It’s important for us as parents to show our children how to live well. As I thought about the meaning of Easter this year, it occurred to me that one of the hardest life lessons to teach our children is how to forgive. I’m not talking about burying a grudge, only to dig it up later like we sometimes do, but real forgiveness—where you can move on with joy and never look back.
Why is demonstrating true forgiveness so important? Because our kids need to know that we forgive them for all the mistakes they make. Because we make mistakes, too, and we’re happier when we can forgive ourselves. And because we want our kids to experience a happy life, free from grudges and guilt, when they become adults.
So, how can we teach our kids to forgive? Show them:
- When you say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you,” mean it.
- Be willing to accept that an apology may not happen. Some people will never be brave enough to say “I’m sorry,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t forgive them.
- Forgive yourself when you make a mistake, and talk with your kids about what you did and how you handled it gracefully.
- Don’t let the little things upset you. Turn a spilled glass of juice into a laugh and a shared cleanup job instead of anger or irritation.
- When your child makes a serious mistake, cool off overnight before having a discussion. Then, sit down with them to talk about why you’re disappointed. Offer a few solutions and let them come up with their own way to make things right. If that’s difficult for them, offer a few solutions.
Life is too short to spend it weighted down by old wrongs. Today, as parents, let’s focus on forgiving our kids and ourselves for all our many human faults and fails. Our children look to us as examples and they will benefit from this gift.