Hypocrisy in Parenting

In Passing on Your Faith, I wrote that kids need more than theological teaching; they also need their parents (and/or other mentors) to model a dynamic life in Christ. "Our kids don't just need our preaching. They need us to continually pursue and submit to Christ."

Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Second Edition (Resources for Changing Lives)Similarly, in Age of Opportunity (chapter 10), author Paul Tripp asks why we a heart for God is often not passed on from parent to child. He gives some possible reasons:
  1. Familiarity. "Somehow we need to break through the ordinariness that characterizes Christianity for our teenagers."
  2. Lifestyle. "The word that captures modern family lifestyle is not togetherness but separation."
  3. Hypocrisy. "Children whose parents have vocalized a strong commitment to their faith but have not lived consistently with it will tend to despise that faith."

Of course, living consistently does not mean living perfectly. But these words stung, as I consider how I am parenting my children, such as:
  • when I talk about the priority of knowing Christ, but then make a too-big-of-a-deal out of how many bites of oatmeal they need to eat; or,
  • when I talk about God's graciousness, and yet I riddle them with guilt over sin or childish mistakes; or, 
  • when I demand repentance and forgiveness for how they treat each other, and yet I treat them with begrudging anger.

My children's salvation experiences are not my responsibility, but my faithfulness in being a model to them is. I have screwed up over and over.

Have you messed up, too? Like me, have you felt like there is no hope? If so you may need to follow Tripp's advice and go to your child and confess something like this:
"The way I have lived and responded to you has often been a contradiction of how I have taught you to live and how God has responded to me. I know that this has often discouraged you and made you angry. I know that I have been self-righteous, unloving, condemning, and unforgiving, and I am here to ask for your forgiveness. . . . I ask that you would pray for me, and I would welcome you to come to me whenever you think I have responded to you in a hypocritical or unloving manner."

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