Where Do I Start?
Training your kids to fail forward is something that all imperfect parents can do. Once you have trained yourself to fail forward, your life becomes a living how-to lesson for your children. Remember, your kids will need some coaching and help along the way. They will not automatically fail forward. So when they make a mistake, there are some easy steps you can follow to make their recovery process a positive learning experience.
To begin, when your child makes a mistake, you must confront them in love. But you may argue, “I’m not a confronter.” Well, Jesus is our example. He confronted things, so while I have never called my children “brood of vipers” or “a faithless and perverse generation,” I do confront my children in love. Not one time in all the years I’ve been in church have I ever turned over a table and run somebody out of the church (I may have thought about it a couple of times, but that’s a whole different book). The point is we must not ignore a situation and hope it goes away. Confront it! Let your children know when they have messed up by confronting it. When you confront them, correct them in love. Correction involves explaining why they are in trouble and what they did wrong.
There was a father in a church I worked for in Jackson, Mississippi, who was amazed to find out that his son was always good in children’s church. At home, the son tested different types of behavior, but the consequences were always different. Sometimes he would be laughed at and told his behavior was funny, and other times he would get in trouble for it. But at church, this boy behaved because when he tested the rules, the consequences were always the same. He was a good guy, but he was one of the most confused kids that I knew. Keep confusion out of your home by confronting and correcting your children with consistency. In order to properly train your children, you must be willing to confront and correct on a constant basis, not just when you feel like it. Set the guidelines and stick to them.
When you correct your children, never correct them in anger. If necessary, give yourself some time to cool down before you correct them. Be sure that when you are correcting them, you give them the Word and let them know why this disagrees with the Word. Talk to them about their mistakes without lecturing. Let them know how you have made similar mistakes. This means you don’t just tell your kids about the time you knocked it out of the park. They also need to hear about how you reacted to striking out. Tell them about the mistake, and let them know you put your pants on one leg at a time like they do. Let your children know that you have been there, and you understand how they are feeling.
Once you have confronted your children, allow them to ask for forgiveness and repent. The greatest thing you can do is teach your kids how to confess with their mouth when they mess up. The Word is true; it says in I 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.” Remember, kids will learn this best when they see their role model, you, living it out first.
If they don’t repent, you need to forgive them, but handle the failure more severely. The best thing we can do is to teach our children how to repent. David was a man after God’s own heart, and we know that when he blew it (and he blew it a lot), he knew how to repent.