Children and Shame - Sarah Mae
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Children and Shame

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

She wiggles her toes into the “comfiest place on earth” (between my knees) and we cozy up to each other to talk about the day.

We giggle and chat and I ask her questions. I feel a prodding in my spirit, so I ask, “Is there anything you need to tell me?”

She hesitates.

“No, mommy.”

But I can tell there is something. So I dig gently.

“Baby, you know mama is on your team, right? Nothing you could ever say will make me love you any less. You are safe with me.”

She looks at me with large eyes, unsure if what I’m saying is true.

“There is something, but I’m afraid to tell you.”

“Darling, I will never discipline you for confessing to me or telling me something you need to be free of. I want you to trust me. I’m here for you, okay? You can tell me.”

I can see it. Shame. She sits up, covers her face, and just keeps repeating, “I’m so scared you’re going to be mad at me.”

She’s six, and my comforting words barely break through her fear. Her unfounded fear. I am wide open to be arms of grace, but she balls up and covers her nervousness between giggles and sad eyes.

I take her hand and tell her again that I’m on her side.

She speaks into the pillow that is over her face. She tells me her secret. And then,

she cries.

And I hold her and I tell her how much I love her. I tell her that I did the same thing when I was her age, and she uncovers her face and looks at me with surprise. “You did?!” “Yep. And I didn’t like it either.”

Confession is good for the spirit. We smile and hold each other in grace. We pray. We kick shame out the door.

I’m her mama, and He’s our Father, and shame is not invited into our family. 

We cozy up again to giggle and chat some more.

We are unveiled, and we are


 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

How do you try and guard against shame in your children?

Love, SM

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  • Christin

    Absolutely beautiful. Confession is a soul cleanser and forgiveness a healer. Thank you for such a beautiful example. 

  • Erin @ My Mommy World

    What a sweet story!  I have a 6 year-old as well, and I can totally imagine her doing the same thing.  Maybe we need to have more cuddle and talk time 🙂

  • Lisa Petrik

    I’ve never looked at Heb. 4:16 as instruction for relating to my kids…but this makes me take a whole ‘nother look at it!

  • Kristine McGuire

    I remember moments like these with my daughters. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful reminder of what grace means and how we can model it for our children so they may understand God better.

  • Pamela

    Beautiful moments.  If we don’t offer grace to our children how will they ever know how to experience God’s grace freely offered.  You are a wise momma.

  • Rachel

    Today I am thankful for more experienced mom’s sharing their wisdom via the internet. Thank you for this story! I want to tuck it away and remember on the day I need it. When I think through this as a mom, it makes me realize that I don’t need to hide under the shame of my sin- if I would readily forgive and embrace my little girl, how much more  is my Heavenly Father waiting to do the same??? Funny how this should be so obvious, but its when I see it through a mother’s eyes it suddenly comes to life.  

    • Sarah Mae


  • kjoslyn78

    i love this

  • Jeannine

    Beautiful example of motherly grace.  I have a 6-year-old boy who acts much the same way when he has something to confess.  I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your words the next time he needs encouragement that it is safe to confess.

    Thank you!

    • Sarah Mae

      Please, borrow away!

  • Bob Hamp

    Hey Sarah Mae, that is some pretty good theology right there. Nicely done nicely written!

    • Sarah Mae

      Thank you, Bob! 🙂

  • Teresa

    I love this. 

  • Jlstockbridge

    There is no shame in being tempted, but yielding to temptation should produce shame in the heart of a believer.  I’ve always understood shame as evidence that the Holy Spirit is working on a heart that needs to confess sin.  If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for those who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  It’s not just eternal condemnation that we’re free from, but also from the barbs of the accuser; they may prick, but they can’t stick thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.  That’s good news!

    • Sarah Mae

      I guess I see it differently. I see shame as the enemy’s way of keeping us away from God, as opposed to the Holy Spirit speaking to us, or our conscience speaking when we do something wrong and so we feel bad. In the case of the Holy Spirit or our conscience, we go before the throne of grace and confess and receive forgiveness. In the case of shame, we stay away from the throne of grace fearing we’ll be rejected or found out. We’re already found out, and Jesus chose to love us anyway. 

      So no, I don’t think shame is to ever be a part of the believer’s life. A conscience and the Holy Spirit? Absolutely. 🙂

      • Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D

         I really like that explanation 🙂

  • Blooms Bugs

    Beautiful post. I need to keep it in mind as my toddler grows. Having children keep secrets from you for the reason of shame can have really damaging consequences. You handled it beautifully.

    • Sarah Mae

      THank you, and I agree. I want my children to know that they can always come to me, but more importantly, that they can always go to God.

  • Sharon

    This  reminds me of when I was a kid and I asked my Mom if I could wear a necklace to school that my Grandma had given her.  She said no.  But, I snuck it out of the house anyways. Well, it ended up breaking and falling off my neck and getting lost.  I confessed to my Mom what had happened.  And she prayed with me on the spot thanking the Lord that I’d been honest with her.   I am so thankful that  I had that kind of Mom.  Now I strive to be that  kind of Mom, too.

    • Sarah Mae

      That is such a beautiful story!

  • Missy

    How beautiful! 
    What a wonderful example of grace you have shown to your daughter. 

  • Jessica

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m going to be remembering this for future conversations I have with my children.

  • Angie Thieszen

    This is lovely.  Exactly my heart for my daughter as well as my two boys and my baby girl we are adopting.  I pray I can have those same type of conversations…Truth, Truth, Truth and ONLY Truth as much as I humanly can.  May God give me that intuition!

  • Michelle

     I teared up when I read this. I use to say the same things to my children when they were little, (well, not those exact awesome words:) How blessed your children are to be able to trust their hearts with you!

    Keep giving that shame a good swift kick. Not the godly sorrow kind that leads to repentance, of course, but the kind that leaves souls shackled in silence and fear. The kind I was never free from until I met Christ.

    You go, sweet mama!

  • Kara @ The Chuppies

    I love the come-along-side of this…
    We are sinners.
    We mess up.
    We need forgiveness.
    WE need a savior.
    I so want ours to come to us quickly…for the fellowship to be restored quickly.
    I know that is what He wants too.

    Beautiful post…

  • Sundi Jo Graham

    Though I don’t have children, I have always struggled with shame, especially when I was holding the secrets of my childhood. But Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” 

    Love how Jesus loves me through that verse. 

  • dukeslee

    Sarah Mae, 

    “I am on your side. … I am on your team.”

    Life-giving mama words. Just beautiful. 

  • Charise

    I’ve only recently realized the need for this dialog. Strange but true. Now I’m purposing to communicate to my babies this very concept of love and acceptance in confession. Through your blog entry I realize I need to be more careful not to shame them as they come to grips with their sin. Thank you so much. 

  • Juliesilander

    This is beautiful.  We have 5 children, and our parenting has shifted much through the years.  One of the more recent “mantras” that I’ve adopted – When “I’m sorry mom, will you please forgive me?” is offered by one of my children, my response is “Oh honey, yes!  I LOVE to forgive you” with a hug as the dot of the exclamation point.  I want my children to associate repentance and confession with excessive joy.  Because that how our Father feels 🙂

  • Jen

    I was brought up by shame, guilt, and condemnation. Even though I have found freedom in Christ, my husband treats me and my children in the same way I was brought up. I find myself following the ways of my parents and my husband instead of Christ and I feel guilty and ashamed, but don’t seem to be able to break free of this cycle.

    I read posts like this and it makes me feel guilty and ashamed that I can’t seem to talk to my children in this way, the words are just not there. I have no clue what to say or do that would be “Christ-like.” I am just left with a feeling that I am not a good mother or even a good Christian. I “should” know what to say and do because I follow Christ and have the Holy Spirit within me, but I still just say and do what I have been taught. 

    I want more for my children. I want to show them grace, mercy, understanding…so why can’t I? I just don’t know…it is so solidly ingrained in me.

    • Sarah Mae

      Jen, I understand, I do. Try and just speak the words you wish would have been spoken to you, or if you don’t know what to say, just hold your little one and pray in your head. The enemy is using shame and guilt to keep you in bondage. You are free. You are free to walk and live in grace. You are perfect right now if you know Him – you are perfect for eternity according to heaven! Hebrews 10:14. The Holy Spirit is working in you, I promise you that. And the words will come. 

      Also, pray for your husband. Every day. Pray that the Holy Spirit would bring him to his knees and change Him, transform him. Pray for the grace to love him, but don’t give him the authority that only Christ has over you. Only God can tell you who you are, and friend, you are loved, and you are beautiful because of Jesus. 

      I’m praying for you today.

  • Shawna

    This was a beautiful reminder.  My 6 year old is having some bed-wetting issues.  Although it isn’t a “sin” issue, I have gotten a bit annoyed with the washing of the sheets all the time and her not getting up or remembering to go before bed.  The last few days she has snuck downstairs not wanting to see me right away in the morning.  It broke my heart.  I need to show her grace like my heavenly Father shows me grace. 
    Thank you. 

  • Traci Michele

    so so beautiful! Yes, our children need to know that they can come to us and confess and that we will accept and love them no matter what.  Thank you for sharing this!  Love, Traci Michele

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