Updated: Feb 18, 2020
Yesterday one of my children was pitching a full-blown fit. The child said a number of inappropriate things. He said them in a voice that was not an inside voice. I maintained my cool. . . briefly. Then I lost my temper! It’s always difficult to admit when you’re wrong. It’s especially hard when the person you’ve wronged is your child. Here are five reasons that it’s the right thing to do anyway.
1) Ask forgiveness because you were wrong (and your child knows it).
How do you feel when someone hurts you, and then fails to discuss it with you? How does that impact your relationship? Offenses undermine relationships. There’s a need for restoration. Your child may not be an adult, but he or she is a human being made in God’s image. By asking for forgiveness, you take initiative to restore the relationship. That’s what we’re called to do as disciples.
2) Ask forgiveness to affirm your love for the child
When you seek forgiveness you show that you respect them as a human being made in God’s image. You communicate your love. You’re telling your child that your relationship is so important that you won’t allow a rift to stay.
3) Ask forgiveness to set a godly example
Teaching your children to seek restoration when they’ve hurt someone is great. Modeling what you’re teaching them is a powerful thing. What happens if you teach your child that Christians seek forgiveness, and then fail to do it yourself? They have no compelling reason to believe what your actions show that you don’t believe.
4) Ask forgiveness to model a life of grace
Your kids already know that you sin. They need to know that you know you sin. When you admit to them that you are in the wrong, you’re exclaiming the power of God’s grace. You’re affirming that because God justifies you, you don’t have to prove yourself. Your demonstrating that growth in the Christian life comes not by hiding sin, but by acknowledging it. Your modeling a glorious freedom of the children of God: because Jesus bore our sins, we don’t have to hide from them anymore.
5) Ask forgiveness to commend the faith to your child
In her book, Almost Christian, Kenda Creasy Dean writes about the National Study of Youth and Religion. One of her findings is that, “Contrary to popular opinion, teenagers conform to the religious beliefs and practices of their parents to a very high degree.” That means that you are far more important to your children’s faith than a world of Youth groups! Read that sentence again. Let it seek in deeply. When you show that you submit your life to God’s word, you offer a convincing reason for your child to do the same. Your children will tend mirror your beliefs and practices.
What are other compelling reasons to ask forgiveness from your kids? If this is something that you’ve tried to do, what has been your experience?