The week before my wedding, my dad and I were on a lunch date and he looked at me and said, “Deanna, is there anything you wish I would have done better as a parent? Anything I need to apologize for?” “Hmmm..” I thought for a moment, “I wish you would have put me in sports. You saw I had musical talent, so that is all you encouraged me toward.” He looked at me with kind eyes and said, “You’re right. I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” I laughed a little. Thinking through 21 years of growing up, and my one complaint was that my parents encouraged me toward my gifting and didn’t encourage me toward what was clearly not my gifting? I’d say we were doing alright.

The profound thing in that lunchtime moment was that the question my dad asked me was absolutely, completely normal in our home. My dad and mom would always check in with us. They were always seeking to ‘right’ any ‘wrongs.’ I have such beautiful memories of my dad or mom walking into my room, sitting on my bed, and saying, “I’m so sorry for how I reacted in___________situation today. Will you forgive me?” Or “I didn’t handle__________fairly today. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me?” There was no pride.

Today, as a mom of four, I now marvel at the incredible display of honesty, intentionality, and humility my dad and mom parented with. When I think of the gifts I want to pass down to my kids, these rank on the top of the list.

This past week my husband and I called a family meeting with our kids. We had been sensing tension in our home and were definitely in need of a re-boot. We sat down as a family and Jon and I started out by apologizing. We confessed the areas where we were not being the best of who we are (impatient, frustration turning to anger, overreacting, etc.). We gave specific instances. We asked for their forgiveness. Then we talked about the tone of our home and what we were seeing in the kids’ interactions with each other and us. The kids joined the conversation and talked about where they thought they could improve—even apologizing to each other and us. We set out a new plan, reminded ourselves of who we want to be, and then we prayed together, asking God to help us to live that out.

Our kids need to know we are not perfect. They need to know that we need forgiveness just as much as they do. They need to know that when they mess up, we are a safe place to come to and confess it. Because we understand the desperation for grace. To parent with humility is to reflect the example of God. Jesus, who knew no sin, humbled Himself—as an infant child and all the way to the cross! Humility through sacrifice is a beautiful way for us to experience Jesus. As a parent, it means laying down your pride. As a perfect God, it meant laying down His life. Wow.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. And you.

Maybe in a family meeting in your living room. Or maybe at a coffee shop a week before your daughter’s wedding.

It’s never too late. And it’s never too early. One person at a time. One relationship at a time.

They will know we are Christians by our perfection always being right love.