Q&A: What if your kids knew you before you were Christians?

A member of one of our online programs asked, “What if you were parents before you were Christians, and your oldest son had to witness some terrible emotional events between family members?”

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The most fundamental truth about mankind after Eden is that there is none righteous, no, not one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:10,23)  None of us are perfect, and our kids are well aware of that. Of course you look back on your misdeeds and sinful behavior from before you were saved, and you probably cringe–especially if you think your actions shamed you in the eyes of your children.

But the fact is that when God applies Christ’s obedience and sacrifice to our account, He’s taken care of those things. 

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west, 
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children, 
So the LORD pities those who fear Him, 
For He knows our frame,
He remembers that we are dust.  (Psalm 103:11-14)

Do you feel like your past somehow disqualifies you from teaching God’s truth to your child?  Don’t. God’s moral authority doesn’t rest on our personal piety — it’s the other way around, and any good in us is simply a gift of God’s grace! What’s more, God appointed you to be this child’s parents, and placed this child in your particular family – with all its problems.

RRM Kids Knew Us Before Christian

In fact, your early experience means you can approach the task of parenting with humility and wisdom.  You know what a bad lifestyle looks like, you’ve experienced how bad it can be, so you can warn with the hard won lessons you endured. It’s balanced with humility, because you realize that you have been guilty of these things before Christ purified you.

Because you had a rough start, you can demonstrate what repentance looks like–even if your “old man” shows up and you slip into old, sinful behaviors.

And because he witnessed the conflict and turmoil of your old life, your son can testify to the difference which Christ makes in a family.

We have family members who lived many years in rebellion against God–drunkenness, anger, abusive speech, profanity–and experienced God’s grace and cleansing in later life. Those who met them “after” were amazed at family stories of “before” — but we are encouraged by their example and praise the God who provides all the grace for all of us, sinners who need it!

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Hal and Melanie

For more on parenting from a Christ-centered perspective, get our award-winning book, Raising Real Men below or click here to learn more.