sad little boy looking out of the window with his arms crossed

3 Ways We Allow Sin to Grow in Our Children’s Hearts

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As hard as it is to admit, sometimes we are the cause of our children’s failure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we push them to make bad decisions or that we should feel guilty when they falter. 

What I am saying is that sometimes our behavior, commitment (or lack thereof), and actions can be the breeding grounds for sin in our children.

We forget that those little eyes see us, and those little ears hear us, and those little hearts and minds are so very impressionable.

Could we be cultivating sin in our children’s hearts?

Remember, you are among friends here, so you’ll face no judgment from me. I’m walking this walk right along with you. Exposing my own heart, and sharing my own troubles.

We’re all here to help one another live lives that honor the Lord and raise children who do the same, even if it hurts a little.

Young Girl with blonde har and braids holding a red sad face photo.

3 Ways We Allow Sin to Grow in Our Children’s Hearts

1.  We allow sin to grow in our children by ignoring “small” sin.

Tears filled her eyes as she recounted stories of a boyfriend she disapproved of, broken curfews, and drinking.  Her daughter’s rebellion threatened to tear the family apart.  

Adding more cream to my coffee, I listened as she struggled to understand how things went so terribly wrong.

I recalled a time when she gave little thought to a few missed chores.  Even though her daughter’s disobedience was clear, she blew it off as just being a kid. “Kids are like that.” she would say over a steaming cup of coffee.

Now, she had bigger fish to fry.  She longed for the days when all her daughter did was refuse to do her chores and talked back from time to time.  Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if that is where it all began.

Daughter with smartphone in hands ignoring her mom, indifference, puberty age

Tree roots.  The plumber explained how the roots would continue to grow and expand causing more pressure on the pipes eventually leading to a total collapse of the pipe.  It is a problem easily left unchecked until damage occurs since the pipes are underground.  

The only way to prevent the issue is to schedule a regular cleaning.  To rid the current problem, the roots must be cut out.

Overgrowth of sin in the heart is a lot like tree roots.  At first, the problem goes unnoticed until one day it threatens to collapse the heart and crush the spirit.

When tree roots begin to grow, a sign is a slow-flowing drain.  It doesn’t seem like a problem at first.  If anything it is an annoyance easily ignored for the time being.

You simply shake your head and move on knowing that at some point it will require your attention. I wonder how many times my friend shook her head and let kids be kids.

I wonder how many times I do.

We cannot see the impact so we assume we have another day. Yet just under the surface, a seed was planted and there in the dark, being fertilized by a lack of discipline, it grows and takes root in the heart.

Every act of rebellion, no matter the size, should be handled swiftly and purposefully.   

Mixed race mommy comforting upset little cute girl.

2. We allow sin to grow in our children when we are an example of unrepentant Sin

“Just say we are going out of town. “

She felt lying was easier than explaining why she didn’t want her son to attend the birthday party.

“Let me check my calendar… I think we have something going on.”

She had no intention of checking her calendar.

“I didn’t do it. Sally did it.”

She felt her heart crack as this lie came from her child’s lips.  Where did he learn to lie so easily?

Kids observe every action we take.  They pick up on inconsistencies and hypocritical behavior, and not only call it as they see it, but they mimic it.  

When we provide a stumbling block for our children to trip and fall over we invite sin to grow in their hearts.

Sad little boy looking out window with text overlay "3 ways we allow sin to shape our children"

We all fall short of the glory of God and we all have the ability to repent and be forgiven.  When we sin, we need to own up to it and apologize to our children for dishonoring God.  

The lesson we teach is humility as we ask for forgiveness and show actions of repentance.  We are fooling ourselves if we think we hid our sin from our kids. 

Here, when we don’t openly address the sin and then move to openly “mend” it, we risk never teaching our children to be responsible for our words, and our actions; but even more importantly, that there are consequences for sin.

If sin is not shown to be a departure from the presence of God then will they understand they need a savior?

Young, angry sisters arguing with arms crossed and their stressed mom sitting on a sofa in the background

3.  We allow sin to grow in our children when we don’t take time to nip it.

“Ok, fine….just watch what you want for now…I need only a few minutes to catch up.”

“Stop bothering me.  Just get along…I need to get dinner ready.”

 Hands running through disheveled hair and a throat-tightening by the noose of stress,  she knows something has to give.  Raising her hands in frustration, what gives is telling her child to stop calling her brother a name for the millionth time.

 Overflowing laundry baskets, a sink filled with dirty dishes, ten unreturned calls from clients, and an inbox filled with urgent emails.  The battle for our attention and energy is waged daily.  When what is urgent wins then what is important loses.  

Bogged down by the day to day tasks we often find ourselves too exhausted to handle one more thing.  

Can’t the kids just stop fighting?  

Why can’t we get through a store without a tantrum?  

Can’t they just go to bed without all the interruptions!

We cannot take one more intrusion.  Yet, the intrusion is not what it appears.  A child in need of spiritual guidance or discipline is the work of motherhood.  

Mom with arms around upset teenage daughter comforting her.

If children were perfect they would not need mothering.  

Mothers train character, mold minds, and equip soldiers for Christ.  Yes, we also run the practical aspects of the home such as providing clean clothing and dinner, and we feel we failed if the day ends with dirty dishes and crumbs on the floor.  

No, my friend, the day fails when the day ends with unpruned sin and chaos brewing in the home.  Dishes can wait.  Dinner can be put on hold.  The business of guiding young hearts for God’s glory cannot wait nor be put on hold.

Stop running the race and run the marathon.  The prizes at the finishing line are much greater.  

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Are you allowing sin to grow in your child’s heart?

Friend, I’ve been that mom. And to my shame, there are exhausting days that defeat me still… until I lift my hands up to the Lord in prayer.

Yes, I’ve been the mom who overlooked “small” sin. I have been a poor example and I have been too exhausted to engage in character training.

Yes, I have been there and I suspect all of us have at one point or another.

In love, I want to recognize when we allow these things so don’t allow it to grow. I am still not perfect.

Mistakes follow me around like a stray cat, but having an understanding of how I allow sin to grow in my children’s hearts has given me a new perspective and renewed my resolve.


  1. Julie Cunningham says:

    So good, thank you!

  2. Thank you. I needed this reminder.

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