Giving forgiveness is both difficult and beautiful. When we forgive, we set healing in motion. The opposite deepens wounds and disconnection. Forgiveness requires children to set their pride aside and lower their defenses. It could be something as simple as name-calling, but to a child this offense causes deep hurts that are not easily forgiven.
Forgiveness is a reoccurring action in our lifetime, and it is important for children to understand this. We will have to forgive minor and major offenses from strangers as well as those closest to us throughout our lives. If a child can learn forgiveness at a young age, they will be more likely to live a life full of healthy relationships. As parents, we have to help in teaching children forgiveness.
Children also need to know the consequences of choosing not to forgive someone. They need to be made aware of the damage their unforgiveness can do not only to their relationship with their offender, but also with themselves.
Some Ways to Empower Our Children to practice forgiveness:
1. Sibling Arguments
All siblings bicker and fight. This provides the perfect training ground for giving and receiving grace. Kids need to learn reconciliation. Train them how to do it and be consistent in reinforcing the principles of forgiveness with even the smallest issues.
2. Unconditional Forgiveness
Teach your kids to forgive regardless of the other person’s response. What matters is that your child has feelings that need to be released. Unconditionally forgive even when it’s not reciprocated.
3. it’s Not about Being Right
When you forgive someone, it should never be about being right. It’s about the relationship being right. Teach your kids to care more about that.
4. No Stipulations
By placing stipulations on our forgiveness, we are not truly forgiving. “If you make my bed for the next week I will forgive you.” That’s extortion, not forgiveness. Forgiveness is given without expectations or conditions.
5. Give It Time
We can’t make our children forgive someone. If we pressure them to say something when they don’t mean it, nothing gets solved. Explain the importance and the benefits of forgiving, however, the actual act must come from their heart and not our demands. Give it time.
6. Teach Perspective
We tend to only see our side of an issue. We need to teach our kids to be able to see things from the other side. Our side is only part of the story. Forgiving is much easier when we know the whole story and not just half of it.
7. Don’t Be Held Back
What do you gain by holding a grudge? Feelings of resentment keep us from moving forward. We end up stuck in emotions from past experiences. Bitterness lurks below the surface ready to rear its ugly head. Forgiveness releases it and gives us a clean slate for new experiences and emotions.
8. The Inside Eventually Comes Pouring Out
If you are filled bitterness, then that’s what you’ll give others. You can’t get clean water from a dirty source. Fill your heart and mind with peace and forgiveness, so you’ll be ready to pour that into others.
9. The Golden Rule
“Treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves.” Ask your kids how they would want someone to respond when they did something wrong. They would want to be forgiven. Then tell them to do likewise.