Our kids, especially as they move into pre-adolescence and the teenage years, are going to sin. (surprise!) They’re going to stumble into sin, they’re going to eagerly walk into sin and they’re going to be introduced to and taught about sin by their peers. As parents, we desperately want to protect them from these things, and our wisdom and discretion can minimize the damage popular culture causes. But we can’t stop our kids from sinning.
In response to sin, one of the most essential rhythms of the Christian life is repentance (I John 4:9, Acts 17:30, II Cor 9:7–11) — the public confession of sin and the turning away from sin. As parents, we have the unique opportunity to be teaching our kids how to regularly repent, and then be providing them the space to do so. But the pace of life is busy — frantic even! — and this can mean we miss opportunities to teach and allow our kids to repent.
Do you provide intentional, soft openings for your kids to share things they might otherwise not?
The question to wrestle with is this: as our kid’s make mistakes or struggle — do they know what to do with that sin? Do they have space to talk about it, share and repent?
Your first response might be, “Of course! My kids know they can always talk to my about anything!” And that’s wonderful! But even if they know they can talk about anything with you, do they have the time to? The space to?
In other words, do your kids have the emotional openings in a regular week or day to share really difficult, sometimes embarrassing questions or concerns? Do they have actual time in the week to ease into a difficult conversation? Do you provide intentional, soft openings for your kids to share things they might otherwise not?
As I’ve thought about my weeks and my family, my answer has been, unfortunately, “no.” I’ve become convinced that if my kids were wresting with a secret sin or with a mistake they know they made, they might not have the opportunity to time to confess or repent from that sin. How about you?
In response, we need intentional questions to ask our kids in order to give them that space to repent. And we need intentional times to ask those questions.
Here are some ideas:
Questions to Ask Your Kids
- Is there anything that happened over the past few weeks that you regret?
- If you could change one things about the past month, what would it be?
- Do you have any friends who are struggling with some sort of sin? Do you see that regularly? How do you think they ended up there — struggling like that?
- What makes you most disappointed?
- Hey, is there anything about your day that you really want to change?
- How do you think bad habits form?
- Are you ever afraid that not telling me something might be wrong?
- Did you see anything this past week that you think might be wrong? Why do you think that?
- Is there anything you want to talk about?
And please, please, don’t miss this essential question — a great lead in, softener and opportunity, no matter the answer:
- How can I pray for you?
Times Of Intentionality
Bed Time: The temptation before bed is to run through the process as quickly as possible and tuck them in and run away. After all, bed time is what stands between us and freedom! But pause, at least every so often. Bedtime is a unique time, with lower inhibitions, that can lead to intentional conversations and sharing.
Car Time: Turn off the radio. You’ve got 10 minutes (or more) of dedicated conversation time. Kids might be dismissive — and you might be a little distracted trying to keep the car on the road — but this is precious time.
When Confronted With Sin: Did you just need to fast-forward through a sex scene in a movie, or drive past a car with a bumper sticker that clearly said something you *really wish your kid didn’t see but you know they did?* Don’t avoid the moment — lean in to it! Use it as a conversation starter. Use it as a spring board. “Have you ever struggled with that?” “Do you hear those words other times?”