How Should We Act When We Sin Against Our Kids?

istocksurprisedkidSome parents are so spiritually fine-tuned, so on the ball, so wise and insightful, that they go through all of their years of parenting without a single regret or hiccup in their relationship with their sons and daughters. For the rest of us, the question posed in the title is pretty relevant.

Most of us can look back at some pretty low moments in our parenting career. It doesn’t take long for sinful attitudes, foolish instructions, angry remarks, and other ugly sins to crop up in–not just the child–me! If you’re having trouble remembering any such occasion, see if any of these ring a bell:

  • You punished your child for ____________, only to find out later that it was a misunderstanding on your part.
  • You grew frustrated with your child and snapped out in unrighteous anger.
  • You structured your child’s day around your own personal comforts rather than her personal benefit and growth.
  • You ignored your child for selfish purposes.
  • You disciplined your child because you were embarrassed by something he did, not because you love him and want to see him grow through obedience.
  • You exhibited an unbiblical attitude toward your spouse in the presence of your child.
  • You showed visible discontentment with God’s provision in the presence of your child.
  • You fill in the blank:_______________.

Yep. Been there, done that. So how should we respond? Of course, each sin is an offense, first and foremost, against the Lord, so we ought to ask His forgiveness in all these situations. But how should we behave towards the child after committing such offenses? Well, here is a list of possibilities:

  • Ignore it. (“Do as I say, not as I do!”)
  • Make excuses. Explain your rationale for choosing to act as you did. After all, no one’s perfect, and you’re no exception.
  • Have your child spank you–it’s only fair (no, I didn’t make this up).
  • Try to do better next time.
  • In cases of misapplied punishment: Tell the kid that it counts for all those times when she should have been punished and wasn’t.
  • Repent and ask forgiveness of your child.
  • Use the situation as a time to teach/restore the relationship.

Each situation calls for wisdom and special consideration. But aren’t you trying to teach your children that all men are sinners that deserve the righteous wrath of God? Don’t you want them to grow accustomed to asking for forgiveness when they sin? Don’t you wonder how your sin affects them when you don’t deal with it explicitly? Are there any passages of Scripture that instruct us on this point?

So, the question still stands: How should we act when we sin against our kids? Yes, I’m looking for feedback, especially from you seasoned vets! Post a comment and edify the rest of us.

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