Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I have learned an important - albeit occasionally difficult - life lesson: apologize to my children. I mean really sincerely admitting when I have blown it, and going to them in the same way I go to my spouse, friends, or other family members. Treating my children with the respect, and dignity I expect from my peers helps build a foundation for healthy adult relationships in my children's lives. And it ensures that I remain humble, recognizing that while I am an authority over my little people I am still under authority myself.

I distinctly remember the first time I asked for forgiveness from Hannah. She was little more than 2, and I had lost my temper over a minor infraction. Rather than calmly managing the situation I flew off the handle, yelling inappropriately. Now, Hannah needed to have her disobedience addressed, and this was the point that caught me! If I apologized, telling her it had been wrong for me to act out the way I had would I be, in essence, stating that she had done nothing wrong? And if I repented how could I move forward with any further discipline? These questions had me stumped, but I knew that I had acted poorly towards her, and that if I didn't step forward and acknowledge the ways I was wrong I would continue to justify reasons to slide out of personal responsibility. Once down that road it can be terribly difficult to retrace your steps!

Since that first time it has become so much easier to recognize my faults to the children. After all, it isn't like they aren't keenly aware of the ways I mess up. The least I can do is not add, "carries a double standard" to the list! I knew that it was the right thing to do, but what I wasn't expecting was the freedom that comes from genuinely repenting to my children for the ways I walk in sin against them. It is such a relief to tell them that I was wrong, that I am not perfect, and that I don't have all the answers. The other side benefit to honoring my children through repentance is the practice it gives my children in forgiving. Besides the work they must do in learning to forgive one another, learning to forgive me (who generally trespasses against them in "justice" issues, which are far different from "relational" issues often present in their interactions with their siblings) provides them with important skills for a healthy adulthood. Learning to engage in reconciliation with a sibling is essential for healthy peer relationships; but learning to forgive a parent will carry over into their ability to rightly associate with all authorities placed in their life. That's pretty important!

However, of all the reasons (and beneficial results) listed above for seeking the forgiveness of my children the most vital pertains to the connection my parenting has with the Divine. Our God never sins against us. He never makes a mistake. He never has anything but our absolute best in store for us. Parents represent the first image of a caring, provider God to their children. I am sure we can all remember the time when our parents were, quite literally, perfect! If they said we were wrong, then you can be sure we were wrong. Period. How dangerous to not clarify the truth. And then again, when we realized our parents were fallible, but continued to act in a manner suggesting they were always right, how dangerous to not clarify the truth. Both of these realities can be fodder for a broken relationship with Christ.

So, I continue to apologize, acknowledge my sin, and repent to my children. They are wonderful in their responsiveness. And they receive the opportunity to taste the grace given to the forgiver towards the forgiven. I highly recommend it for everyone.

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