Parenting with the Bible is a monthly
article prepared especially for parents by Bible
scholar and child expert, Caryl
Forgive and Forget?
There are occasions in family life when a parent
thinks, "I can NEVER forgive that!"
Such an unforgiving attitude is heard by youngsters
and nurtures in them similar mistaken habits.
After all, Jesus, when nailed to the cross, said
"Father, forgive them, for they know not
what they do." (Luke 23: 34) If the Master
could do that, how can we do anything less?
When a car cuts in front of you, when one child
grabs a toy from another, when a friend says something
cruel, when a teen damages your car, when a spouse
forgets an important date, when a youngster breaks
something precious....we may think, "That's
unforgivable!" But couldn't/shouldn't we
forgive such things? Certainly we should when
we see that wrong acts of others are stepping
stones in grace for ourselves. We all strive to
improve our traits, and our children's too. The
wrong-doer needs the grace of forgiveness - not
only God's, but also ours. Our task is to lead
the way to better actions, and then put out of
thought the wrong actions. Yes, forget them.
Forgive and forget go hand-in-hand for parents.
Solomon urges this in his wisdom in Proverbs and
the English poet Alexander Pope says, "To
err is human but to forgive is divine." So,
let's choose the divine! This requires discipline
of thought, and then, the important action of
teaching the grace of forgiveness to our children.
Paul tells us to be merciful, kind, long-suffering,
forgiving (Col.3:12, 13). If you are a wonderful
"I love you no matter what" parent,
you can encourage youngsters to use the phrase
"I forgive you." You'll be amazed at
the reaction when it's said between two children
- it totally defuses the anger. And, when you
hear those words, be sure to compliment a child
on their use.
Of course, you don't forgive mistakes without
some corrective conversation. Was the teen speeding?
Does the spouse need a calendar of events? Do
young children understand the concept of sharing?
Have you made it clear that certain things are
for "eyes only" and not to be touched?.
If you don't make simple rules and simple systems,
you can't blame others for not doing the right
A wonderful family activity is the study of the
story of Joseph, found in Genesis. It's worth
reading together over the course of several days.
Include these verses:
Gen.37: 3, 4, 12, 13, 23-25, 27;
Gen. 41: 46-48, 57;
Gen. 42: 1, 2, 29-36;
Gen. 43: 1-17, 23;
Gen. 44:1-13, 18, 33-34;
Gen. 45: 1-5.
(During the reading, serve pistachio nuts and
almonds since they are
good Holy Land snacks. Put these in a silver cup,
symbolic of Benjamin's
cup.) Then, let the family act out the story,
each person getting a part to play
(Joseph, Benjamin, Reuben, Jacob, etc.) You can
illustrate three points: the
awfulness of the brothers' attitudes toward Joseph,
the forgiving attitude of
Joseph, and the long-term results. To complete
your Holy Land meal, serve
hearty lentil soup and bread for dinner.
Holding grudges, getting even, mean responses,
never forgiving - these build tension in any home.
Teaching forgiveness is not a one-time lesson,
but one that will bless your family's way of life
now and on to the next generation.
Start this week to make forgiveness an essential
part of each day.
Caryl W. Krueger