My Son Peed on the Floor and I Shamed Him (And He Forgave Me)


Little feet repetitiously pound down the hall above.

I lose count of how many times I track mine going back up only to meet my son at the top of the steps with yet another excuse as to why he’s out of bed.

He’s Thirsty.

He’s Hungry.

He wants his tenth hug.

It’s getting incredibly late.

He needs a toy.

He forgot to tell us something important.

I argue with my wife about who’s turn it is this time to take him back to bed.  I try to convince her I am more tired than she and that I have to wake up early for work the next day.

Then the foot steps come again. Only two hours till a new day.

I ferociously scale the steps in an attempt to stop him in his tracks yet again.  Towering over him I withhold nothing from my tongue. Every last thread of self control is no more.

Frustration and anger that I unleash upon this small newly potty trained boy, my precious son, I do not withhold.

There he is standing at the top of the stairs.  Glassy eyed from tiredness he is crying saying, “I have to go potty…”  With my demanding bellowing voice, that is sure to wake the neighbors, echoing throughout the house I ‘order’ him to the bathroom.

Barely half awake he loses his self-control and it flows across the floor.  In my wretched compassionless anger I shame him.  I unleash more impatience. More reckless words upon my first born son.

With no shame.

I clean him up and the mess that was.

I return to face the hollow stare from across the couch.

She has no words for me. Either out of disbelief for what had just come out of me or  maybe it was the loss of any respect she had for me was gone in that instance.

The guilt and shame begin to set in.

What kind of dad am I that I should treat my son like this. The one whom I prayed for, the one I had begged God for, the one who I jumped for joy from within when she told me the news. Yet here I am the one who should bare all the shame for what I had just done, not my son.

Time passes and I apologize to him. I let him know how sorry I was for talking to him the way I did and that I love him dearly.  As always, he happily forgives me with such unquestionable ease.

But me?

It all seems to simple to receive forgiveness from him, my son.  Because from Him, my creator,  I feel like I can’t be forgiven.  There has to be something, some form of penance that could ease my guilt and my shame. 

There I stand with nothing.  It seems to easy to receive forgiveness.

How do I treat an innocent child with such dishonor because of my own depravity and be forgiven and loved from the One on high?

The pain that sears from this memory is vivid.  I lose my own control of emotions through tears as he had lost his from his bladder.  And so here we both are together, feeling unjustified shame.  For shame does not come from my Father as I had given to my son.  There is abounding grace from Him.  I have received forgiveness both from my son and my Father. And I am thankful. Gratefully and humbly thankful.

I kiss him and tell him again that I love him always and hope that it covers my shortcomings.

My shortcomings.

They seem endless.  I often sense that I constantly have to say sorry more times than I would like to admit. I feel sorry for saying sorry so much! The shortcoming and screw ups will certainly never end.

But I wonder if that is how God intends it? After all if we could get our act together and fix things ourselves then we might not need Him.

On the contrary, if I never failed over and over again then I would surely miss out on his grace that he gives me over and over again!

I look upon my son, my sweet, affectionate and passionate son. And I make a promise to myself. A promise to always love him and give him grace just as my Father in heaven gives me grace so that I can love him well.

“keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Whenever I climb my steps I remember that night and I count the times my Father has been gracious to me.  So in turn I share the graces with my son, how imperfectly they may be.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9


  • Laurel @Let’s Go on a Picnic!

    Every time my son wakes and he’s not dry, I have to comfort him. He can’t help it and fussing doesn’t do any good.

    Grace is not always easy.

    • JesseHoover

      For me grace is hard to give and receive.

  • Samantha Anderson

    I think we were given many qualities as children that we weren’t meant to lose and unfortunately the world tarnishes that. I have a two year old boy and I am always in awe of his capacity to forgive my shortcomings. I wish I could forgive and let go as easily as he does. Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Thanks for sharing!

  • Kristi

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I have been in your shoes more times than I can count. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Tristine Fleming

    I go through this every night. I had almost the same experience. I yelled, screamed, threw a fit, and 15 minutes later I found myself apologizing to him and asking for his forgiveness, which he happily gave. While we make such horrific mistakes like this, I think we are EXACTLY the kind of parents God meant for us to be, because we can use those moments to teach our children about grace, mercy and forgiveness, but more importantly, we are setting a good example (not the tantrum, but the apology). We all lose our temper sometimes, and it’s important that our children understand that while it’s “human nature” to do so, we can also use our Godly nature to humble ourselves, admit our mistakes, ask for forgiveness and move on. Bless you and your family!!

    • JesseHoover

      Right on Tristine!

  • John Wilkerson

    Oh man, as a fellow dad I can relate. Hang in there, brother!

  • Jackie

    You have eloquently put in to words the feelings all parents feel so often. I especially appreciated the part, “My shortcomings.

    They seem endless. I often sense that I constantly have to say sorry more times than I would like to admit. I feel sorry for saying sorry so much! The shortcoming and screw ups will certainly never end.

    But I wonder if that is how God intends it? After all if we could get our act together and fix things ourselves then we might not need Him after all.

    On the contrary, if I never failed over and over again then I would surely miss out on his grace that he gives me over and over again!”

    Thank you for touching my heart.

  • Patrick Grooms

    All I can say is WOW. The kind of wow after passing a bad car wreck on the highway. I have done this way too often. My oldest daughter has always had difficulty falling to sleep at what my wife and I had appointed as bed time. For the past year, I was taking online classes, where my studies were conducted in the evening. I remember how I would use a harsh tone out of my frustration as I was thinking about what I had to do for class instead of focusing on her in that moment. That’s the thing, we can get caught up in looking at all these other things and completely miss the moment that our children are in, right as they stand in front of us needing us. I don’t want to be guilty of pushing aside what seems so important to my kids because it seems trivial to me, or because I already over-taxed my time with whatever I think is “really important.” Seeing how I was reacting to my kids was one of the driving factors in my decision to hault my studies. A piece of paper with a pretty stamp on it is not worth any damage I might cause my kids. And I surely don’t want to do anything that would cause them to stumble (Matthew 18:6), or provoke them to wrath (Ephisians 6:4).

    • JesseHoover

      I often find that if I am not intentional with my kids, I will end up losing sight of what they need most from me.

  • Casey

    I was so meant to see this today, from you, a stranger. Last night I really yelled at my 10 year old for not doing her homework and being very disrespectful to me. A fight ensued and I lost my temper. I know that I not only shamed her, I scared her and me too. I cried most of the night and had a horrible day wondering what happened to my baby. I’m sure her day was not too pleasant wondering what is happening to our relationship. I’ve been searching for the words all day of what to say, how to not sob about all my shortcomings and remember that I am her mother and she needs to hear from me. You have given me the courage to think of the right thing to say to her tonight. I feel such shame and guilt that I’m going to ruin her and our relationship due to my lack of control. Thank you for your honesty.

    • JesseHoover

      Casey, I have found through my own shortcomings with my children that apologizing to them is a from of medication. Know that you aren’t ruining her or your relationship with her when you have the chance to reconcile with her. Praying for you tonight.

  • J Moore

    Thank you for this! I know just how you feel and I admire your strength and I admire you for sharing your story!

  • April

    Wow, Jesse. This is amazing. Thank you for sharing!

  • Julie

    Thank you. I so appreciate both you and your wife being honest about parenting. I love my children more than life but I have 5 under the age of 8. Life is hard sometimes and messy. Life is also amazingly wonderful. Thank you for sharing both.

  • Jennifer Lambert

    wow, this one got me. I so struggle with being too human when I’m tired or hungry or frustrated. I vent to my kids. I shame them. I beg their forgiveness never enough. That whole pride thing. I should extend more grace. Since when did I quit sinning that I should expect perfection of them, little precious children? Nothing but Jesus can help me with that. Sins of the father and the legacy of hate and fear from generations before. This book helped me, among many others.

    Excited to read more of your thoughts! Thanks for keeping it real.