If I were to view parenting as a combination of ingredients, forgiveness is the one key ingredient that you need to extra helpings of.  Because, you cannot parent without forgiveness.

As a parent there is no way, to lovingly and effectively parent your children without much forgiveness being poured out daily.  

Over the course of years or just within the course of a day there will be plenty of opportunities to be offended, hold a grudge, self-criticize, or hang on to hurts and more.

And surprisingly, this is not just always towards your children.

With over 15 years of parenting I have learned the three main areas where forgiveness is most needed are:

  • forgiving yourself
  • forgiving your children
  • forgiving others

Although one area is not more important than the other, I do believe forgiving myself first is key to bring change and clarity to my perspective of parenting.

FORGIVE YOURSELF

Unfortunately, mom guilt is real.

But what’s even worst is that mom guilt does not always come from outsiders.  

Often times we can be our own worst enemy at pointing out everything we did wrong.  Or, pointing out everything we didn’t accomplish that we set out to do.

Let me tell you.  For years, I judged myself so harshly for not having an immaculate career established and financially thriving before I started a family.  Well for one, I was young and had an entirely different mindset 15 years ago than I have today.

But honestly, I was very unforgiving with myself.  

And to be really honest with you, for years I carried massive shame because I felt like I failed in that area. I didn’t have a 10 or 5-year plan laid out.  I just knew I wanted to start a family.  

So I did.

It wasn’t until recently within the past few years did I begin to dig myself out of that pit of despair. Forgive myself for not making all the best financial decisions.  And then move forward towards my new and exciting carved out goals.   

As simple as it was to read those sentences, it takes much more courage and determination to push through that process.

But, I had to push.  Not holding myself hostage to my past.  Not subconsciously telling myself I’m not a good mom because of my financial state.

Thankfully I learned and now understand what it meant to not allow my past to define who I am today.  

FIND YOUR PURPOSE

It takes hard work to discover your purpose and understand your gifts and talents.  

But, more importantly, dive into the process of learning what God says about you.  And focus on what He thinks about you. Then, little by little begin chipping away at the wall causing mental blockage.  

And soon, you’ll see yourself taking one piece at a time building a legacy you always dreamed of having for your children. There may be an area in your life that has tried to haunt you for years causing you to feel as though you have failed your children in some way.

But I challenge you today to get the necessary help which will cause you to begin the journey of self-forgiveness and to stop judging yourself.

And don’t limit self-forgiveness to just “big” situations. But even work on forgiving yourself on a daily basis.

Did you yell at your kids unnecessarily today?

Did you plan to not give your kids sweets but needed a bribe to get your toddler in his car seat?  

No matter the case, it’s not too late to forgive yourself first so you can move forward.

FORGIVE YOUR CHILDREN

There was a study done on children in elementary school called The Forgiving Family: Effects of a Parent-Led Forgiveness.

There were many positive benefits of parents showing and teaching forgiveness.

For example, forgiveness education was shown to aid in the reduction of anger and depression.

NO GRUDGES

No parent would hold a grudge against their child, right? Well, let’s see. 

It’s okay to admit if you found yourself holding a grudge against your children because at one point or another we’ve all been there. 

You cannot parent without forgiveness because we are imperfect parents. With imperfect children.  

Yes, I know they are cute, smart and funny. But the reality is, they have flaws that will sometimes make us cringe.  They will do that same thing over and over again that you know you told them not to do.  

And as they grow, especially into the teenage years they will say or do some things that may even feel heartbreaking. 

BECOME RESILIENT

But, as a parent one of our greatest asset is resilience.  

Resilience is simply defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; and toughness. 

Whether it’s another tantrum in the grocery store.  Another day that their chores are not day.  Or even if it’s that’s one thing you thought your child would never do.

Forgive.

Yes, we still need to correct and hand out
consequences as necessary. But, not allowing our hearts to be full of
bitterness may take a little more effort.

Once again, I have another true confession to make.  

REAL LIFE

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As a homeschooling mom, one of my kids was giving me a really hard time. And every morning I started the day almost expecting it to go south because they were such a challenge.  

But one morning as we were starting our day these words came to my heart, “you are holding a grudge against them today from their behavior on yesterday”. And you know what, it was true.

Every morning I woke up with negative expectations of my child because I was subconsciously holding their behavior against them.  

So, I had to intentionally forgive them.  And, create strategies to correct the behavior.  It was not instant. But with time, I no longer started my day with those gloomy feelings and we have been able to work through the rest.

But without forgiveness, I would not have been able to even think clearly to work through this process.

To be the loving parent you want to be you cannot parent without forgiveness.  And without the love of God you cannot forgive.

I agree there are times when we do need some “me time” just to unwind and relax.  

Or, sometimes we are running on auto pilot and just need a good night’s sleep or an uninterrupted nap. 

But, many times we ultimately need our love tank filled with God’s love so we are not so easily agitated and can more quickly forgive our kiddos.  

IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY

I’m not promising that this will always be easy. Especially if you experience deep hurt from older children. But I can promise you that it is possible.

Here is one scripture to help you if you feel like you are struggling to forgive.

I Peter 4:8 (this is the Amplified version) “Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others]

The beauty of this is that we can take all of our truths and hurts to God and tell Him how we’re feeling because He sympathize and understands… (Hebrews 4:15).   

Yes, we have birthed, raised and provided in
the best ways we knew how as a parent and yet, we can experience some of the
worst hurt from our very own children.

But we can entrust our heart and children to God and trust Him to help us forgive.

Forgive Others

Now I know you may be thinking what do “others” have to do with a parent child relationship?

Well actually, a lot. You cannot parent without forgiveness even towards those who are considered outsiders. You see We can protect our children from a lot of things but other people is one thing we cannot protect them from forever.

How do you handle negative influences your child experience from other children?

Or, as a parent how do you handle when other parents don’t agree with your parenting style?

You’ve guessed it.

Forgive.

How?

I’m glad you asked! 

If you’re dealing with your child and outside negative influences always take the necessary steps to protect and do what you feel is best for your child. 

That may look different for each family.  But, the one thing I would encourage any parent to do is to forgive those who you feel are causing the negative influences.  

And likewise, don’t allow shame or judgements from other parents to cause you to feel like you’re doing a bad job because another parent does not agree with your family’s standards.

But, forgive the person and realize it’s okay if your parenting style is different and unique for your children.  

Everyone will not have your same perspective or viewpoint on every subject matter.  But, don’t allow that to steal your joy or confidence as a parent.  Trust your instincts and do what you believe is best for your children based on the Word of God.

 Sometimes this may also mean you have to forgive those closest to you.  You may have a spouse or close family member who does not see eye to eye with a parenting decisions you think is best. 

In a case like this, you still have to find a way to settle your differences or agree to disagree but still not hold un-forgiveness towards the other person. 

One tough area that many people have a hard time extending forgiveness is after experiencing a divorce.

Even as painful as a divorce may be, you still have to forgive the other party and focus on what’s best for the children involved.

Here’s an entire blog post about Parenting Children After a Divorce.

PERFECT OR AN EXPERT?

Well…my belief is that no matter how many degrees, trainings or certifications we complete, becoming a parenting expert takes a life time of learning, plenty of mistakes and a whole lot of grace.  

And, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, your child will grow and develop once again causing you to have to go back to the drawing board all over again!  

My prayer for you as a parent is that you will continue to walk in God’s wisdom, knowledge
and understanding about the importance of forgiveness towards yourself, your
children and other people as you continue on your parenting journey.

Here are 3 steps to get you started in the direction of forgiveness:

  1. Agree with the scripture not your emotions.
  2. Pray and ask God to heal your emotions in the area concerning your un-forgiveness. 
  3. Forgive as many times as necessary in your heart. 

Remember, you cannot parent without forgiveness.

Here are a few more additional scripture references for more understanding on forgiveness:

  • Mathew 6:14-15
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • 1John 1:9
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Mathew 18:21-22

Until next time.

Happy Reading,

-Andrea Felder

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