|Asking Your Kids for Forgiveness
by Jen Price
Forgive ~ to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
My husband and I have worked hard to teach our kids the difference between saying, “I’m sorry” and “Will you forgive me?”. They are usually quick to say they are sorry for a wrong action, but to ask for forgiveness, well, those words don’t just roll off the tongue. Why is that?
Because it takes humility.
It takes admitting that the action you just did was out of the boundaries that God has for you. Asking forgiveness means you are asking another person to cancel the feelings of anger or hurt that your action just created in them. Learning to ask for forgiveness is a powerful life lesson that will help our kids far into adulthood.
Several years ago, my humble-yourself-and-ask-for-forgiveness thing was tested to the max.
On a particularly not-so-good day, my peace-and-calming-speak-in-love radar was way off. In a moment of breaking up sibling fights and diffusing arguments for what must have been the gazillionth time, I lost it. I raised my voice. I spoke in anger. I stepped outside of the boundary.
I was faced with a decision to make, one that I’d asked my kids to make many times before. Would I humble myself and ask my kids to forgive me, or would I let my pride take over and hope they forgot the whole thing?
The first option felt like the single most humbling thing I’d ever done in my life, but the second option would mean I would be missing out on a very important opportunity to model this forgiveness thing.
Did you know that walking in humility and asking for forgiveness tears down walls and builds bridges?
In one moment, anger and tears can be the emotions overwhelming the room, but once forgiveness enters in, that anger and those tears are replaced with joy and love (well, maybe there’s still a few tears). I explained to my kids that responding in anger and raising my voice was wrong and as I asked, “Will you forgive me?”, it was so clearly visible how the room softened.
I want my kids to learn to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others. Merely telling them to do it won’t cut it. I have to model it for them. My imperfect self seems to get this opportunity to do this regularly. I hate it, but I love it.
I’ve never seen the words, “I’m sorry” in the Bible, but I’ve read plenty of passages talking about forgiveness.
It’s so powerful that Jesus says it’s only when we forgive others that He will forgive us. I’m pretty sure that indicates the importance of the daily practice of this powerful act.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15
Along this parenting journey, I’m always looking for resources to help teach my kids these life lessons I want them to learn. Besides the Bible, another great resource for teaching kids to walk in forgiveness is Mercer Mayer’s We All Need Forgiveness. The timeless classic tales of Little Critter draw kids in, and this particular book shows how forgiveness is a two-sided action. We must ask, and we must receive.
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How do you teach your kids forgiveness? Is there a time when you had to ask forgiveness from your children?
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|Reflections on Dad
by Erin Mohring
Meet Erin Mohring
I’m going to be honest: it’s not easy to get my boys to “reflect” on something. Reflecting requires quiet, stillness, uninterrupted thought… yeah, three boys under the age of eight don’t do much of those things!
With Father’s Day approaching, though, I knew it was important to help them spend some time thinking about the man they call Daddy and just why they love him so much.
We say I love you and go about our days, but the people we love are worth more reflection than just a few simple words. And this is even more significant to me as we raise boys.
They have an amazing, godly father who they love to the moon and back, but I want them to know just exactly what is so special about him, what they can admire and what can inspire them to be men of godly character, and the things that make him the the dad God had in mind for them from the beginning.
If you have boys, you probably know the answers that come first when a boy talks about what he loves about his dad…
“He is the best wrestler!” – Big J, age 8
“I love my daddy because he plays video games with me and I love him.” – Caleb, age 4
“He brings home candy from the hospital for me!” – Little J, age 5
“I love that my dad takes me to the park.” – Joshua, age 10
Sure, these things don’t necessarily require a lot of thought, but you know what they do show me? Boys that know their dads love them because they take the time to do fun things with them and think of them when they aren’t at home.
When my boys gave answers like these, I used to get frustrated because they weren’t really appreciating my husband for his best qualities. But to them, these are the important things. The things that make them feel loved and cherished by their fathers, just as the father does in the sweet book, I Love You All the Same.
As siblings can do, the little ones in this book want to be the best at the same things, but the sweet dad takes the time to share the unique things about each child that makes him love them all the same.
Good dads notice, appreciate, and help foster and connect over the special qualities and interests each child possesses, whether it be music, sports, games, or food!
Some of the deeper things I see my boys appreciate in their daddy aren’t mentioned when I ask them what they love most about him, but are noticed in the way they interact on a daily basis. After my husband had been running for about a year, our oldest asked if he could start running on the treadmill. He always wanted to know how many miles Daddy ran that day and would keep track of his own miles in a notebook. My son might not ever answer that he admires the way his father made his health a priority, but it has definitely been reflected in the way he lives!
Our five-year-old wasn’t sure what I meant when I asked what he admired about Daddy, so I gave him a few examples. After a little while, he came back to me and said, “I want to be smart and hard-working like Daddy when I grow up.” As he is just finishing up his kindergarten year and aiming for his dream to be a veterinarian some day, I love that he sees the value in education and diligence in the example my husband has set for our boys. And I’m hoping some of his diligence wears off on me, too!
And the very best? Seeing my boys pray with and for their dad.
The strongest man is one who knows his strength lies in God, and I love knowing my boys see this relationship with Jesus in my husband. Because of him, they know what a godly man looks like and they have a model of faith to build upon of their own faith.
In a culture that often belittles and ridicules the role of dad, I want my boys to think often of the characteristics that make their dad a godly man, an inspiration in their life, the one they love and are blessed to call Daddy. Let’s help them reflect on these things this Father’s Day and throughout the year!
What are some of your kids’ favorite reflections on dad? We’d love to hear what has come out of your little one’s mouth!
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|The Secret of Fatherhood
by Jim Daly, from The Good Dad
We all have insecurities boiling inside us. Our culture tells us incessantly what failures we are as fathers.
Even our own genes can throw up roadblocks. We don’t get to be the heroes we feel like we should be. And so we fail. We lose interest. We’d rather play video games.
But we can’t. We have to push aside those fears and insecurities and our own laziness – the “ways of childhood” the apostle Paul talks about (1 Corinthians 13:11). We have to transcend our own weaknesses and predilections and become the greater man. I think God calls us to do just that.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want writes Paul in Galatians 5:17.
Sometimes we might wonder why our flesh and our Spirit always seem to be in such opposition. After all, God created both our bodies and souls. But I think the Lord sets up paradoxes in life in order to create environments for us to learn how to become more like Him, situations that push against our natural inclinations and into a more God-honoring stance. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to lean on Him more and more.
I like to think of it like this: We all live, in a sense, in boxes, with the whole box of life tilted in God’s direction. We can fight, we can struggle, we can deny Him, we can scream. We can do whatever to try to move away from Him. But the elevation of the box on one side keeps cranking up until we reach a tipping point. Something snaps, and we fall to the other side. It’s all about leaning into God.
Marriage thrusts us into such a box. You’re selfish? You like calling your own shots? Get married. And if you’re selfish too long, you’re not going to be married long. You have to start giving.
Fatherhood is exactly the same thing. If some selfishness remains in you after marriage, then have some kids – and be responsible for them. Sure, you can have children all day long, as many men do, and have no accountability. But if you have a sense of responsibility for that child, you take up that mantle.
Yes, it will be hard. You will not know how to deal with them very well, at least at first. You’ll feel scared. You’ll feel frustrated. It’s hard because, in some ways, God knows it has to be hard for us. Only through that pain and difficulty do we grow ever more like Him. Our flawed flesh and scared souls may give us pause. But according to Paul,
… the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline – 2 Timothy 1:7
And that, in the end, is the heart of it all, the secret of fatherhood – living in power, love, and self-discipline. Sometimes that goes against our instincts or what we’d like. But that’s what God calls us to.
And at the center of it all, as Paul once again says, is love. Always hopeful, always trusting, always persevering. As a father, love is the key, the secret to everything. It’s not rocket science. It’s pretty easy, really. If you love your kids and you can show them that you love them, everything else falls into place.
And we need to love them as a father. We can’t mother our children; most of our children already have great mothers. Don’t be their mother. Be their dad. And what does it mean to be their dad? It means you do have to connect. Engage them in the way that you can. Be natural with it. Cut loose a little. It will come naturally to you. Turtles know what to do. Penguins know what to do. Other animals know what to do as dads. We human fathers know what to do, too. Sure, circumstances have changed. Most of us can’t talk about life with our boys while working in the fields anymore. But we can find opportunities, if we only look for them.
Many men don’t even know the job requirements of fatherhood. But fatherhood’s not a job, and it never has been. Being a father isn’t something we do. It’s something we are. That’s hard for us to understand sometimes, being as task oriented as we are. But I think that’s what Paul is getting at.
We need to lean on love, push beyond our instincts, and go deeper. We don’t set aside being a good dad when we’re off the clock. It’s something we become. And just as we’re always in the process of unpacking our faith, growing ever closer to Jesus long after we become Christians, so the road to becoming a father is a never-ending journey.
We’re always learning how to be a good dad. We’re always in the process of becoming one. And we never cast aside that process.
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What is the one thing you admire most about your father or your husband when it comes to his parenting?
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