Parenting While Human

Parenting would be simple if only we didn’t have to do it while also being human. Being human throws us a curve ball whenever we feel pressured to perform. That’s especially true when we feel threatened by admitting our mistakes. Nonetheless, we need to press into truth so that we can be the best parents possible for our kids, not in our own strength but in that of Christ our king. 

Everyone needs forgiveness. Even parents. Even you. 

Everyone needs forgiveness. Even parents. Even you. 

As a Christian, you probably understand this to be the case. You hold this truth in your head. Nonetheless, it’s worth asking whether it’s made it into your heart. Here’s a good test: When is the last time you apologized to your kids? 

For many parents, apologizing is unthinkable. 

I’m in charge. I can’t admit to mistakes. 

I’m the authority. How can they trust me if I’m prone to error?

I need to be strong.  How can my kids feel safe if I’m not always strong?

I can’t let them see weakness. THEY WILL TAKE OVER THE HOUSE! 

These thoughts are totally normal. They’re also toxic. 

I get it. Being a parent brings so much pressure. You want so badly to raise kids who know the Gospel and live it. All that pressure, all that desire, makes it really hard to admit your mistakes. But this mindset will undermine you every step of the way. They already know you aren’t perfect. They see your faults just as clearly as you do. Maybe more clearly. That’s ok, because they don’t need perfection. What they need is your honesty. Your vulnerability. Your kids need to see you living by the same Gospel you teach them to trust.

You tell them that they’re accepted by grace. You teach them that they don’t need to prove themselves to God. You’ve explained that Jesus has already made a way for them. But if you never apologize to them, it can subtly teach the opposite. When we apologize to our kids, we’re saying to them: “Look at this. Mom and Dad need grace, too. We need it from God, and we need it from you.” 

Not sure where to start? Keep it simple at first. When you make a small mistake, acknowledge that. 

I’m sorry I was impatient with you. Will you forgive me?

I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions. Will you forgive me?

I’m sorry I raised my voice. Will you forgive me?

I’m sorry I ate your last popsicle (no judging! This is hypothetical, people!)

Grown-ups are not immune from mistakes. That means we are in need of forgiveness. 

And it’s not just from God that we need forgiveness. Of course, the forgiveness of God is all that is involved in our eternal security. Nonetheless, healthy relationships are built on honesty and confession. Without forgiveness there is no possibility of a relationship. 

That means we need forgiveness from the very people we’re called to lead and raise. Our kids. Confession and forgiveness is the God-ordained pathway to healthy relationships. Parenting by grace is hard, but it’s worth it. Show your kids that you need grace, and they’ll have a lot easier time imagining that they do, too. 

For the comments: What is holding you back from apologizing to your kids? Have you apologized to them? How did it go?

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