Do we really believe and understand the paradox of our children. They are made in the image of God. And they are dreadfully sinful. J.C. Ryle states it this way:

The fairest child, who has entered life this year and become the sunbeam of a family, is not, as his mother perhaps fondly calls him, a little “angel” or a little “innocent,” but a little “sinner.” Alas! As that infant boy or girl lies smiling and crowing in its cradle, that little creature carries in its heart the seeds of every kind of wickedness! Only watch it carefully, as it grows in stature and its mind develops, and you will soon detect in it an incessant tendency to that which is bad, and a backwardness to that which is good. You will see in it the buds and germs of deceit, evil temper, selfishness, self–will, obstinacy, greediness, envy, jealousy, passion, which, if indulged and let alone, will shoot up with painful rapidity. Who taught the child these things? Where did he learn them? The Bible alone can answer these questions! Of all the foolish things that parents say about their children there is none worse than the common saying: “My son has a good heart at the bottom. He is not what he ought to be, but he has fallen into bad hands. Public schools are bad places. The tutors neglect the boys. Yet he has a good heart at the bottom.” The truth, unhappily, is diametrically the other way. The first cause of all sin lies in the natural corruption of the boy’s own heart, and not in public schools.

Notice that last line: The first cause of all sin lies in the natural corruption of the boy’s own heart, and not in public schools (HCB – or other outside influences.) As we shepherd our children, let us start with that presupposition – the first cause of all sin lies not in something outside of our children but something inside our children. The Bible calls this the flesh.