A vital part of parenting is teaching children important skills and lessons like how to cook, how to manage money, and how to drive a car. The fundamental task of Christian parenting is to raise children in the fear and instruction of the Lord (Prov. 1:7; Eph. 6:4). In other words, the call to parenting is a call to disciple-making.
One specific aspect of Christian discipleship that we can model for our children is biblical confession. When I sin against another person, a necessary part of the repentance process is going to that individual to confess and ask for forgiveness. When I sin against my children, whether it’s my impatience or being too preoccupied with my smartphone, it is important for me to go to them and ask for forgiveness.
When we sin against our kids, it’s tempting to just sweep things under the rug or simply move on by giving some quasi-apology along the lines of, “You know Daddy loves you and would never intentionally hurt your feelings, right?” If this is all our kids ever see, they are missing out on a vital element of a Christian walk. They need to see a living, breathing example of confession and repentance.
Here are three reasons why you should strive to demonstrate what it looks like to biblically and faithfully confess our sins to those we have wronged.
Showing what Christian maturity looks like.
Parents can buy into the lie that we need to be perfect for our kids, but Christian parenting isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being a good repenter. By seeing our sin, confessing the wrong, asking for forgiveness, and turning from it, we are showing what it means to crucify our flesh in Christ.
Confessing and asking for forgiveness from our children sends a loud message to them: Mom and Dad take sin and relationships seriously. If we are only ever outraged about the sin that is out in the world, we are doing a disservice to our children. Instead, we must also confront the sin that remains in our heart.
Simply put, if we never practice biblical confession before our children, we are teaching them that it isn’t that important, regardless of what we might tell them.
Showing what godly leadership looks like.
Parents have been given an authority to lead, protect, and serve their children. The way in which we wield our God-given authority will teach a lesson about leadership.
Some children grow up in homes where spiritual leadership looks like a harsh father who can never be questioned. He is untouchable—a man above correction. We are misrepresenting what godly leadership looks like if we never confess our sins to our children.
Christian leadership should reflect the humble, servant-hearted leadership of Christ. Therefore, we must be quick to use our authority to build up in the faith instead of ignoring those under our authority.
Showing what God’s holiness looks like.
The most important aspect of faithfully confessing our sins to our children is what it teaches about God. It shows that we are not God and their hope is in him, not us. When kids are young, parents are akin to superheroes—possessing the ability to magically heal scrapes, vanquish the monsters hiding in the shadows, and to reach things that seem to be a mile high.
It’s tempting to do whatever we can to hold onto that superhero facade. While it is good and godly for kids to aspire to be like their parents, we don’t want them to settle for cheap imitation that is our life. Instead, we point kids to the One omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal God of the universe. He is the One they should trust in. He is their highest aim in life.
On a similar note, confessing our sin to our children allows us to talk about having our identity in Christ. The truth is that we aren’t superheroes. We are all frail, sinful moms and dads who have been redeemed in Christ. Confession gives an excellent opportunity to talk about our own need to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We are on the path to raising self-righteous Pharisees if we never confess our sin and point to our union with Christ.
Brothers and sisters, confession is a small task that sends a massive message. It shows our kids what it means to be a Christian, what it means to lead well, and who is the true holy One. Let your kids see how you address your sin head-on. Let them see how what the grace of Christ looks like in the ups and downs of life.