Why Parents should confess their sin to their kids…

March 24, 2008

A good friend of mine is a father of two teenage daughters. He once told me that he thinks the best thing he’s done in parenting is to consistantly confess his sin to his girls and ask their forgiveness when he’s sinned against them. I think this is invaluable.

Here’s what Paul Tripp, a biblical counselor and author, has to say about this subject:

“When God reveals sin, there are only two responses for the Christian. One is to generate some system of self-justification to make wrong desires and behavior acceptable to your own conscience. The other is to admit your sin, confess it to God and man, and place yourself once again under the justifying mercy of Christ. Parents who do the former will not have a home that functions as a redemptive community. They will unwittingly teach their children to hide their sin, to explain it away, to deny its existence, or to blame others. Parents who do the latter will teach their children to rely on Christ, to confess their sin, and to believe that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more… The key to the family functioning as a redemptive community, where the gospel is the glue that holds the family together, is parents who so trust in Christ that they are ready and willing to confess their faults to their children… parents who admit their sin will position themselves to model the gospel for their children daily.” (Age of Opportunity, pp66-67) 

I think this is so true!

I’ll add this: I think sinful pride is typically involved whenever we want to hide or downplay our sin, but I think it’s possible for one good motivation to be in the mix as well – a desire to be a good example who makes a difference in others’ lives. That’s not to say you should hide your sin or downplay it (I think it’s wrong to do so), it’s just to say that the desire to set a good example that makes a positive impact on others (and feeling the responsibility to do so for those God has especially entrusted to your care) is a good desire. Let me encourage you with this – though it seems counter-intuitive, I think honesty about sin and failures sets a far better example and makes a far more important impact on others than a perception of perfection. The best example we can set for others is an example of utter dependance on God’s grace… for salvation (I’m a sinner who could never earn his way into Heaven! I need Christ! I learn fully upon Him and His grace!), and for living a godly life (I need God every day! I can’t do this on my own! But I have an unshakeable hope in God’s ability to change me…). That’s the legacy we want to pass on! We must resist the temptation to be seen as the hero who seems to have it all together, and let Christ be seen as the hero He is… We want others to look to Christ, and only to look to us as people who point them to Him.

There are at least 3 other things you’ll model well be doing this: humility, honesty (even when it’s difficult and doesn’t make you look good), and biblical conflict resolution (which involves confessing your sin to those you’ve sinned against and asking their forgiveness – not trying to convince them you never wronged them in the first place, or simply waiting for things to get better and pretending nothing happened).

I’ll be praying for you, parents. I know your job is far harder than I can imagine (truly – it blows me away more and more!), but I also know God’s grace is sufficient for the task. May God bless you as you seek to parent your kids well – for His glory and their good.

~Donovan

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