It was a bad feeling. He just kept staring at me with a look that said, “I can’t believe you just raised your voice like that against your daughter. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of you. Now what are you going to do? You closed your daughter’s heart.”
It took me a long time to move away from the mirror that morning but, by God’s grace, relationship with my daughter was restored, despite my sin.
We parents make many mistakes. But, what’s done is done. We’ve sinned and now we are haunted with a powerful sense that we’ve diminished our relationship to such a degree that our kids have no interest in what we have to say.
So what do we do if we’ve blown it, Big Time?
How Do You Restore Relationship With Your Children?
1) Unleash the power of humility.
It’s always easy to pass over the sin and move on (especially with young kids) but don’t let this happen. Whatever you plant grows and there will be a harvest. We must humble ourselves before our kids. Humility is a choice and it precedes true, sincere repentance. Pride keeps us from restoring fellowship. The Bible says, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5. We need His grace to win back our child’s heart.
2) Remember that your heart is the heart of the matter.
Seeking forgiveness and restoring relationship isn’t about words, it’s about your heart. Until your heart is truly engaged in the attempt to reestablish a proper relationship with your child, no amount of words or other efforts will restore that relationship.
When we’ve blown it, we haven’t sinned only against our kids. We’ve sinned against God. When we’ve sinned against God, we must believe what God has said and then do what the Scriptures say.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When we humble ourselves and truly “confess”, we are conceding the point that we have done wrong and are placing ourselves in the condition to receive the grace offered by God to the repentant. This is how we get clean and we need to have come clean from a real encounter with God before we try to do so with our children.
After we’ve received from God, we have something authentic, something real to offer our children: a humble heart.
So, what does a sincere apology look like? It involves one important context and two basic steps.
Context: Bring nothing to the encounter but your culpability. Too often we want to qualify what we say by referencing the sin of the other person. I want to confess that I got angry but when you said . . . . Can’t do it. Just leave your child’s wrong words/actions out of the moment. The context for forgiveness is one of complete acceptance of your guilt without reference to the other person – in this case, your child’s.
Two Steps: Many of us are quick to say the words, “I’m sorry for . . .” which is a necessary first step, but in and of itself, just isn’t enough. If all we do is express remorse, we’re little different than Judas. He was sorry too. True repentance before the party we wounded requires one more step.
After sincerely communicating our sorrow for the wounds we’ve inflicted, we need to become vulnerable by placing our child above us by asking, “Will you please forgive me for (restate clearly what you’ve done).
Jesus will forgive us every time we truly repent but when it comes to our children, the outcome is far less certain. They might not be ready to forgive. The answer might be “NO!” Humbling ourselves to the place of being rejected is hard on the flesh. But, we’ve got to go there for the possibility of a truly restored relationship with children we’ve sinned against.
When children see us humbly seeking true forgiveness after we’ve sinned against them, we’re not only showing them how to walk we’re also providing a safe place to do so.