Sometimes Our Children Make Bad Choices.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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A couple of months ago, one of our daughters told us that she and her boyfriend were pregnant. We were frustrated and  a little embarrassed by her choice. But then we realized that hers, or any other bad choice that our children might make, are not our fault. Here's why...

Over a decade ago I heard a fellow pastor harp about the bad choices one of his elder’s sons had made. He went on and on about how the elder should have had better control over his son and how his behavior was constantly getting him into trouble. The pastor even quoted a few verses of scripture to support his case.

I remember feeling fearful as I listened to him. While I didn’t have any children back then, I feared the day that one of my kids would make a big mistake. I feared for my job. I feared for my reputation. I was afraid of judgement and criticism. In my mind I could hear the voices of those around me- “Well, he’s a Christian and a pastor, and he can’t even control his own children!” Mostly I feared failing as a parent.

That fear drove much of how my wife and I parented for many years after. We tried to control our children rather than guide them and pour into them. The control was driven by a fear that we would be accused if they screwed up.

Over the years, our children have made some bad choices. I mean, really bad choices.

It’s easy to take it personally. In fact, it’s very difficult to not feel that you’re to blame for their choices. But the reality is that we did not cause most of these choices to happen. It happened because my children made that choice. As I rack my brain, we have always emphasized respectful behavior, and consequences when bad behavior occurs.

And, to my recollection, there has never been a time where we did not instill healthy consequences for poor behavior. I’m not saying we’re perfect, or that none of their choices have come from some of our weaknesses as parents, because they have. But some of the things they’ve done have simply come from their personal choice.

Some of the stuff that your children have done was not your fault either (Maybe it was, and if so, that’s a subject for a different day and a different post. :-))

The truth is, sometimes your children, and mine, make bad choices and it has nothing to do with whether or not we are good parents or whether or not we are raising them right. Sometimes, they do what they are going to do, because they are human beings with the freedom to choose, and you are powerless to do anything about it.

The elder I mentioned, whose son was making bad choices, was not doing so because his father or mother had lost control or were not involved in his life. He did so because he made that choice, apart from their wishes.

Our daughter made the choice, apart from our wishes or expectations, to get pregnant with her boyfriend.

Her decision making has not come from anything good or bad we have done in parenting her. It has come from a place of deep hurt and abandonment that other’s have placed in her long before she was adopted by us and became part of our family.

We begged her not to do this. So did others. We tried to tell her many times, that there were much healthier ways to live. But she decided to do what she decided to do.

I want you to understand something as you read this- we love our daughter more than anything. No mistake or bad choice will ever change that. I’m sure many of you reading this feel the same way about your children. That’s what makes this so incredibly difficult. If love were not a factor, I would not be writing this. But it is. And our love for our children will never change! That’s probably the hardest thing to deal with as a parent.

So, keep your head up- their choices are not your fault. They’re the product of free-will and a broken world!

Have your children made poor choices? How did you handle it?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.