There’s a lot of bad shame out there, so how can Christian parents help free their children from unnecessary shame? Join AMBrewster as he opens God’s Word for the answers.
Check out 5 Ways to Support TLP.
Click here for our free Parenting Course!
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Follow AMBrewster on Twitter.
Follow us on Pinterest.
Subscribe on YouTube.
Need some help? Write to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
To download this document, please right-click and select "Save Image As."
Welcome to the 4th part of our Children and Shame series. I pray these episodes have been a blessing and challenge to you.
I’m very much looking forward to today’s episode because it’s all about rescuing our children from destructive shame. No doubt, the vast majority of people who hear this will agree with what I have to say, even if they disagreed with the Bible’s view of Good Shame.
But before we jump into today’s study, I want to thank Lisa for making today’s episode possible. It’s been such a blessing to thank at least one (if not two, three, or four) people on every episode for sponsoring the show.
But I will say that while we have a good number of regular supporters and Patrons, there still is much more that we’d like to do and so much more assistance we could use. As a listener-supported ministry, we rely completely on your gifts to continue making these free parenting resources.
Lisa has committed to supporting TLP on a monthly basis, but there are many ways you can be a blessing to Truth.Love.Parent. If you’d like to learn more, you can click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode. There you can learn about our mission, goals, and the kind of assistance that’s the most helpful.
Of course there’s one really easy way you can help, you can Rate, Review, and Recommend TLP by clicking the stars and leaving a review on iTunes and Facebook. It only takes a couple minutes tops, but it’s such a blessing to us.
Maybe you should consider it!
Anyway, let’s transition to a discussion concerning Bad Shame and how to protect our kids from it.
Don’t forget our free episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com.
And, if you haven’t Liked us on Facebook yet, you’re missing out on some amazing free parenting resources from respected Christian voices from all over the world. In fact, recently we shared an article that perfectly compliments what we’re going to discuss today.
You should definitely get connected with us on social media and redeem your news feeds.
Okay, so the format for the rest of the show is going to be to discuss the different forms of Bad Shame and then — at the end — give some practical ways we can help our children if they’re experiencing said shame.
This list is going to grow from the most obvious to the most counterintuitive. It’s going to move from the Bad Shame your kids will receive from the world to the shame they might even receive at home.
And then we’ll discuss biblical principles you can use with your kids who are being tempted to experience any kind of Bad Shame.
Here we go. Let’s start with the obvious one that I hope isn’t happening in your home, but is definitely happening outside of it.
1. Shame that tempts our kids to feel bad for doing right or for not doing wrong.
Your child’s peers and even their siblings will often get mad at your child for doing right. Telling a teacher when someone has cheated, refusing to go to a movie that wouldn’t please the Lord, not giving into a significant-other’s requests for inappropriate physical contact, and the like are just a few examples of the types of things about which the world is going to shame your kids.
As they get older and — if they embrace a Christ-honoring lifestyle — there’s nothing about which people won’t try to shame them. The single most discriminated against group in the United States is the straight, white, Christian, male.
The world regularly takes every opportunity it can to make such people feel bad for being what they are. The same is true for anyone who takes a biblical approach to homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, socialism, creation, and the like.
My point is, your kids are going to encounter people trying to burden them with Bad Shame, but they don’t have to experience it — meaning that they don’t have to actually bear that burden.
I know I said I’d share this at the end, but let me give you just one passage right now to illustrate what I mean.
I Peter 3:13-16 tells us, “13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?”
Did you hear how Peter frames that? Peter is suggesting that if we are zealous for good, no one can harm us. This is not referring to physical harm — that happens all the time. That happened to Christ Himself.
He’s referring — in part — to the spiritual and emotional harm that comes from Bad Shame. Let’s continue . . .
“14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed."
This is where Peter acknowledges that physical suffering is a very real thing. James makes the same observation, but James says that those physical difficulties and temptations should produce joy in the Christian. That doesn’t sound anything like shame.
And that’s what Peter is saying as well.
Continuing on . . .
“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,”
Here again Peter says there’s no reason to bear that shame.
So, he says . . .
“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (I prefer the King James translation here where it says, “with meekness and fear”) 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Persecution and tribulation is going to come. But we are not the ones who should feel shame when this happens. Peter tells us that our persecutors should experience Good Shame because they are sinning, but we don’t have to experience any of that.
In fact, Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
That doesn’t sound like shame at all.
But, keep in mind, that the prerequisite to all of this is that we are living a holy, righteous life that glorifies God. When our kids are experiencing shame, it is extremely important that you try to determine — as best you can — whether or not your kids truly have been obeying God by doing the right things the right way for the right reasons in the right power.
We never want to assume that our kids were in the right if they were in fact in the wrong. We don’t want to free them from the necessary burden of Good Shame because we were deluded into thinking they had been guilt-free in the situation.
But that’s a freebie, we are focusing specifically on the times when you kids are being tempted to experience Bad Shame for their righteous choices.
By the way, this can come from inside the child as easily as it can from outside.
Okay, that was a long point . . .
2. Shame that tempts our kids to feel bad for not knowing something.
We introduced this concept last time, and — unlike the previous point — this is much easier for younger kids to experience.
This shame occurs when someone tries to make your kids feel stupid for not knowing something. This includes not knowing information but also not knowing how to do something.
Kids will try to make your child feel stupid for getting an answer wrong in class. Your child doesn’t need to feel that shame.
Older children — including siblings — may try to belittle your kids for not knowing how to swing a bat, ride a bike, change the oil, or solve an algebra problem. There’s absolutely no reason they should feel bad for not knowing how to do something they were never taught.
Of course, if they were taught it . . . repeatedly . . . and still don’t care to remember how . . . well, that’s a different story and may involve the Good Shame that accompanies the Reproof Stage as we confront our kids about their attitudes or work ethic.
But we parents need to realize that we sometimes fall into shaming our kids for not knowing something. We often expect our children to clean their rooms the way we would. Maybe that’s appropriate, maybe not. The point is, it’s really easy to judge people for not knowing how to do something as well as we do without realizing they have no idea.
Let me share one easy way to help your child out from under the weight of this shame. This really only applies to this one issue, so I’ll share it now as opposed to the end:
When your child is being tempted to feel Bad Shame for not knowing something, teach them. Assuming the content is righteous and beneficial and assuming their participation in the activity is age-appropriate, give them the info they need to be in the know.
Of course, this isn’t the main way to fix the problem, but it’s a beneficial step.
Also, like the first point, a child can lay this shame on their own shoulder just as easily as anyone else can.
Moving on . . .
3. Shame that tempts our kids to feel bad about not worshipping something.
This is a HUGE one. This happens all of the time from nearly everyone in your kids’ lives.
The bully at school will try to make your kid feel bad for sitting in her seat. The assumption is that your child needs to care more about what the bully wants than anything else.
A sibling might try to make the other feel bad for taking the bigger cookie.
A parent might use Bad Shame because the child inconvenienced the adult.
This is one with which I struggle quite frequently at Victory Academy. I create a planned program for the day that tries to accomplish everything it needs to for 14 people in my house as well as 8 different families, and then one kid decides to train-wreck the whole thing by having a meltdown. It’s very easy for me — in those situations — to want to deal with the kid that makes him feel bad — in part — because he got in my way.
This happens nearly every time a mother says something like, “Stop being so loud! You’re driving me crazy!”
In that moment, you’ve asked your child to worship you. If they’re not interested in worshipping God in that moment, what makes you think that they want to worship you? So, we use Bad Shame to make them feel really bad for inconveniencing us.
But no one should have to bear that weight. So, what do we do?
Well, again, I’ll share one practical example now as well as more later: you can help your kids by not putting them into this situation yourself. It’s one thing to help your child out from under the burden that someone else is putting on them, but it’s something else entirely to do it to them yourself. Stop it. Give your kids a huge break by not pouring shame on them for not worshipping you.
But there’s more to say later to help when someone else is throwing that shame at them or they’re piling it on themselves.
But here’s the last category . . .
4. Shame that tempts our kids to feel bad to an inappropriate degree.
Last time we talked about a child who killed a frog experiencing the same level of guilt that he would had he intentionally killed a person.
This can come from the outside and the inside, but it’s clearly a weight that is inappropriate to bear. The shame doesn’t fit the sin.
Okay, so what does God’s Word say about how we can free our kids from Bad Shame?
1. We can free our kids by not laying Bad Shame on them.
Ephesians 6:4, “[Parents], do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
I believe laying Bad Shame on our kids is one example of how we can provoke them to anger. It’s a sin to use Bad Shame; we need to stop doing it.
2. We can free our kids by teaching them what God says about Bad Shame.
Take them these passages:
Psalm 25:1-3 and 20, “1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”
Psalm 37:19-20, "The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; 19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.”
Romans 9:33, “as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.””
There is so much freedom that comes from knowing that our Creator-Savior-King doesn’t want us bearing Bad Shame if we’re living a life that pleases Him.
Free your kids by pointing them to Truth. In fact, this point is going to be part of every other practical application. And this should’t surprise us because Jesus has already told us that the Truth will set us free.
If you want to free your kids from the burden of Bad Shame, Truth will have to be a part of it.
That’s why number 3 is also so powerful.
3. We can free our kids by helping them know God better.
If God isn’t strong enough to help me, if He isn’t loving enough to help me, if He isn’t trustworthy enough to help me, then giving in to the overpowering weight of Bad Shame seems inevitable.
These situations are hopeless unless you truly understand the awesomeness of God.
Free your kids from their Bad Shame by turning their eyes off the storms and waves and focusing on Christ.
Isaiah 26:3 reads, “[God keeps] him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in [God].”
Peace is the result of focusing on God, not shame.
4. We can free our kids by teaching them what the Bible says about how they should live.
As your child understands what the Bible says about God and shame and life, they should be able to see that God really does have the better plan.
Even when things are hard, there is peace that comes from living a life for the honor and glory of the Father.
Consider Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We are called to lay aside sin and run this life in a way that pleases God — just like Jesus did who was horribly murdered for being God. And through it all He despised the shame.
That word “despise” means to consider it to be nothing. Jesus knew that He was doing the will of the Father, so all the Bad Shame that was poured on Him was insignificant and unimportant to Him.
We can free our kids by helping them experience the joy that comes from a life lived for God.
And 5. We can free our kids by teaching them how to apologize for Truth.
The previous advice dealt with teaching our kids Truth. This one takes it to another step by helping them know it, understand it, and live it, but also be able to help other do the same.
“Apologetics” is using reasoned arguments to justify something. There are a ton of amazing apologetic ministries and individuals out there. Ravi Zacharias, Answers in Genesis, Natasha Crain, Lee Strobel, J. Warner Wallace, and The Mama Bears are just a few.
Recently the Mama Bears put this great image on Instagram. It taught parents how to “ROAR like a mother.” The acronym ROAR stood for:
Recognize the message.
Argue for a healthier approach.
That’s what I’m advocating here. In order to teach our kids how to be apologists, they need to know the Truth and recognize the lies. They need to exercise the discernment necessary to interpret the situation. And they need to be able to argue for a biblical approach.
This is exemplified in two passages in particular. One of them we looked at earlier: I Peter 3:14-16 tells us, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with meekness and fear16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
And the second passage is Titus 2:7-8, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
And it’s interesting to note that not only will people in that position have no reason to feel shame, their opponents will be the ones to experience Good Shame for opposing God’s Truth.
Now, I know we went long today, and there’s so much more we could say, but let me tie it all up here at the end.
Whether your child is being tempted to experience Bad Shame for living righteously or for not knowing something or for not worshipping something other than God or for over-exaggerating their guilt, you can help set them free by doing the following.
And that will be a child who doesn’t crumble under the weight of Bad Shame.
Listen, I know we sped through this, so if you have any specific questions for your family you can reach us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
And join us next time as we wrap up this study of Children and Shame by comparing modern ideologies to the eternally relevant truths in Scripture that are guaranteed to help us and our families have spiritual success in this life and the one to come.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
Join The TLP Family and receive email updates when we publish new articles and episodes.
Subscribe to Our Podcast