“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9
It is very difficult for parents to ask their children for forgiveness. They feel that it somehow damages their authority to admit they have done wrong and promise to do better next time. But I (jcd) believe it is healthy for a mom and dad to model for a child how to apologize when they have done something wrong.
One evening years ago, I was especially grouchy with my ten‐year‐old daughter, Danae. I blamed her for things that weren’t her fault and upset her needlessly. After I went to bed, I realized that I needed to apologize. The next morning I said, “Danae, I’m sure you know that daddies are not perfect human beings. I know I wasn’t fair with you last night. I was terribly grouchy, and I’m asking you to forgive me.” Danae put her arms around me, then shocked me to my toes when she said, “I knew you were going to have to apologize, Daddy, and it’s okay. I forgive you!”
If parents never admit their wrongs, their children often remember the offenses well into adulthood. Instead of clearing the air and reestablishing the relationship, the hurt feelings are stored in the memory bank to fester. Furthermore, by admitting a wrong, the parent says on the record that things will change—that he or she will try not to make the same mistake in the future. Healthy families follow these principles of forgiveness… from the top down!
Heavenly Father, it’s never easy to admit we’re wrong—especially to children. Give us the courage to seek forgiveness from our kids whenever it’s warranted. May our family grow up without lingering bitterness and hurt. Amen.