Thing 1: Know Your Child
Thing 2: Confess Your Faults
Thing 2: Confess Your Faults
I've talked about this previously, but I believe it is crucial, not only for maintaining a healthy relationship with our children, but also for teaching them by example to be honest about themselves: their sins, weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures.
Truth is, our children see us sin. They experience and sometimes receive the brunt of our sins, so we may as well not pretend it doesn't happen! If we brush off or attempt to hide our sins and mistakes, they will come to despise our instruction. The disparity between our words and our lives will lie in such stark contrast that our voice will cease to matter. In order to keep their ears and their hearts, we do not have to be without fault, but we DO have to confess them...in a way that is appropriate to their age and maturity. I probably don't need to confess to my 4-year-old that in order to coerce him into compliance and make my life easier, I selfishly placed an unreasonable demand and consequence on him...a simpler, "I was unkind to you and I'm sorry" might suffice...but I might need to confess that to a 14-year old who recognizes not only my unkindness, but the injustice of my actions.
As I have written previously: Thank God that little children have not yet learned to hold deep grudges, nor do they readily enter the bog of bitterness. BUT...they eventually learn that anger, bitterness, and refusal to forgive are options. When that time comes, I think we make if easier for them to avoid those traps if we have consistently acknowledged our own failures, shortcomings, and sins. Stubborn pride can prevent us from even recognizing our own faults, or refusing to admit it to our "subordinates." After all, it might weaken our position of authority or cause them to question us in the future.
In reality, I believe it has the opposite effect. When I humble myself and admit my wrong, I break down the illusion of perfection and my children cease to expect perfection from me. They begin to realize that, though I have been given charge over them, I experience the same struggles they do...to do what is right and best, but failing all too often. They judge me more generously and grant me some much needed slack because they know I don't assume I'm always in the right. They also begin to distinguish between treating me with respect because I've earned it (which I often haven't), and treating me with respect because I am their mother...striving, however imperfectly, to do what is best for them.
When we live transparently and honestly before our children, we grant them many gifts: reasonable expectations of others and themselves (everyone sins!)...the knowledge that because I have needed their forgiveness, I will be more prone to extend the same to them...the comfort of knowing that when they confess their own faults, they are not going to be rejected, but received by a fellow sinner who understands what it's like to screw it up...the relief of living with a clear, guilt-free conscience. We are also gifting those who will come into their lives in the future. Imagine what a blessing they will be to others, including friends, spouses, and their own children when they, by example and habit, have learned to readily acknowledge and confess their sins.
Confessing our faults is a benevolent, godly, relationship-building way to live with our children. May God grant us the humility to do it!