Parenting and the power of forgiveness

She fell asleep before we could exchange our apologies.

The sun was already setting on our long, hectic day and dinner had yet to be served.

Hunger and fatigue, the common bewitching hour triggers, took hold of us all. And tantrums were had. Right there in our car, still far from home.

I vacillated between feeling the need to reprimand and just wanting to get home so we could decompress, reconnect, and whisper apologies.

I wanted to reach out and smooth her furrowed brow. Maybe, just maybe at the next long red light.

Instead, we drove in silence to our last destination before heading home. And she was asleep.

Which made perfect sense.

Big Brother tried to wake her up, after all, I did promise some frozen yogurt after his sick day, battling a sore throat and a cotton swab to the throat to cap it all off. She needs to sleep I whispered. Sorry, we just need to go home.

Back at home, I carefully unbuckled her from her car seat and lifted her out. She’s so tall. Getting so heavy. Not a baby anymore.

I wrapped her long legs around my waist and she instinctively nuzzled her head into that crook between my neck and shoulder. I rubbed her back, telling her I loved her and…I forgive you. It’s okay, I love you.

And with those simple 3 words…I forgive you…I could feel her body instantly relax. No longer tense.

My hope is that it was exactly what she needed to sleep peacefully for the rest of the night.

In parenting, we put a lot of emphasis on apologizing. Say you’re sorry for taking your sister’s toy, or say you’re sorry for pushing your brother. And, we’re quick to apologize too when we’ve lost patience and yelled at them to just get in the car already!

But as vital as saying I’m sorry is to sibling and parent/child relationships, forgiving may be even more so.

When we forgive our children for their angry outbursts or terrible tantrums, we release them from guilt and sadness. We exercise our own empathetic muscles and convey to them that hey, we all make mistakes and I forgive you. I will love you no matter what.

It’s no different than forgiving ourselves (which is sometimes much harder to do as parents) for our parental blunders or lost patience.

But when we do…when we are generous to both our children and ourselves with our I forgive you‘s…the result is powerful.

I felt that power in the complete dissolution of tension and utter peace found in my sleeping child’s body.

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One Response to Parenting and the power of forgiveness
  1. busybride
    November 8, 2012 | 5:48 pm

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Wonderfully written.