In my experience, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting is teaching my children about sin while not discouraging them.
While our firstborn was growing up, we were in church circles that placed an emphasis on teaching children about their sin nature and the consequences of sin. Sounds biblical and reasonable, right? However, the way this played out was to treat children like they were always being deceitful, always up to something, and couldn’t be trusted. Ever. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Psalm 58:3 quoted:
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
This use of Scripture rubbed my husband and I the wrong way, but at the time it seemed to make sense. Kids are inherently selfish. They lie to get their way or hide their mistakes. They refuse to eat what’s on their plate, go to sleep at a decent hour, and go potty on the toilet instead of in their pants. They’re sinners, and deserve to be treated as such. Because Revelation 21:8.
Then it got worse—there was an actual file in the pastor’s office marked with every mistake, every failure, brought up again and again by teachers and the pastor whenever there was trouble involving kids in the youth group.