Have you ever had to confess to your child? I’m not talking about airing all of your dirty laundry of past sins, grave mistakes, and idolatrous living before you had your child. That likely has an appropriate place and time for discussion with your children, but that’s not what I’m referring to.
I’m referring to confessing to your child that you have sinned recently, and specifically I’m referring to telling your child that you have sinned against them.
Perhaps I’m simply more sinful than you are, but I’ve had to do this many times. Allow me to give yesterday as an example; around 7:30 p.m. my two-year-old son was laying on the couch and our 45 pound puppy came flying into the house, leapt into the air, and landed with his feet and tongue right on my sons face. Obviously this is a time to intervene — to correct the puppy, to comfort your child. But my intervening sounded like angry yelling at the dog. It is no secret that I am not a fan of pets, and in this moment stress of the day, discouragement in my heart, and irritation with myself met my dislike of pets and I did not control my anger with our puppy. I didn’t abuse him (relax animal activists) and I did need to correct him, but in that moment I didn’t have self-control. In that moment, I taught my son how to release his frustration and anger and I taught him wrongly. I even scared him. So I had to sit down with my son and tell him that daddy was wrong. I had to confess to him that daddy didn’t control his anger, and I asked for his forgiveness. There we sat, trading stories of my anger and Bob’s (our puppy) landing on Asa’s face. You should ask Asa about it sometime. He tells the story with much enthusiasm.
You would think that this would be the end of my story, but it isn’t (remember, I’m simply more sinful than you are). An hour later, my daughter came into the living room to play with Bob and he went out of control again. My frustration with him came flooding back but instead of simply correcting Bob, I scolded my daughter. She had not corrected him for his misbehavior, and instead of using the opportunity to teach her how to correct him, I scolded her for not correcting him. It crushed her, and rightly so. I found myself having to confess again, to another child, of my sinful lack of self-control.
Parents, you will sin. You will speak or act out of sinful pride in front of your children. You can never remove the effect of those actions, but you can teach your children what it looks like to realize your sin, to confess your sin, and to reconcile relationships.
My prayer for each of us today is that we would ever-increasingly grow in godliness so that sin would spill out less each day. Secondly, my prayer is that we would be humble enough to confess our sins before our children so that we (and they) may be healed. (James 5:16)