Archive for December, 2019
You have stated that forgiveness is something we give to the one who has hurt us. What if I want to forgive to feel better? What if the idea of giving something good to my offender is repulsive to me? What if I never want to see this person again?
There is a difference between what forgiving is and our motivations for engaging in forgiveness. It is not dishonorable to want to forgive to feel better. At the same time, this motivation does not change what forgiving is in it’s essence, which is a moral virtue of being good to those who are not good to us. In addition, as Aristotle reminds us, it takes time to grow in any of the moral virtues. If you are willing to “do no harm” to the one who hurt you, even if you are not ready to be respectful or loving toward that person, you are on the pathway of forgiving.
Learn more at Forgiving is not. . .
“If you’ve seen your children struggle to forgive someone for hurting them, you know that forgiveness is complicated,” says Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. “After all, forgiveness is complicated for adults, too.”
Rather than discourage us, however, that reality should in fact encourage parents and teachers to begin teaching children about forgiveness as early as possible and certainly by the time they are in pre-kindergarten, Dr. Enright outlines in an article posted yesterday in Greater Good Magazine. Entitled How We Think About Forgiveness at Different Ages, the article describes how a child’s understanding of forgiving develops as she grows older.
“In over 30 years of studying forgiveness, I have interviewed children and adolescents, as well as college students and adults—and found that our understanding of forgiveness evolves over childhood and young adulthood, partly influenced by what we learn from our parents and communities,” Dr. Enright says.
“Helping our children reach their highest level of forgiving can set them up to live a life without unhealthy anger and with more peace.”
Dr. Robert Enright
Dr. Enright’s research indicates that no matter what age a child is at, he starts with some misconceptions about forgiveness including these:
- Young children often believe that the proclamation of “I am sorry” followed by the automatic reply of “I forgive you” can solve any conflict.
- Fourth graders often equate it with first getting even.
- Many 9 to 10-year-old children think they could forgive and make up with classmates only if those classmates first got what they deserved–punishment for their misbehavior.
- Compared to fourth graders, seventh graders usually develop what is called a “reciprocal perspective” where they can think of themselves and others at the same time but they often say it will be easier to forgive if they are first compensated for what happened to them.
- Many 10th graders take a more complex view of forgiving where the focus is on their peer group and their family context. Here they can understand that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation, and that it is possible to forgive while seeking justice. At the same time, however, there is a tendency to occasionally over-emphasize the advice of the peer group. If the group frowns on the idea of forgiving, then the person may refrain from offering the mercy of forgiveness toward those who were unfair.
Those and other misconceptions children hold about forgiveness can be overcome as they learn and practice true forgiveness, according to Dr. Enright.
“Children can reach a profound understanding of forgiveness in adulthood by persistently practicing it, with the help of parents, when they are hurt by others,” Dr. Enright adds. “Such learning, begun early in life, is a building block for mature adult thinking about forgiveness. Worldwide, it is one path toward peace.”
Read the full article: How We Think About Forgiveness at Different Ages
Through articles, videos, quizzes, and podcasts, Greater Good Magazine bridges the gap between scientific journals and people’s daily lives, particularly for parents, educators, business leaders, and health care professionals. Its goal is to turn scientific research into tools and tips for a happier life and a more compassionate society.
Greater Good Magazine is published by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 2001, the GGSC has been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life.
Learn more at the Greater Good Science Center:
- How to Help Your Kids Understand Forgiveness – a 2 min. 17 sec. video subtitled “Instead of retaliating, our kids can learn to find peace by making the choice to forgive.”
- How to Gradually Introduce Kids to the Idea of Forgiveness – Young kids can learn the building blocks of forgiveness and develop them as they get older.
- Why Kids Need to Learn How to Forgive – Forgiveness heals hurts and is good for the forgiver–even the young ones.
- Does Forgiveness Make Kids Happier? – Spoiler alert: It Does.
- Parenting Videos: Raising Caring, Courageous Kids – A fun new video series.
The Green Bay Packers Foundation on Wednesday awarded a grant to the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) for its “Drive for Others’ Lives” driver safety campaign. Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the IFI, accepted the award during an exclusive award-winners luncheon in the 5-story tall Lambeau Field Atrium adjacent to historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.
“We’re proud to award a record $1 million through our annual Packers Foundation grants this year,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said at the event. “We are inspired by the outstanding recipient organizations, who have critical roles in the community and the positive impact thy have on those they serve every day.”
To be eligible, an organization must have been:
- Physically located in the state of Wisconsin;
- A not-for-profit tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code; and,
- Requesting funding for a project/program that addresses issues for at least one of the focus areas for 2019 that were animal welfare, civic and community, environmental, health and wellness (including drug/alcohol and domestic violence causes).
“The IFI grant application focused on the central shared idea between forgiveness and safe driving that all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable and thus all have inherent worth,” Dr. Enright explained after accepting the Green Bay Packers Foundation check. “We need to drive–and live–with this in mind.”
The multi-faceted campaign includes free distribution of professionally-designed vehicle bumper stickers imprinted with the “Drive for Others’ Lives” slogan. The 11½” x 3″ bumper stickers have a glossy finish that will last for years and the removable adhesive backing will not leave any residue on the surface where it is affixed. More than 2,000 bumper stickers have been distributed by the IFI since the campaign began earlier this year.
“The bumper sticker will alert everyone who sees it to remember that safe driving practices are not only for you and your occupants but for everyone, because every person is important and every person has inherent worth,” Dr. Enright added. “This idea of inherent worth is basic to all of the forgiveness work we undertake.”
The annual grant program through which the IFI received its award is a component of Green Bay Packers Give Back, the Foundation’s all-encompassing community outreach initiative. Including this year’s grants, the Foundation now has distributed more than $12.68 million for charitable purposes since it was established in 1986 by Judge Robert J. Parins, then president of the Packers Corporation, “as a vehicle to assure continued contributions to charity.”
You have what you call the Process Model of forgiveness in which you walk people through a series of steps toward forgiveness. It seems to me that this approach is too limiting. Why impose a particular system rather than let people forgive as they wish, when they wish, and with their own freedom of expression?
Let me start with an analogy. Suppose you are from Spain and you fly into Chicago in the United States. As you exit the airport, your goal is to get to Green Bay, Wisconsin. You have no road map and you never have been in the United States before now. Would it be an imposition if someone gave you a road map that leads from Chicago to Green Bay? Certainly, the map-giver knows that there are many different routes you could take to your final destination, but this particular road map is time-tested and gets the person to Green Bay in the shortest time possible. Would this be a service to the person from Spain or an imposition, especially when the map-giver is not insisting on the use of this map?
It is the same with the Process Model of forgiveness. Think of it as your road map to forgiving and it is your choice whether or not to use that map and even whether or not to engage in all of the units of the Process Model. In my own experience, when people want to forgive, many do not know how to do so or to do so in as efficient way as possible. The Process Model is an empirically-verified treatment. In other words, it has been shown in scientific studies to work in aiding people’s forgiving and in reducing emotional distress. It then is the person’s own choice to use it or not, when to use it, and how to use it.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.
Mary Lou Coons is one of those always-optimistic individuals who uses every tool available to her to overcome life’s adversities–like the brain and spinal cord maladies that have caused her to endure repeated surgeries and years of suffering. Not one to be slowed down by such difficulties, Mary Lou decided to become a self-appointed “forgiveness ambassador” and has been on a mission to teach as many others as she can about the benefits of forgiveness.
This year alone, Mary Lou (who lives in Syracuse, NY) has:
- Single-handedly convinced her parish elementary school to adopt Forgiveness Education in all of its classrooms from pre-kindergarten
through 6th grade;
- Organized and set up a booth to promote forgiveness to the more than 1,000 attendees at a Women’s Conference in Syracuse, NY–resulting in more of the state’s schools considering the use of Forgiveness Curriculum Guides;
- Developed Forgiveness Education videos featuring her puppet Lily through the Puppets For Peace Foundation she established 13-years-ago; and,
- Introduced Dr. Enright and his staff to two native-Rwandan missionaries who quickly agreed to teach the IFI Forgiveness Education Program in three grade schools they established following the Rwandan Civil War and Genocide.
Mary Lou first contacted the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) more than seven years ago just days after her second Chiari Malformation brain surgery (technically known as posterior fossa decompression surgery) at a Milwaukee, WI hospital. She had learned that IFI-founder Dr. Robert Enright was pioneering Forgiveness Education work with children and she thought her passion for ventriloquism and puppets could somehow supplement those efforts.
Surgery after surgery, recovery after recovery, Mary Lou never abandoned her passion for her Puppets For Peace Foundation and its mission of “spreading peace, love and joy to others.” With love and forgiveness at the heart of all her efforts, Mary Lou says she learned “how to suffer well” and how to give hope to others who were struggling, too.
“In order to suffer well, you need to love,” Mary Lou writes in one of her website blog entries. “When suffering is accepted with love, it is no longer suffering, but is changed into joy.”
Earlier this year, Mary Lou decided to talk about Dr. Enright’s forgiveness curriculum with one of the pre-K teachers at Holy Family School–a Roman Catholic elementary school on the west edge of Syracuse. That teacher, Nancy Whelan, was so impressed that she arranged a meeting for Mary Lou with the school’s principal, Sister Christina Marie Luczynski.
Shortly after that meeting, Holy Family School officially joined the scores of other elementary schools in the state of New York and around the country that teach Forgiveness Education at every grade level. That IFI program uses proven Social Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques to teach students about the five moral qualities most important in forgiving another person–inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity–and has been scientifically proven to benefit students by decreasing anger, increasing empathy and cooperation, and improving academic achievement.
Not content to recruit just one school into the program, Mary Lou teamed up with Nancy Whelan again and this time the dynamic duo set up a display booth at the 10th Annual Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference. Together, the two women staffed a Forgiveness Education booth and tried to get forgiveness materials into the hands of every one of the more than 1,000 attendees crowded into the Convention Center for the Oct. 26 event.
Their on-site efforts and follow-up contacts resulted in several other Syracuse-area schools now considering using the IFI’s Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides. Equally important, hundreds of New York women learned about the importance of forgiveness with many of them searching online for additional information causing a spike in the number of visitors to the IFI website following the Conference.
As part of her ongoing forgiveness mission, Mary Lou is now planning to develop a series of short videos with her favorite puppet Lily about forgiveness education and love. You can view one of her pilot vignettes called “Forgiveness Education” on her Puppets For Peace website.
- How Forgiveness Benefits Kids
- Forgiveness is a Skill That Children can Learn
- Why We Need Forgiveness Education–NOW
- Testimonials from Grade School Principals in Belfast, Northern Ireland
- New Study: Forgiveness Makes Kids Happier
- 3-Years of Milwaukee, WI Inner-City Schools Teacher Evaluations
- The Impact of Teaching 5th Graders About Forgiveness Education
Editor’s Note: Details on Forgiveness Education in Rwanda will be posted here shortly.