How does one forgive on behalf of another? My child was molested by my sister’s husband while in her care. I feel I cannot forgive for my daughter. Everytime I think of this person and this act, I feel hatred and do not believe I could ever feel any other way toward such a monster (and don’t really want to?), yet relise I need to release these feelings to alleviate the pain and anger I am carrying around. This particular form of forgiveness, when the ‘crime’ was commited against another, seems not to be covered in lierature, etc.

We are very sorry to hear of the mistreatment of your daughter. This should never, ever happen to a child. We discuss the kind of forgiveness you target in your question in the book, Forgiveness Is a Choice. You would not be forgiving on behalf of your daughter. Instead, you would be forgiving him for his injustice to you. He hurt your daughter. You are legitimately angry. You can then forgive him for the pain he has caused you by hurting your daughter. Once you learn the depth of forgiveness in this way, we recommend working with your daughter on forgiving him, if she is ready to do that. Please remember: When we forgive we do not toss out justice. As we forgive, we can and should ask fairness from those who have hurt us or who are a danger to others.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness