The perfect storm had been brewing for a few weeks. My 6 year old was pushing his limits with everyone, teachers, babysitters, siblings, and, of course, his wonderful parents. There wasn’t anything malicious about his behavior, but there was a constant disrespect for rules and a refusal to listen to anyone.
One evening I came home from a long day at work to find another note from his teacher. Rolling my eyes and taking a deep breath I scolded him, took another day of screens away from him, and told him to go get ready for basketball practice. It was totally downhill from there. We didn’t talk much on the way to practice, and then at practice he didn’t listen to me or the other coach – to the point he had to run for the last 10 minutes just to keep him away from the other kids. I had reached my breaking point.
As soon as we got into the car to head home, I lost it. I was yelling, slamming my hands on the steering wheel and console, asking him if he cared at all about anyone except himself, even asking him questions and not giving him time to answer so that I could keep reprimanding.
This was not my finest moment as a parent. In fact, it was probably the worst parenting moment that I can remember.
We got home, both completely demoralized. He was sent to shower and bed. All I kept thinking was, “How did we get here?” The Lord answered that question in a unique way, He told me that it didn’t matter, but that how I was acting and treating my child was wrong, and that I should apologize.
The nerve! I should apologize to the kid who has been in trouble everyday for 3 weeks?!? He doesn’t deserve…
When I got to this point in my head I was full of remorse, shame, and regret. What my son didn’t deserve is to pay the price for the accumulation of issues in his dad’s heart. I was in the wrong.
I walked into my son’s room and sat on his bed. I told him that I was wrong to yell at him and that I didn’t mean to scare him by slamming my hands down in the car. I apologized for my actions.
He laughed, forgave me, and said, “I knew you were going to come in here.” From there I was able to talk with him about how we all make mistakes and need to apologize for them, especially when we hurt someone else.
It was a great Gospel opportunity too. We talked about how all people mess up and God wants us to come to Him and ask for forgiveness to restore our relationship with Him.
It is a humbling thing to apologize to a 6 year old, but it was the right thing to do. God was honored in my repentance, and my son got a better picture of who his dad is, and, ultimately, who God is.
3 Reasons to Apologize to Your Kids
Admitting that you make mistakes helps them feel comfortable talking with you when they make a mistake.
We all want our kids to talk with us about things they are struggling with. What better way to reinforce that than by taking our mistakes to them! Open communication starts with the parents and filters down to the children.
Asking them for forgiveness can lead to powerful Gospel conversations.
None of us have done, or can do, anything to deserve God’s love and grace. So we all need to ask for forgiveness from God. When we model our own brokenness in our relationship with our kids, it gives them a realistic picture of how we relate to God.
Regular apologies provide a layer of accountability for us as parents.
Realizing that we have messed up is one thing, but taking a step of humility in apologizing to a child is another. On our journey of sanctification, how we interact and lead our kids can have a big impact on who we are personally. Apologizing is a good reminder than we still have work to do.
By Eric Conley