The Other Three Words Your Kid Needs to Hear from You

We know the three most important words our kids need to hear are “I love you.”  Everyday, with affection, no strings attached.

But there are three other words they need to hear from us, too.

“Please forgive me.”

I’ve needed to ask both of my sons to forgive me within the last couple weeks. Maybe you can relate?

You came home and immediately criticized your son’s choice of hairstyle.

You responded with sarcasm to your daughter’s innocent question.

You weren’t really listening when your kid was sharing something important to them.

Your mouth exploded in frustration at your child’s slow pace.

Parenting is hard, and we mess up. How we handle our sins are crucial to our child’s

Image by David Castillo Dominicifrom
Image by David Castillo Dominici from

emotional, spiritual and relational formation. Asking for forgiveness models relational reality — we are humans who love and yet fail, who need to be forgiven, and who need to be honest about the ways we hurt and disregard others.  Through our honesty and willingness to admit we’ve wronged them, we inform our child’s understanding of who they are, of who God is, of what it means to be a parent, of how forgiveness is fundamental to all relationships, of the importance of emotions, of what it means to have integrity.

And by asking for forgiveness, we ensure that our relationship with them remains strong, healthy, open and responsive.

Our kids don’t need to see perfection from us; they need to see humble honesty. They need to see that we love them so much that we are willing to admit our mistakes and do what we need to do to repair the relational or emotional harm that has been done.

Let’s make sure we are telling our kids we love them. And let’s model that love by asking them for forgiveness when we need it.

How was forgiveness modeled in your own life as a child?

Why is asking your child for forgiveness so difficult? 

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