Owning our mistakes takes humility. When we parent in a manner aiming to shape the heart of our kids, we’re going to need to own our mistakes along the way. Jacob gently reminds us of the importance of this as we point our kids toward Christ.
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord has also taken away your sin; you shall not die.”
2 Samuel 12:13
When David is caught in his sin with Bathsheba he is confronted by the prophet Nathan. Initially, David’s anger burned against the individual that Nathan was describing. Upon Nathan acknowledging that David is that man – David owns his sin and confesses immediately. (Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 12:1-14.)
Our first reaction when we are caught in sin or make a mistake is to look around and see who we can blame or how we can justify what we have done. Unfortunately, we are all too quick to take this approach. We probably see this more evident in others (including our kids) than we do in our own lives. How can we go about teaching our kids to take responsibility for their actions?
- It starts with us. – Scripture clearly states for us to consider the plank in our own eye before we worry about the speck in others (Matthew 7:3-5). We have to model for our kids what it looks like to own our mistakes – especially in our relationships with them. If you respond to your child out of anger or frustration and realize it, begin the habit of going to your children and owning your part. This will teach them that it is ok and even admirable to own your mistakes.
- Ask good questions. – It is often easy for us to move straight into disciplining our children without asking questions. If your child has done something wrong or misbehaved, slow down and ask questions in a way that lead them to owning their part. When they acknowledge their part of the equation, affirm them in that. They need this affirmation to continue the habit of owning up to their actions.
- Be the mediator. – I’m going out on a limb to say if you have multiple children conflict will arise between your children. When these situations arise, play the role of mediator. Sit both kids down together and have a conversation about who did what in the conflict. Before moving into instruction or consequences allow space for each child to own their part, to ask for forgiveness, and grant forgiveness (be ok with “not right now” being the answer…we’re not aiming for lip service, rather we’re aiming for the heart). It’s one thing to take responsibility for your actions, it’s another thing to ask for forgiveness from those involved.
Taking responsibility for our own actions is the best way to teach our children to take responsibility for theirs. As our kids begin to practice this, affirm them. They need encouragement when it comes to this because let’s face it – owning our part is hard and humbling!
When is it hardest to take responsibility for your actions? What is the worst that can happen when you own your part? What stories in Scripture give us examples of people who took responsibility for their actions?