Four Mistakes I Made as a Father

Anyone who knows me understands. Anyone who has heard me speak understands. And most who have read my books understand.

They all know how much I love my three sons and how proud I am of each of them.

Indeed, I often go overboard with the stories and sometimes sappy sentiment I express about Sam, Art, and Jess.

On more than one occasion, I have received accolades about my parenting. People have told me that I’ve done such a great job as a dad. I confess that I often swell with pride at the compliments.

The Reality of My Success as a Father

I am now a grandfather of three boys and a girl. And in this second half of life, I sometimes review those days when my boys were at home. I miss them greatly. And I do have regrets.

You see, I have made many mistakes as a father. I have failed more times than I am comfortable admitting. Allow me, with a great deal of discomfort, to share some of the mistakes I have made as a father.

Four Memorable Mistakes

Several years ago, I told my wife, Nellie Jo, that I was thinking about writing a book about mistakes I’ve made in ministry. She suggested to me that it would have to be a multi-volume series. The same would be true if I wrote a book about mistakes I made as a father.

For the sake of brevity, and perhaps because I do not enjoy self-inflicted pain, I’ll limit the list of mistakes to four. My recollection of these times was painful in itself.

Mistake #1: I stopped studying the Bible with my sons when they became teenagers. I was consistent with prayer and Bible time with the three boys while they were young. I really don’t have a good reason to explain my dereliction of Bible study with them after they reached their teen years. I missed some of the most formative years of their lives by abandoning that opportunity and responsibility.

Mistake #2: I sometimes disciplined my sons when I lost my temper. I therefore punished them as a result of my anger rather than correcting them in a godly manner.

Mistake #3: I often majored on minors. Too often I was more concerned about the boys taking time to clean their rooms rather than spending time with me or doing something of greater value. I was fastidious about their bed times when I should have had flexibility if they just wanted to talk to their dad.

Mistake #4: I didn’t always give my boys focused time. I remember the time I was working on a book while Art was playing baseball. I was physically present in the stands at the ballpark, but my mind was on other matters. My wife told me that Art was at bat, but I continued to write. I missed his triple that drove in the two winning runs. I will never forget the disappointment on his face when he asked if I saw his triple. I couldn’t lie to him. I hurt my son greatly that day.

The Reason for Writing about These Mistakes

I am not having a pity party nor do I enjoy recalling my failures as a father. And I am not writing out a sense of false modesty.

My purpose in sharing a few of the many mistakes I made as a dad is to, by the grace of God, reach out to parents today. I want you who still have your children at home to cherish those days as an incredible gift. I pray that you will make the most of every moment with them. And though it’s cliché to say, the time is really going so very fast.

I was so very far from being a perfect father.

May God take my mistakes and use them for good in others’ lives.


  1. Hank Worthingham says

    Dr. Rainer –
    I have had the opportunity to be around all three of your sons, and I see the fine men and fathers they have become. I’m certain that your wife had much to do with their characters, but I know you had a major role as well. How do I know? Because I’ve heard it from them. Still, these reminders are powerful. Your transparency helps us dads who are fellow strugglers with you.

  2. says

    Thanks, just had a round with my 14 year old son at lunch today over chores. I know I need to refocus, but am having a hard time doing it. Thanks for sharing. This hit the nail on the head.

  3. James Monaghan says

    We learn more from the negative than we do from the positive, in my earlier years of pastoring I was of the opinion that it was unwise to show ones humanity as a leasder, but I have since come to realize that people will not trust your leadership until they see your weakness. The truth is that God calls us and qualifies us in our frailty and humanity. It takes great courage and maturity to use your own failures as the back drop to illustrate what you are trying to impart to others. Thank you for your transparency, it only demonstrates your commitment to seeing others win as fathers. God bless you, all the way from Johannesburg South Africa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *