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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teaching our child to be good at forgiving....

There is another side to apologizing parents often forget to teach our children and since we lead by example ~
as parents we need to DEMONSTRATE this final stage of apologizing to our children...

Please allow me to share with you the single disciplinary action my father executed every time we were punished that  allowed discipline to lead to relationship and not rebellion within both my older sibling and myself.

Growing up my father was a strict and loving disciplinarian, he always established the rules, the consequences for not following them, then firmly and swiftly dispelled whatever disciplinary actions were appropriate when we committed the infractions.  My first and lasting memories are of my formative years b4 I hit the teens...

After the punishment time was over, which mine was mostly sitting in a corner, aka time out for "X" amount of minutes:
  • He would ask me to come over to him (Back then he smoked a pipe, it was the 80's so the whole second hand smoke thing was not issue so I found comfort in warm scent of his cherry pipe tobacco) 
  • He would pick me up and sit me on his lap. (This was the best, bc my father's lap was the safest & most loving place I knew of
  • He would lovingly dry my tears and call me his "pumpkin"
  • Ask me to tell him what happened that caused me to be on punishment. 
  • I would then go into great depth of how unjustly I was framed by my older sibling painting a picture of angelic innocence. 
  • Then he would ask me again what caused me to sit in the corner. 

He allowed me time to sort out the behavior that caused the punishment. Also allowing me time to learn how to sincerely apologize

 I would tell him I was sorry, or if it was an action against my sister he would call her over for me to apologize to her. Then he ask me how I could behave differently so I wouldn't be in trouble next time. This part would not go on every time, however my memory of these actions are crystal clear as if it were yesterday.

The most important part for me in his disciplinary action- no matter what lead up to this part even into my teens, was he forgave me. He would verbally say it, he would take me in his arms and kiss my cheeks, dry my tears, & then lovingly say, "I forgive you. Now go play nicely please." Or if it was between my sister and I, he would direct my sister to say, "I forgive you." and we were to hug each other then go play.

That singular memory has stayed with me, it helps me when I can't forgive myself for different things I have done, I take that memory and remember my father forgiving me. I make sure no matter how small the situation is when my daughter says, "I am sorry." I follow through with "I forgive you."  I believe there is an art to forgiving if we don't practice it when we are young, we don't apply it as adults. And how many people do we know who can hold a grudge like no other? How many illnesses I wonder can be linked to bitterness, resentment, & unforgiveness? 

Forgiveness is for ourselves,  forgiveness:
  • allows peace and harmony to live within ourselves
  • is a gift we give ourselves.  
  • doesn't mean what was done to us is acceptable, 
  • DOES means we have freed ourselves from holding on to the injustice and released the negative emotions attached to that injustice.
In retrospect, learning to forgive is understanding grace, grace that a Holy God could send His only son to die in our place, though it is unearned and undeserved He extends it still. There have been times I grappled with this concept, though I have accepted the gift of salvation at an early age, I still at times struggle with accepting grace. The mere memory of my earthly father extending grace to myself as a small child over a trivial transgression made such an indelible impression that as adult I can apply this lesson to an eternal precept.

The actions of my earthly father forgiving me and teaching me to accept forgiveness hope and trust were easily given on my part. And because of those actions of my earthly father it made it easy for to me accept that my Heavenly Father was a God of His word and His grace is indeed a free gift I can accept.
We as parents have so much to teach our children and I am so thankful I was entrusted to a man like my father who showed me the art of forgiving and extending grace.  It is my hope that I can then teach the precious little gems the Lord has entrusted my husband & myself with the same legacy of Grace and Forgiveness that was instilled in my life.  

Linked to Raising Homemakers  and Growing Home 

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