Forgetting Your Child is a Sinner: 3 Tragic Results


        The letters written in pen on the sofa.

        The crumpled up Bible page stuffed in the vent.      

        The well-worn time out seat in the corner.

        The Lego pilot floating in the toilet. 

        This is my house. I live here. Every moment of the day and night I am surrounded by four little spunky boys who share one fundamental thing in common: they are sinners. I love my four blessings more than words can say, but let me tell you – they are sinners. 

        The world, overall, would disagree with me. It sounds ridiculous to say that humans are born with a sinful nature. So if that’s not the case, they are either born good or they are neutral. Either way whatever they turn out to be is a direct result of their environment. Namely, YOU. Their mom. 

        Aside from being completely unbiblical, that’s a lot of pressure. If children are not naturally sinful, everything the child does is a reflection on the parents. If your child does well you pat yourself on the back. If your child has a rotten day you beat yourself up. 

        When we were pregnant with our firstborn, my husband and I had friends who believed in the natural goodness of man. No such thing as a sin nature. The first time they came over their son was 18 months old. He was a perfect toddler. He was smart, polite, and well-behaved. This was no surprise to his parents. Of course he was a good child. They were loving, nurturing parents. The next time they came over he was two. 

        And we could tell. 

        He was a terror. He peed on our floor, he insisted on taking every toy away from our sweet newborn, and he punched and slapped his parents in the face. They were at a loss. The only thing they could point to for his behavior was that they must have done something wrong. They were taking a parenting class on how to “talk through your emotions,” trying desperately to recover the goodness they knew was really there.

        Unfortunately, their reaction to their son’s bad behavior is often the same as mine – shock, disappointment, anger. We know that our kids are sinners, but often our parenting doesn’t reflect that we know it. We parent as if our kids should be different – as if they should be perfect. 

        What’s the big deal? Why does it matter?

        We can’t parent according to the gospel when we forget our kids are sinners. Here’s what happens: 

#1. We respond to their sin with frustration, anger, and disappointment. “I told you not to hit your brother again!” Yes, but…are you really surprised that he did?

        Yesterday I had quite the day with my second child. He pushed his younger brother down three times within five minutes, each with discipline in between. By the third time I was ready to pull my hair out. I had to catch myself and say, “Wait. He is a sinner. This is what he is supposed to do. God’s Word told me he would. God’s Word has also given me a plan that does not involve frustration – the gospel.” 

        Instead of getting angry about it we need to be prepared for it. We need to be armed with gospel parenting – parenting that acknowledges their sin and offers them a biblical solution. We come alongside them as fellow sinners, remembering that our hearts have the same bent toward rebellion. It looks something like this: “I know you did the wrong thing. You know what? God knows, too. He knows we all sin. That’s why He told us we can talk to Him about it. We can trade – we give Him our sins and He gives us His forgiveness.”   

#2. Another result of forgetting our children are sinners is they will forget they are sinners. If their sin always shocks mommy they are left with one option: shame. But it’s not a shame leading to the gospel. It’s a shame that says, “This isn’t who I am. I am above this. Other people might struggle like this, but it’s not supposed to be me.” 

        I’ve got news for that confused child: it is you. It’s me. It’s everyone. Sin is real. Whether we like it or not scripture tells us that it comes from within (Matthew 15:19). Moms, help you kids get used to the idea that sin is part of life or they will never feel the need for the gospel. They will grow up with the squeaky clean Christian exterior while hiding guilt and shame on the inside. 

        Shying away from sin is shying away from the cross. Don’t be shocked at your kids’ sin and don’t let them be shocked by it. Instead, teach them how to deal with it. It will shape their whole future.  

#3. Forgetting our kids are sinners can also lead to another extreme: excusing their sin altogether. We get lazy. We write everything off as “childishness.” I’m talking about parents who don’t begin to discipline until it’s already too late. They didn’t discipline their defiant toddler and now they are looking at their defiant teen in total bewilderment thinking, “What happened?”

        It’s exactly what happens when we forget that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child.” (Proverbs 22:15) From day one, people! Our kids are born with a problem and they have no idea what to do with it. They need our guidance. Ignoring it doesn’t do them any favors

        The tragedy in ignoring their sin is that it steals the glory from God’s grace. One sin was enough to require God’s own precious Son to die a criminal’s death on the cross. It’s a great opportunity to point our kids back to Christ. We remind our kids that our standard is God’s holiness. God doesn’t compare us to anyone else. When they start to squirm under the realization that yes, their sin really is that bad, we immediately point them to their substitute – Jesus. It gives me so much joy to tell my kids, “See? That’s why we need Jesus!” Point them back to Jesus, back to Jesus, back to Jesus. Over and over again.

        So the next time your kids sin:

– Be calm.

– Remember that what they are doing is totally normal.

– Show them that their sin is unacceptable, but there is forgiveness in Jesus.  

        Our kids will be faced with their sin one day. They can respond with despair, hardened pride, or gospel hope. Are we equipping them to handle it biblically

10 thoughts on “Forgetting Your Child is a Sinner: 3 Tragic Results

  1. So so true. Thanks for the words of wisdom. It is daunting to think of the toddler years and even the teen years. I remember my teen years very well. I'm preparing myself for my little girl act like I did! So helpful to have this advice early on


  2. I starting following your blog last week. I love each post you've done. Finally a blogger that's gospel focused! Thanking God for your heart and willingness to share your story with others for His glory.


  3. Oh Sara, bless your heart. I have changed so much since then, by the grace of God. We miss you as well!!!! I always look over at where you used to sit in church half expecting to see you there with Dave and the boys.


  4. I stumbled upon your blog recently through a friend and want to thank you for finding the time in your days to share your thoughts. This entry especially hit home for me as I have been having the hardest time stopping myself from being frustrated with my son for misbehaving (the same things over and over and over…). I don't want to create shame in him, but I do need the behavior to change. Do you typically deliver a consequence (i.e. time out) and then talk about Jesus, or visa versa. Also, do you have a specific bible verse that comes to mind that I would be able to recite when I feel like I want to yell…reminding me that my children are a blessing and I need to be more Godly as a mother? Sorry to bombard you! Thank you again!


  5. I just found your blog today, and I love your insight! I love this post in particular because it is something my husband and I talk about all the time with our 1 and 3 year old. Our unbelieving family often says that we overthink everything and “kids are kids,” so it was encouraging to read your post and know that other parents out there are also seeking to parent completely in line with God's word. Thanks for this post, it was an encouragement to me today!


  6. Hi Emily! Thank you for your encouraging feedback. I personally don't talk about Jesus in EVERY discipline situation. Because I discipline so much at this age (5, 3, 2, and baby) I don't want them to constantly associate Jesus with spankings. I lay the foundation for why we expect them to obey (“We obey Mommy because we love Jesus and want to be like Him.”), and then throughout the day I can simply say, “You disobeyed Mommy,” followed by the consequence. As far as a verse to keep in mind, I love this one that a friend just showed me: “I will gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (2 Corinthians 12:15) The Apostle Paul is talking about serving and getting nothing in return. What a great way to think about those hard moments of parenting! So when I get frustrated with the kids I think of that verse and it reminds me that I am enduring hardship for the sake of their souls. Wow. That makes it all worth it. 🙂


  7. Thank you, Ranae! Yes, kids are kids – foolish and in need of loving discipline. 🙂 It's wonderful that you and your husband are sticking to godly priorities. You kids will be forever blessed by it.


  8. Thank you 🙂 I absolutely love this verse as it doesn't say I will be spent for you, but for your SOULS. This will remind me that I am not just dealing with a 6 year old, but dealing with creating a Godly, respectful, kind human being. What a game changer.


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