We can no more be perfect parents than we can be perfect human beings. The task of raising kids in a fast-paced world is infinitely complex, and life itself takes a toll on our good intentions. But kids are resilient, and they usually manage to turn out rather well. Remember that the Creator in the Garden of Eden also had "children" who were rebellious. In that instance, Adam and Eve had no television, pornography, bad peers, or other unsavory influences to lead them astray. And yet they were headstrong and went their own way. It is the nature of mankind. What I am saying is that it would be a mistake for you to wallow in guilt for everything your children do wrong.
Kids are exposed to many harmful influences today. It is impossible to shield them from everything negative. We do the best we can to guide them down today's River of Culture and try to keep them from drowning. To blame yourself for everything disappointing that you see in your children is not biblical, not reasonable, and not fair. On the other hand, it is inappropriate for parents to take the credit for everything good in their children. Each individual is a free moral agent who is able to make independent decisions.
Some of those choices turn out to be good and others bad, but you are not to blame for them all.
Ezekiel 18:2-4 says: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: 'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father, as well as the son—both alike, belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."
What this Scripture is telling us is that there is no such thing as "generational sin." Each person is responsible for his or her own choices and behavior. Parents can try to teach moral principles to their children, but ultimately the accountability passes to the progeny.
As a dad, whatever you did right or wrong in the past is done. That record is in the books. Lay it to rest. Ask the Lord to override your shortcomings and failings, and to work to accomplish His purposes in their hearts and lives.
Continue to show love to them, and when your advice is asked for, give it thoughtfully. But do not let the demon of guilt ride heavily on your shoulders. Your job now is to pray earnestly for the spiritual welfare of your children.
From Dr. Dobson's book Dads & Daughters.