithfully walked with me through successes and failures.  He’s given me the opportunity to repent, confess, and restore. He’s given me the chance to see God-focused change take place in my life.

He’s seen my growth, my gifts, and most importantly, my heart.

Are you discouraged in your parenting, today? May I encourage you to pull out the wide-angle lens of grace? May I encourage you to take your eyes off of your children’s highly magnified failures, and instead, use the wide-angle to see and appreciate their successes?

Trust me, even with the wide-angle lens of grace in place, you’ll still see areas that need to change; attitudes and actions that need some fine-tuning. However, that wide-angle lens of grace will give you the perspective you need to deal with those areas with mercy, and tenderness, and patience, and love.

Just like your gracious heavenly Father deals with you!