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Why I Ask my Child for Forgiveness

Updated: Jun 27

As a mom, I mess up.

The best parenting advice I have ever received is, "You will mess up; you are not perfect, but making sure to repair is the most important part."

I like things to be controlled. With kids, I've learned that rarely are things in control. I can set expectations, create boundaries, and remind them of rules; yet, because they are kids, they will find something to do that I do not want them to do. We could be having a great day, and BAM! Suddenly, they're hungry and tired, and the dog gets in their face, so they can't deal with it.

I mustn't let their behavior affect my day, mood, or attitude. It's important to remember that they are kids! They are learning, growing, and curious about the world around them. This is so hard for me to remember in times of having to constantly give reminders, time outs, or just discipline in general. Parenting is hard. One of my favorite parenting books, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp, writes, "The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change."

I can get so caught up in the behavior and forget the long view. In those moments of chaos, talking back, attitude, selfishness, etc., I easily lose my patience in a snap and irrationally respond because the dynamic has changed. My expectation of the moment or the day is ruined.

Do I want to lash out? No. Do I want to lose my patience? No. My brother's wife was over for a week during our spring break, and she said so perfectly: "I'm asking the Lord to give me moments where I can practice patience." We've all heard the "if you ask God for patience..." statement. Spoiler alert: he gives you moments to practice your patience.

But when I don't practice patience and yell, overreact, shame, don't listen, etc., one of the biggest goals of my parenting has been to repair quickly.

What does repairing look like?

Repair, for me, is humbly admitting I was wrong in the way I responded/reacted and asking for forgiveness. After we calm down, I bridge the gap, enter into my daughter's space wherever she is, sit down with her, look her in the eyes, hold her hands, and explain that how I reacted was not okay. I confess. I say sorry and ask her to forgive me. I then prompt her to do the same to me, never forcing it because it needs to be a heart posture on her side, and then we hug. We have done this enough that sometimes, without any prompting from us, the Holy Spirit prompts Quinn to say sorry to us. She confesses. Those times fill my cup, and I thank the Lord for loving us gently.

After we confess and ask forgiveness, we move forward. Remembering I’m human, I give myself grace and reorient my heart and mind to do better next time. It takes discipline and practice, and I definitely miss the mark. There will never be a perfect parent because we all have generational sins, traumas, and bends toward worldly things. But thank goodness we can know this and take the burden off our shoulders.

The good news is that Jesus' grace covers it all—our mistakes and our kids' mistakes. And that's why we can rest in not being perfect parents. Where we lack, Jesus will fill. Where we miss the mark, Jesus will restore. Where we lose our patience, Jesus will be patient. Where opportunities are missed, Jesus will bridge the gap.

Grace covers. Jesus fills.

I also have to remember that if I continue to make the same parenting mistakes even after saying sorry and asking for forgiveness, the sorry will become void and won’t mean anything because the action of change doesn’t follow up the “I’m sorry.”

As parents, one part of our job is to demonstrate our faith in God, who forgives by asking for forgiveness from our children. In this, we demonstrate how to ask for forgiveness so that it becomes a natural part of their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ as they grow up. Asking for forgiveness demonstrates humility. It resists the devil's plans to keep a wall up in the relationship and instead breaks that wall by moving forward together. By asking for forgiveness, we teach how confession is still an essential day-to-day practice in our relationship with Christ and our relationships horizontally.

This is kingdom living, kingdom parenting—on earth as it is in heaven. In the Carter house, on earth as it is in heaven.

Trail of the Coeur d' Alene's, bike riding, Kid Friendly Summer Activities


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