Right? Of course! We rely on God for direction. We rely on insights we gain from spending time with Him and from being in His Word. We trust Him to work in our children.
Yet, our children won’t be perfect. Surprising them with grace and mercy when they’re not encourages them. Not always receiving negative consequences (punishments) is freeing. Not always receiving positive consequences (rewards) increases humility and other-centeredness. Parenting with grace and mercy is essential if you believe in unconditional love.
Forgive Quickly and Often
Wise parents also forgive quickly and often. It’s essential if you want your children to trust you. Think about your relationship with God. I hope you want to glorify God in all you are and in all you do. I hope you don’t want to sin – to fall short. When we do, we acknowledge it, ask to be forgiven, and we are. (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13–14; 1 John 1:9)
We are forgiven! There are no back-and-forth what-if conversations. Long explanations aren’t required. God doesn’t decide based on frequency or comparisons of any kind whether this sin or that sin should be forgiven. Because He supplied His Son, Jesus, as our sacrifice, He forgives us completely. His forgiveness cleanses away the guilt (or it should). He loves us unconditionally through it all.
God’s forgiveness allows our relationship to be unhindered. We’re clear, open, and readily available to each other. The same thing is true when parents forgive children.
Wise parents forgive quickly and often. Remember, you’re parenting by faith and relying on God to direct you to help your children mature in righteousness. Certainly, hope and pray forgiveness is less and less necessary because your children make wiser, God-honoring choices as they mature. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’re easily accepting children’s misbehavior. It means you understand they’re growing. Forgiveness demonstrates your compassionate heart.
Forgiveness frees children to be honest with you and to seek you out in times of need. It they don’t believe you’ll forgive them, they may not admit they’ve done anything wrong. Now they’ll hide and perhaps lie, which simply adds to the problem. You won’t get to help them. They’ll grow if they know you love them unconditionally, accept their apologies, and forgive them.
Ask to be Forgiven Quickly and Often
Wise parents ask to be forgiven quickly and as often as necessary. Far too many children tell me their parents (and teachers) don’t apologize and ask to be forgiven. Some are mad when they tell me. Others are incredulous.
These children typically ask me two questions:
- Is it because they think they’re perfect?
There are several problems with this. Children have a harder time admitting their mistakes, sins, and needs to adults who think they are perfect. Children assume these adults won’t understand or believe them when they say things like “I didn’t mean to.”
- Is it because I’m just a kid?
This, of course, concerns me. If children feel dismissed or demeaned by adults, their relationship will suffer. It’s going to be harder for children to trust these adults with their hearts.
Not admitting our mistakes, faults, and sins when we expect and even demand that children do smacks of hypocrisy and will result in unhealthy interactions and relationships.
What Do You Think?
When forgiveness occurs, it’s easier for the past to not define you or your children. Forgiveness frees us for the future. Our past choices and behaviors will not control us.
I think we should parent by forgiving quickly and often and asking to be forgiven quickly and often. Do you agree. How are you doing at this whole forgiveness thing?