Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship Pt 6: Forgiveness

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L.: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship Component #6 Forgiveness of self forms the foundation for love and forgiveness of others.

In my work with families I encounter parents who have experienced deep pain during childhood at the hands of their own parents, and the first thing they generally say is, “Oh I have forgiven my parents.”

Without a doubt when I hear this I sense deeply within myself an individual who has not fully embraced the understanding of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process of self-awareness and self-acceptance, which allows us to see our actions both positive and negative and take responsibility for them as opposed to feeling blamed, which leads to guilt.

In other words, it is the human condition to blame ourselves for all things negative.

Regrettably this takes the place in the form of shaming, and denial of ones feelings, and a building up of a sense of ones lack of worth. The abused child comes to believe that they are the reason for the abuse.

If only they could behave better.

The abused child as an adult comes to deny the feeling of not being good enough and reinforces this negative self-picture with a misconception of forgiving her parents. In fact, this only fosters her sense of shame and denial. Rather, the adult must come to the deeply emotional awakening that she must forgive herself for the years spent devaluing, blaming, and shaming her beautiful self.

Until we can forgive ourselves we cannot forgive others fully. All else becomes face value, simply surface. For parents in their interaction with their own children it is essential to see their own inherent parental shortcomings. We must strive to do the best that we can but also realize we will make mistakes as our parents also made mistakes.

When the mistakes occur, as surely they will, we must first forgive ourselves for our imperfections and then seek forgiveness from our children. Forgiveness should also come with the promise and effort to do better next time. As God forgives us so should we forgive ourselves and seek forgiveness from others.

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