Even though my children are grown now, I still suffer moments of guilt and sorrow over things I wish I had done differently as a parent. It is easy to look back with hindsight and see all the mistakes we made or choices that we regret. My husband and I had the best intentions as parents, but as fallible human beings we made mistakes. Every parent does.
But what do you do with the guilt?
When our children were growing up, if my husband or I blew it with them, we took the time to apologize right away. Whether it was losing our temper, or saying or doing something hurtful, once we realized we had been wrong, we asked forgiveness for our behavior. We did it sincerely and honestly. Deal with the sin right away and confess it to God and your children. Pray together and ask God help you be the parent He wants you to be. Like our Heavenly Father, children are always ready to forgive and give you another chance.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I have had people tell me that you should NEVER ask forgiveness of your children. I could not disagree more. Asking forgiveness from your children does not make you weak. You are setting an example for them that when you offend someone you ask forgiveness. This is a life lesson that will serve them well. Your children will respect you for your honesty, as long as your apology is heartfelt and they see that you really do try to change your behavior.
But what if after confessing your sin the guilt comes back? These thoughts are not from God. The Bible tells us that God not only forgives our sin, but He forgets our sin! In Jeremiah 31:34 it says, “…For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more.”
Corrie ten Boom had this to say about the subject, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!'”
When thoughts of guilt assail you for something that you long ago confessed, remember that these thoughts do not come from God. Instead of dwelling on past regrets and mistakes, thank God for forgiving you of your sin. Ask Him to help you to continue to grow more Christ-like. Thank Him for His grace and learn to extend that same grace to those around you, especially your spouse and your children.
God does not want you to live in guilt over past sins. Jesus came to set us free from sin and guilt. You can joyfully press on in life secure in the knowledge of God’s forgiveness and grace. Phil 3:13, “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”