“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23Every parent experiences a deep delight when witnessing their child exhibit righteousness such as being kind, compassionate, patient, loyal, or so forth. What emotion does a parent feel or experience when their child exhibits selfishness, manipulation, when they lie, or when they are simply mean? Could they experience shame, sorrow, maybe even anger, or frustration? Just as our sin grieves our Father’s heart, it seems right and good that we would grieve or have sorrow over our child’s sin. It’s one way we can see God’s craftsmanship in creating us in His image. What about our response to being made known of our children’s sin?
There are three potential responses to our child’s sin, and only one is representative of how we should respond biblically.
- The parent who grows frustrated, or angry, and begins labeling their child, paralyzing them from the belief that they could ever do good or be good. This parent thinks the worst of their child and the child feels it. Children raised by these parents struggle with believing lies about who they are, which literally disables him from even trying to grow or change.This parent will either not train their children because they are just too exhausted from dealing with the same issues over and over again, that they simply give up, or they will not train because they don’t want to discipline in anger. Instead of dealing with the sin in their own heart, they simply don’t try anymore.Many parents struggle to see their children through God’s eyes, but instead keep a record of wrongs and have a negatively tinted view of their child. This can often times cause parents to label their children, an unintentionally paralyze their child from experiencing spiritual growth.
- The parent who avoids, is in denial, or disbelief may want to believe that their child is a do-gooder, and literally be viewing their child through rose-tinted glasses. This parent doesn’t deal in reality, but in what they want to see. This parent won’t train simply because they believe the lie that their child is perfect, or pretty close.
- The parent with a realistic, Bible-based perspective of the inward struggle that every person has to fight the temptation of sin. This parent understands their role and calling in leading their child towards reconciliation with God. They see their child’s sin for what it is, they don’t view it as a personal attack, but understand that the child’s bad behavior is a reflection of what is and isn’t in their child’s heart. They can diagnose their child’s heart condition enough to have a healthy grace-based view of their child. These parents engage rather than disengage child training teaching their child to have a teachable and truly repentant heart.
Our children are not born again at birth just because we confess to be Christians.Sin is a heart, mind, and physical condition. We can witness sin in the hearts of our children through their attitudes– such as an unteachable heart, selfish focus, a jealous heart. We can witness sin in their minds as they contemplate between doing right and wrong and choosing wrong. We can see it as they grow older if their knowledge puffs them up and they begin to have an independent spirit or attitude because they are arrogant and prideful due to their view of themselves. We can see them struggle with the temptation to sin as they are swayed and tempted by the beliefs, philosophies, and ways of this world. Will they choose godliness, holiness, and righteousness or the ways of the world and the flesh? We can witness sin physically when they act out or upon their thoughts, feelings, or emotions in an ungodly or unrighteous way.
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” Ephesians 4:26Yes, the Bible teaches that all are born with selfish urges and that we are sinful by nature. My children sin, and so do yours. And until they become born again and live by the power of the Holy Spirit, able to choose freedom from the bondage of sin, they will struggle with the temptation known to every man, sin. Since we got that out of the way, why do some parents take such offense when someone points out their child’s sin? If you have never struggled with this, good job. Your identity must be strong in the Lord, and you must care more about your child’s holiness than you do about your reputation! I applaud you! But where friendships get difficult is when you have to confront their child’s sin.
If someone cannot see that their child could have sinned, uh oh. Pray for them and be patient, but you do need to adjust your expectations for the depth of that friendship because there is a limit to the growth you can expect in friendships with people who think they are perfect and their kids are perfect.As a young mom, I had no problem with acknowledging my child could have sinned in any given relationship squabble between kids. But I remember not knowing how to deal with scenarios where my friend’s child was the culprit, whether it be not sharing, hitting, speaking disrespectfully or angrily, or simply disobeying. I kind of still don’t get why people don’t just take responsibility. I mean, it’s not like what you do or doesn’t do defines you! Same goes for our kids, right?! Plus, they are children! We should all have an understanding that they are in training and to have realistic expectations of kids, giving them room to grow, mature, and learn from their ways. Here is the deal. When you are aware that your child is a sinner, and you are on a mission to train your child in righteousness, and other parents are not consciously acknowledging that their children are also sinners, relationships can get messy. Why? Well, if you don’t say anything, and your child is standing there looking at you with muddy tears because of another child’s nasty words, and you don’t have the guts to confront the other mother, what are you teaching your child? I’ll tell you what you are not teaching them–biblical reconciliation.
When your child comes to you sincerely hurt, whether physically or emotionally, there is relationship conflict, and there is an OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH, THROUGH MODELING, BIBLICAL RECONCILIATION.Your child needs to deal with the conflict, and to be honest and so does the other child, so that they can grow and not have a barrier in their relationship with their friend or God– because sin separates. Are you paralyzing the spiritual growth of your child by avoiding, labeling, or not engaging in your high calling? I hope you know that as I ask this question to you, fellow parents, I have also asked myself this same hard question. I ask myself questions like this often because it is important for our growth spiritually, as well as the growth of our child. There is a timeless Scripture which says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40, ESV
So can we just all agree right now that our children sin?Can we agree that if our child is in sin, then it is our responsibility to teach, disciple, and train our child in the understanding of that sin temptation and what the Bible calls us to do when we sin against another? The next time a friend’s child comes to you and says your child did ____, don’t get offensive. Recognize it may have taken real courage for that child to speak up. Realize you have the power to tear that child’s confidence down or to build them up. Discuss it with that child’s parent if there are differing stories between children and come up with an appropriate consequence. And, if you have experienced your child lying to you and blaming other children for their sins, be honest with yourself about that struggle, and don’t view your child with rose colored glasses. Pray for discernment; God will grant wisdom to those who ask.
Lord, will you give us wisdom and guidance in how to train and raise our children! We trust Your Word and want to obey You alone. Help us to be the parents You desire us to be. Give us abounding patience as we teach our children how to encounter relationships. Would you help us to have teachable hearts as well, that we might be willing to grow in our own relationships and model for our children what Biblical Friendship is supposed to look like. Help us to be humble parents who exhibit grace abounding while finding that balance in setting boundaries and holding our children accountable. We love you Lord and we love our children. Thank you for the gift you have given us in them. Amen.