Apologizing To Your Kids

IMG_2950You were a total jerk to your kids. Even though they were getting out of hand, you lost your temper and took it out on them. No wait- that was me. Who knew I had such a problem with anger? Like Jim Bob Duggar says, “I never had an anger problem before I had kids!”

When you find yourself suffering from mean mommy guilt, the best thing to do is go and apologize to your kids. Take the chance that they might not learn their lesson. They just might learn an even more important one from hearing you apologize: repentance.

We first repent to God, and then the victim of our sin- our children. It takes humility to apologize to such small people who are under our authority. But your apology is powerful. It can heal, and win their little hearts. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? We want to win their hearts so our influence carries weight.

Repentance is the basic building of block of Christianity. Martin Luther believed that the entire life of the Christian should be one of repentance. Tim Kellar states, “It is the way we make progress in the Christian life.” Your kids already know you’re not perfect. So don’t worry about losing ground that you never really had. Show them how to deal with failure by submitting to Jesus, and embracing forgiveness. I pray you hear similar words that I often hear from my little Jane, “Mommy, I will always forgive you!”

For godly sorrow produces repentance [leading] to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10


IMG_4170[1]Yesterday my one-year old son took a brave swing at a 30-year old man. It wasn’t a cute “Oops, I was just playing, and I didn’t know hitting was wrong.” It was a definite, “You took my laundry basket, and now I will get my revenge by physically assaulting you.”

Occasionally hitting can happen out of curiosity, or by accident. But usually it’s because the child is angry and wants to hurt someone for wronging him. It’s easy to overlook when the blow you endure is delivered by a tiny chubby arm, and hardly felt past the fabric of your pants. But what will take root in his little heart when he gets away with vengeful hitting is violent selfishness, and violent revenge. If allowed to grow, that weed will ruin his life. Just consider any adult you know with those negative characteristics.

We follow this model whenever we see our kids hitting:

  1. Immediate Correction.
  2. Prompt Discipline.
  3. Opportunity for Reconciliation.

As soon as I caught my one-year old attack our house guest, I scooped him up and took him to a private place. There, I firmly corrected him, “We do not hit!” He then received his discipline, a spanking. (There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to spanking, so let me just say that it needs to be hard enough that he feels a quick sting. But not so hard that you’re being mean.) And then came his opportunity for reconciliation. I reaffirm my love and forgiveness for him by hugging and kissing him. After all, it was my rule he was breaking. Then we approach his victim, and I encourage him to apologize for hitting. His vocabulary is limited, so his apology is not much more than offering a hug. But that’s okay because repentance comes from the heart. Not just words.

If you think this whole thing is going a little overboard with a one-year old, consider the social skills, spiritual disciplines, and ability to deal with conflict that you are teaching him at a young age. So young, that he will probably be unable to remember a time where he wasn’t practicing repentance, forgiveness, and self-control.

His trouble shall return upon his own head, And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.   Psalm 7:16

When [Jesus] was reviled, [He] did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed [Himself] to Him who judges righteously…   1 Peter 2:23

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.   Proverbs 22:6

What Spanking Is Not

If you’ve seen the video of the Texas Judge, William Adams beating his daughter with a belt, you were most likely appalled at this man’s sense of cruel justice. If you haven’t seen it, please be warned that it is a disturbing 7-minute scene of a father relentlessly whipping his 16-year old daughter.

It’s tragic when parents empty their rage upon their children, and then call it a spanking. The Bible is clear that spanking is an effective tool used in disciplining our children. But ‘spanking’ has been so closely attached to child abuse in our culture, that many parents forbid the thought to enter their parenting philosophy.

As a mother who successfully uses spanking in her parenting, I’d like to clarify that spanking is not smacking, intimidating, or abusing. What occurs in the video of the Texas Judge is abuse, not spanking.

Spanking is not a beating.

The number of spanks or swats depend on the severity of the crime. Usually for typical disobedience it will only be one. But if it’s something severe, like maliciously attacking a sibling, it will probably be more. It’s not “losing it” on your child. You should verbalize the number of swats your child will receive so that they know what to expect. They should recognize a consistency when it comes to the number of swats and the severity of the offense.

The point of a spanking is to give a quick sting. If spanking “doesn’t work with your kid,” it’s probably because spankings are given too inconsistently, or because it doesn’t hurt them. By giving them a quick sensation of pain, you are teaching them this message: Sin has negative consequences. They can’t comprehend this at a young age, and that’s why Proverbs says:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. Prov. 22:15

The pain should not be severe, as it’s not punishing them for their sin. Christ has already paid for their sin on the cross. It’s just a quick sting, to help correct their thinking; to train their behavior.

Spanking is for small children. Not for teenagers. Hopefully we have enough of our children’s respect that by the time they’re 16, all we need is to have an “I’m disappointed in your behavior” talk.

Spanking is not bullying. 

Don’t intimidate your child into submitting to you. It’s just mean, and they will hate you for it. No one likes it when authority figures to push their power into your face. Don’t “beat them into submission.” Be a humble disciplinary. Don’t spank to control your child’s every action. Spank to help them make good decisions. For their sake, and for the good of their own future.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.  Colossians 3:12 

Spanking is not getting revenge. 

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Who’s really going to want to admit that they are seeking revenge when they spank their child? Perhaps it’s revenge for making you so angry, ruining your stuff, or embarrassing you in public. We know revenge has become part of our disciplinary process when we don’t care if the child has learned his lesson. We just want him to pay for what he did.  It’s crucial to realize that it’s not our job to punish them for their sin. We believe all our sin was punished in the body of Jesus. Spanking isn’t payment for the child’s sin. It’s a tool to train their behavior.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Spanking is not for satisfying your anger. 

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Psalm 4:4

You’ve had it up to here, and your child still just. won’t. listen. There will always be that temptation to take your anger our on him either verbally or physically. Don’t do it! You will wound your child’s trust in you. If your patience has been exhausted, it’s better to let them get away with it than to angrily punish them.

A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. Prov. 29:11

A spanking should be given by a patient and calm parent. Would you believe that it can even be done with a smile on your face? Not a smile because they are finally getting what they deserve, but rather, a smile that looks forward to how these little corrections are going to shape them into the responsible, considerate people they will grow to be!

There’s no perfect parent. We’ve all lost our tempers, and done things we regret. If you are thinking that you’ve really screwed up in this area, just say you’re sorry. First to Jesus, and then to your child. I am convinced that the best thing you can do after a mean-mommy moment is to apologize for losing your temper. Their hearts will be healed as they see your remorse and humility.