Connecting the Generations-Forgiveness in Family Life

We raised one of “those” kids. You know the kind of child I am talking about; the kids we all secretly hope we do not get as parents – the children who get into everything and seem to always be in trouble or pushing the limits. Yes, we had one, and she was challenging from the very beginning. It began with her crying; she cried every single time she was put in the car seat, starting with her first car trip home from the hospital. And she cried each time thereafter, until she had grown large enough to sit up and look out the window. She was also in constant motion; she crawled up, on, and all over everything and took most things apart. She hit me when I put her on a timeout, bit me when she was frustrated, broke more than her share of dishes, and picked every one of my prized daffodils the spring she turned three. She kept us busy!

When we tell stories about what Lisa was like as a little girl, she looks sheepish, laughs, and apologizes for her early troublesome nature. What we had to understand was that Lisa never intentionally set out to hurt us or damage our things. We knew her well and knew her motivations – she was curious, spirited, and sensitive. This allowed my husband and I to continue to love her while we tried to teach her about limits, self control, and empathy.

As we raised this child, we learned about forgiveness. I had to forgive Lisa for biting me (while I taught her better ways to channel her frustration). I had to forgive her for breaking an irreplaceable vase my dad had made for me. There were numerous times I had to ask Lisa for forgiveness when I lost my patience with her and responded too harshly to her curiosity, her intensity, and her high energy level.

Forgiveness is a gift we share with those we care about. It’s not an easy gift to give. But it is a gift that is essential for long-lasting and high-quality relationships. When we forgive someone, we give them a fresh start. We help them understand that it’s okay if they aren’t perfect (none of us are), and most importantly, we help them re-connect with their inner goodness.

By Amy Sluss. Amy Sluss, RN, is a family-life specialist, an author and an acclaimed parenting speaker from Pleasanton, CA. Visit her website  to access her product line of uplifting parenting education tools for families with children ages 9-16.