Today’s guest post is by our friend Kara Powell who has recently published The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family through her research with Fuller Youth Institute. We are so excited for this new resource that is written specifically for families who want to help their kids grow and develop a lasting faith. Here’s one thing that she has learned through her research:

“I’m not sure I’m a good person for you to interview. I’ve had to apologize to my daughters three times in the last week alone.”

Having completed a number of interviews already, I knew this dad was the perfect person to help me understand Sticky Faith. During our research for The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, a research grant enabled us to interview 50 parents that are especially effective in nurturing long-term faith in their kids. For myself and the team conducting the interviews, the power of parents apologizing to their kids was quickly becoming clear.

What separates Christianity from every other religion is grace. All other religions believe we reach God through obedience and behaviors; in Christianity, God reaches us through unmerited grace.

If we want our homes to drip with grace, we as parents need to be quick to apologize. Confessing our mistakes to our kids and asking them to forgive us not only builds closer family relationships, it also helps our kids experience the closeness of God’s tender mercies.

So thanks to our research, I’ve started saying two words more frequently to my kids. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the tone of voice I used when I asked you to empty the dishwasher.”
I’m sorry that I misunderstood the conflict you were having with your brother and jumped to an unfair conclusion.”
I’m sorry that I wasn’t sensitive enough to how tired you were from soccer.”

If you want to make your home a hub of grace, try the following:

1. Keep your personal antennae up for times when your own fatigue causes you to speak unkindly to your kids.
2. When you feel like you’ve wronged your kids, tell them that you’re sorry and ask for their forgiveness.
3. Make sure you are quick to extend forgiveness to your kids when they need to do the same.

According to our research, saying “I’m sorry” isn’t a sign of parental failure. It can be a bridge to greater family intimacy and faith.

Try it! As a parent, what have you said you’re sorry for lately? We’d love to hear your story!

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Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women to Watch”, Kara serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.