I am writing a paper on my parents and how their separation/divorce cultivated my upbringing. Within the paper, I claim how in some ways they make "missteps" in raising us to keep the hopefully convey the message that they did not f*** up but it was a learning experience for all of us. What is a nicer way to say misstep rather than rudely saying they made mistakes (because I absolutely do not view it as that)?
They used "poor judgement".
They "had a lack of experience" (or "were inexperienced").
They "didn't know any better".
They "tried their best" (but ...)
They were "misguided".
They "relied on bad advice".
They "weren't always the best of parents" (or "they weren't always the best people") but ...
Each of these carries some nuance so it does depend on what exactly you want to say about them, and the tone you want to take in your paper.
Actually I think "misstep" is probably the best word to use (without additional details about the circumstances).
In life we face many decisions, and the choice is to move forward (step) in one direction or another. The wrong choice becomes the "misstep", and the right one could be "a step in the right direction".
After many disappointments, they finally took a step in the right direction.