The third installment of Tim and Sue Muldoon’s series on “Why Children Need Ignatian Spirituality” is about the power of stories. Ignatius wanted people to use all their senses when contemplating the gospels. Stories are a powerful way for children to do this.
Don’t just teach forgiveness; tell the story of the Lost Son and then practice forgiveness—really practice it—at home. Take time when they are calm, teach the meaning of saying “I forgive you” (instead of the more bland “it’s okay”), and then walk them through the action of forgiving someone. Find ways to celebrate forgiveness in your family. The father of the lost son threw a party. Your family might celebrate by making a special dessert when you have been able to show forgiveness after a difficult conflict.
I think it’s frightening that many people see the act of asking for forgiveness (saying you’re sorry) and of forgiving and saying “I forgive you” or even “that’s ok” as silly…at least in my daily life in the UK I often encounter this attitude. People tend to think it’s unnecessary because “it won’t change anything anyway”….
I grew up in a family that didn’t believe in forgiveness. Rather, to hold a grudge, to remember long past the slight was viewed as self-protection against future assaults. My parents learned this from their parents, and so it goes. To forgive was seen as weakness and allowing oneself to be a doormat. I have worked hard at learning and practicing forgiveness, not an easy task, but a liberating gift to myself. I like the concept of teaching children by way of celebration and think I may give it a try for myself. Why not make a positive experience out of forgiveness even for adults? This was a great post, thank you.
Scary concept isn’t it — until I realized it takes God to give us the wherewithal to be able to forgive. Letting go of anger is hard to do, it is after all so entertaining to sit and do mental video about all the stupid things they did to us and to others. We could watch all day long and even wake up at night.
Yes, the “wherewithal to be able to forgive” definitely came from God, a lightbulb revelation that I could just offer it all up and be done with it. And when the temptation to run those mental videos presents itself (yet again….) I can once again offer it up. Sometimes forgiving is an ongoing process, other times far easier. I wish I had understood this forgiveness business when I was raising my own children, as I could have taught it to them, but it was another of those things I had to grow into over time.