My Best Advice to Every Parent

Over the past few weeks Trish and I have navigated a new season. Our oldest son Micah graduated from high school. It is such a weird feeling. While you’re never “done” as a parent, part of our role as parents graduated with him. I’ve never felt so sad, excited, nostalgic and proud all at the same time.

Micah attended a Christian high school and part of the graduation ceremony included a paragraph in the program written by each student’s advisory teacher. Here is what Micah’s teacher wrote about him:

There are a lot of nice things said in this paragraph. Genuine. Leader. Character. Fun. But there is one sentence that brought me to tears.

“He is willing to admit his flaws and weaknesses.”

One of the most common questions we get is, “How honest should we be with our kids about our problems, mistakes or failures?” If you’ve been around RefineUs or read our book, you know that our marriage problems and personal failures are shared frequently and transparently.

Transformation begins with honesty. But the reality is we feel most successful as parents by hiding our flaws from our kids. If we can appear perfect then maybe our kids won’t make the same mistakes we have.

Your kids don’t need to see you pretending to be perfect. What your kids need most from you is authenticity.

We have good intentions when we choose to hide our mistakes from our kids. We want them to respect us. We want them to look up to us.  We want them to be proud of us. We don’t want to trouble them. We don’t want them to think we are weak. Not bad desires at all. The problem is that deception never leads to freedom…it always leads to bondage.

A mistake kept hidden is often repeated. (This principle is why the things you struggle with most, your parents probably struggled with…but that is a post for another time.) 

Sin’s power grows in secret. In hiding our mistakes we can actually set our kids up to repeat them.

Maybe we don’t experience the fullness of God’s grace because we too often pretend we don’t need it. We don’t want to admit we are broken. We don’t want to acknowledge we fail. We don’t want to confess our weaknesses.

God can’t heal the parts of our heart we refuse to give to him. Hiding your failures from your kids doesn’t help them be perfect, it teaches them to be fake.

I think this principle is why God shares so much of peoples’ dysfunction and brokenness with us in the Bible. They were messed up. He didn’t have to share all of those stories of betrayal, and heartache and loss and bitterness and adultery. I believe he shared their mistakes so we wouldn’t have to repeat them.

I’m not saying we should share details of our sins or bad choices with our kids. Your kids don’t need to know how often you used to get drunk or the details of your dating life in high school.

Your kids need to know that you fail and mess up and see the process of confession, repentance, forgiveness and restoration lived out in front of them.

Seeing you being transformed by the grace and mercy of a loving God gives them hope that they don’t have to be perfect.

They will then be willing to admit their flaws and weaknesses.

And trust me…there is no better feeling of success as a parent.

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