Parents are not perfect. We are human. We make mistakes. We get frustrated and yell when we shouldn’t. We tease and hurt our children’s feelings. We overreact, underreact, listen and then we don’t. Even the best of parents who are thoughtful and intentional in their actions make mistakes. We hope that our children will grow up, maybe have children of their own and realize we did the best we could. We hope they will forgive us. Perhaps, we can do more than hope. We may be able to teach our children about forgiveness and about our own humanness.
- When we are wrong, we need to sincerely apologize to our children. From the time they are very young, they need to see us admit when we are wrong, thereby acknowledging that we make mistakes. We need to say, “I’m sorry I should not have yelled. I was wrong” or “I was mad and I did the wrong thing with you.” Our children need to see us owning our errors in judgment or attitude so they know that we know there is no such thing as perfection.
- We need to forgive our children. When they cross our boundaries, children need to experience consequences. Then, when they have dealt with the result of their actions, we need to tell them that we know that everyone makes mistakes and we understand. We shouldn’t hold grudges, stop talking to them or otherwise continue to punish them in ways that are demeaning. Be who you will want your children to be when they become adults. Be forgiveness.
- We need to forgive our own parents. They are human, too. They were not perfect when we were young. Hopefully, like me, you had parents that did the best they knew how to do at the time. Hopefully, your parents did not willfully neglect you or treat you badly. They made mistakes but they were trying. If we do not forgive our parents, how can we expect our children to forgive us? Our children won’t have the most powerful example of forgiveness that exists – when you, a child, forgives the craziness of your own childhood. Bitterness and resentment breed more bitterness and resentment. Forgive your parents or don’t be surprised when your children don’t forgive you.
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