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Do You Need to Ask Your Child to Forgive You?

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Are you opposed to the concept of spanking because you’ve seen spanking used abusively?

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A child who is disciplined unbiblically usually modifies his or her behavior enough to avoid more painful consequences, and then resolves to do whatever he or she wants to do when the parent is not watching. Thus, the improperly administered discipline serves to reinforce the child’s willfulness. In Article #18 of a 20-article series, Dr. Don Dunlap explores some of the reasons why this rebellion occurs.

Many people react negatively to the concept of spanking because they do not know of a single instance when the “rod of reproof” was applied to an unruly child in a biblical manner.


Perhaps their parents spanked them in anger when they were children, or they have friends and acquaintances who administer spankings inappropriately.


Spanking a child in anger will never lead him or her to repentance.

Even when parents follow biblical guidelines for spanking their children, they must remember that God alone is able to bring a child to genuine repentance. Although the rod of reproof accomplishes behavioral changes, no parent has the ability to cause a child to repent of his or her disobedience.

When a parent senses that a child’s attitude remains stubborn and defiant in the midst of discipline, he or she should cry out to God in prayer, asking the Lord to do a work of grace in the child’s heart while he or she administers the rod of reproof. Regardless of how long it takes, a parent should not consider his or her job done until the child demonstrates a humble spirit. No task is more worthy of a parent’s time and energy.

When we sin against our children, we must be quick to admit it and ask for forgiveness.


Children will react against the discipline of a parent who has wronged them. The parent should evaluate his or her own heart when a child refuses to repent. Has the parent accused the child falsely? Is the parent guilty of demonstrating an attitude of anger, rather than love? Did the parent attack the child’s character instead of addressing his or her wrong behavior?


If so, the parent should ask the child for forgiveness for sinning against him or her, before attempting to continue with any disciplinary measures. We should never allow pride to prevent us from admitting to our children when we are wrong. God resists the proud, but gives abundant grace to parents who are willing to humble themselves before their children.

Parents should also forgive their children for any offenses that they have committed against them. A parent must remember never again to bring up the child’s sin. Additionally, parents should not banish their children from their presence by employing such popularly held parenting techniques as making them go to their room, or giving them the silent treatment.

We are representatives of God’s love and forgiveness to our children. God never throws our past sins up to us, and He never abandons us when He disciplines us. Instead, He comforts and encourages us with His presence.

As loving parents, we want to make obedience attractive to our children. We should ask God for the strength and wisdom to help our children desire to obey their parents and the Lord Jesus Christ.



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