In Parenting There are No Guarantees

I once read a parenting book that frustrated me.

The wisdom was amazing, but it felt like the author was saying, “I raised great kids, and here’s how you can, too.” There were many 1 + 1 + 1= 3 insinuations like:

Taking kids to church + studying God’s word + surrounding them with godly people = godly kids set for life.

I believe in intentional parenting, and I believe it’s really hard to love someone you don’t really know. For our children to know, love, and understand God, it’s important that we take them to church, share Scripture, cultivate character, and encourage healthy relationships.

But what some parenting books ignore (or skim over) is the fact that even the best parenting doesn’t guarantee results. Jesus was the perfect teacher, yet one of his disciples betrayed him. His perfection could not override the free will that God gives to everyone.

Additionally, a child who looks like a role model can be more distant from God than a child whose life is in shambles but who has a deep, desperate faith. A young adult who thrives in their twenties may self-destruct in their forties. There is no guarantee that any child is set for life, no matter how well-adjusted they seem as they leave home or enter the real world.

Cameron Cole, a youth pastor in the same church for 14 years, wrote a thought-provoking article for Rooted Ministry titled, “Mystery and Lament: When It Looks Like Your Child’s Life is Falling Apart.” He talks about God’s long-game vision and waiting patiently for Him to act.

Cameron writes:

I have seen the sweet, “good,” youth ministry insider the type who answers every question in Sunday school and never misses a youth event – become the pot-smoking atheist. I have seen the rebellious high schooler become a Jesus-loving man of the Gospel, the quietly skeptical girl become a consistent church-goer in college, and the kid with superstar Christian parents never give Christianity a second thought.

Cameron says that God makes no guarantees in this life, but regardless of how messy, painful, and hopeless things look, God is at work in your child’s life. He pursues your child, and whether they realize it or participate in it, He will use their life for His ultimate glory. As we accept the unpredictable nature of God’s redemptive work, we gain patience in challenging moments. 

This is real life. This acknowledges how today is one chapter in a larger story, and though we can’t predict the future, we can stay faithful in never giving up on our children or God.

A priest once said that our job as Christians is to plant seeds, and God will make sure those seeds take root at a time most opportune to a person’s salvation. In parenting, I take this to mean that what we do, say, or teach today may not sink into our child’s heart until ten or twenty years from now (if then) when it’s desperately needed. Our children have a Savior, but that Savior is not us, and there comes a point where we must let go and trust God to do His thing.

In the meantime, we can pray. We can be prayer warriors and remember these words from my friend’s husband: The older our children get, the more we go to God about our children than we go to our children about God. God answers prayers, but He can’t answer what we don’t pray, and though we won’t always get the answer we hope for, we can stand on His promise to work all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

So to any parent who is struggling, who is worried sick about their teenager, who has seen their college student drift, whose child is making poor choices or shunning the church despite being raised in faith, stay strong. Remember no act of love is a waste, and you can still impact your child by the character of your life.

Keep praying, keep planting seeds, and keep believing in God’s ability to work miracles. You may not see immediate results, but you can be certain God is at work, pursuing your child, hearing your prayers, and planning ways to reveal Himself at a time most opportune to your child’s salvation.


Thanks for reading this message today. If you enjoyed it, please share it on social media.

My new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter is now available, and it’s getting a fantastic response as moms read it and share it with friends. You can find it everywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Audible. What a privilege it’s been to narrate my first book for moms!   

My two books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, have been used widely across the U.S. for group studies. For more posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on FacebookInstagram and the Girl Mom podcast.



Posted by Kari on July 29, 2019

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5 thoughts on "In Parenting There are No Guarantees"

  1. Deidre Jones says:

    Thank you for your encouragement. I needed to hear this today!

  2. Debby Shepherd says:

    Thank you for this Kari. It really helped me today. God does not give up on us or our children. We are all a work in progress.

  3. Meloney Thomas Ashford says:

    Kari, thank you for writing this beautiful article. It touched me, enlightened me and gave me peace in a world of some many uncertainties. I pray daily over my kids and hope I am giving them all the ingredients to have a healthy relationship with Christ. Thank you again & thanks for giving me a new perspective Christ/life.

  4. Sarah Durham says:

    Ash Christian parents it’s VERY important to remember that your child’s salvation is not up to you. You are to love you child. LOVE. Whatever that looks like for your child; and in my experience it means getting myself in a counselor’s or psychologist’s chair! Ultimately their choice to follow Jesus is between them and God. God wants the glory for saving you child, and he will not share his glory with you.

  5. Ginger Loper says:

    Kari – love this piece so much. so rich with wisdom. printing this out to re-read again and again! Love, Ginger

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