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Forgiveness: 5 Realities to Helping Your Teenager Understand What It Is and Is Not

Apr 2, 2008
If there is one area of the family cycle that provides an optimal opportunity for forgiveness, it would be the teenage years. Often filled with times of conflict and frustration, the teenage years can be a great time to exercise forgiveness. As a parent, you can provide the best education of forgiveness both as a teacher and example.

Many teenagers have a false misunderstanding of what it means to forgive. And who can blame them? After all, if you were to ask a thousand different people about forgiveness, then you would get a thousand different answers and each of them would likely possess some element of truth. Here are some realities about forgiveness:

Reality 1 - Forgiveness does not require forgetting the offense

Unless you have a lobotomy, I am not sure humans are capable of forgetting offenses. Nor am I convinced a person should forget what happened. When a person harms us, and then seeks reconciliation there is an element of trust that is being requested. Remind your teenager that trust is to be earned, not necessarily given just because a person has apologized.

Reality 2 - Forgiving does not mean you overlook your own feelings

Many teenagers want to be the more mature person when in conflict with others. So they tend to suppress their own feelings meanwhile thinking they are forgiving another person. However, the next time this person offends them their feelings are even stronger because they were not dealt with in the past. Teach your teenager that forgiveness is a result of working through emotions, not suppressing them.

Reality 3 - Forgiveness is a one person show

Many have come to believe that in order to forgive, the other person must apologize first. As if somehow forgiveness is validated by an apology. To the contrary, teenagers can become empowered onto the path of forgiveness because it is totally within their control. While another's apology is nice, it is a luxury not a requirement.

Reality 4 - Forgiveness does not mean you a weak person

Many teenagers operate on the Darwin theory of "survival of the fittest." Walk through the halls of any high school, and you are sure to witness the tough circles they encounter. Show your teenager that forgiveness leads to stronger relationships, not weaker ones because they are filled with honesty and humility versus pride and dishonesty.

Reality 5 - Forgiveness is not denial

For some forgiveness has come to mean that they somehow you agree with the offense, as if to say there never really was a conflict. Or that nothing actually took place to hurt you. Nonsense! Remind your teenager that when you two have a disagreement, your forgiveness does not erase the argument. Rather, forgiveness helps you to embrace it so that your relationship can move forward.

Forgiveness is a healthy part of any relationship. Unfortunately, many teenagers can have misconceptions of what forgiveness is, and thereby can set them up for failure. Having a realistic understanding of forgiveness can help your teenager have deeper friendships and a stronger relationship with you
About the Author
Are you looking for more practical solutions for parenting your teenager? I invite you to check out http://www.parentingyourteenager.com/ where you will find more information to help parents and teens become better friends when they feel like enemies.
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