Tagged: “adolescents”

I am a parent with a child who is angry.  This started when my husband divorced me.  I say my child is angry because of rather quick temper tantrums.  Yet, when I talk with him about his anger, he is in denial, telling me that he has no anger.  What advice do you have for me to begin helping him to see that, indeed, he is angry, actually quite angry?

First, I think you need patience with your child.  He is deeply hurt because of the divorce.  I say that because you say his temper tantrums began in the context of the divorce.  Rather than discussing his anger, I recommend that you gently talk with him about his wounded heart.  Give him time to see that he is deeply hurt by his father leaving.  Once he can see this, then talking about forgiveness is a next step.  Once your child has the safety-net of forgiveness (that can lessen hurt and anger), he then likely will be open to seeing that he is angry and that there is a solution to it–forgiveness.

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Partnership Achievement Award Presented to Mary Lou Coons

Mary Lou Coons, founder of the Puppets For Peace Foundation, has been recognized with the “Healing Hearts Hero Award” by the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI). The award recognizes exceptional efforts by individuals who have partnered with the IFI and its co-founder, Dr. Robert Enright, to advance the broader understanding and application of the virtue of forgiveness.

Mary Lou Coons

An always-cheerful optimist, Mary Lou excels at using every tool available to her to overcome life’s adversities–like the brain and spinal cord maladies that have caused her to endure years of debilitating pain as well as repeated life-threatening (and life-saving) surgeries.

In fact, just days after her second Chiari Malformation brain surgery (technically known as posterior fossa decompression surgery) in 2012, Mary Lou made her first call to the IFI after learning that Dr. Enright was pioneering Forgiveness Education work with children. She was convinced that her passion for ventriloquism and puppets could somehow supplement those efforts so she volunteered her services.

In the ten years since then, Mary Lou has become a self-appointed “forgiveness ambassador” on a mission to teach as many others as she can about the benefits of forgiveness. Her efforts have included:

  • Single-handedly convincing her parish elementary school (Holy Family School, Syracuse, NY) to adopt and teach Forgiveness Education in all of its classrooms from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade;
  • Organizing and setting up a display booth to promote forgiveness to the more than 1,000 attendees at a Women’s Conference in Syracuse – resulting in more of the state’s schools considering the use of Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides; 
  • Creating and producing three video recordings featuring her red-haired puppet Lily that are used by elementary school teachers to help illustrate Forgiveness Education principles to students;
  • Introducing IFI staff to teacher-missionaries in Rwanda in order to add that country to the list of more than 30 around the world where Forgiveness Education is being taught;
  • Producing a 10-minute online video version of Rising Above the Storm Clouds, Dr. Enright’s storybook for children, that is used in the 3rd and 4th grade programs.

“Despite all that activity, Mary Lou never asked for a penny of payment or reimbursement,” Dr. Enright said in recognizing her with the Healing Hearts Hero Award. “Through the Puppets for Peace Foundation she set up 15 years ago, she continues to make important contributions that focus particularly on the lives of one of our most important assets—our children.”

According to Mary Lou, the mission of her foundation is “to help spread peace, love and forgiveness. One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is by working with Forgiveness Education programs because it brings happiness to my heart as well as to the hearts of so many others.”

Visit the Puppets for Peace Foundation website.

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Another question for my academic work:  Was the Hebl and Enright (1993) study the very first empirically-based publication on forgiveness or is there an earlier publication that uses research to examine forgiveness?

Yes, there is a research article published in 1989.  It is an empirically-based study that is not a forgiveness intervention.  Instead it is an examination of how children, adolescents, and adults think about forgiveness.  Data were collected and statistics applied to the responses.  This is the reference to that work:

Enright, R. D., Santos, M., & Al-Mabuk, R. (1989).  The adolescent as forgiver. Journal of Adolescence, 12, 95-110.

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Liberia Seeks Peace Through Forgiveness

A groundbreaking Forgiveness Education program initiated by the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) has positively impacted the lives of more than 8,000 people in Liberia, West Africa, over the past five years. The objective of that program is to “help plant the seed of forgiveness in the hearts of people in post-war communities to spur reconciliation and national cohesion.”
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The Liberia Forgiveness Education Program (LFEP) is an initiative organized and funded by the IFI in conjunction with Church Aid Inc. (CAI), the relief and development arm of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church International. Liberia was targeted for the program in the aftermath of a horrendous 15-year civil war that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 250,000 Liberians from 1989-2004 and the displacement of more than a million others from their homes.
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“There is still a serious need to bring closure to the civil war and that means reconciliation through forgiveness,” according to Bishop Kortu K. Brown, Chairman/CEO of Church Aid and National Coordinator of the LFEP. “If Liberians will forge peace and reconciliation, they must forgive. Without forgiveness there will be no genuine reconciliation.” 
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Forgiveness Education class at Mother Tegeste Stewart Apostolic Pentecostal School in Brewerville, Monrovia, Liberia.

Bishop Brown has been working with IFI co-founder Dr. Robert Enright to implement elementary and secondary school Forgiveness Education initiatives (including for all 500 students at the Mother Tegeste Stewart Apostolic Pentecostal School in Brewerville), after-school forgiveness education clubs, and Sunday School forgiveness lessons. Since 2017, Group Forgiveness interventions also have been incorporated into the LFEP thanks to Bishop Brown’s significant role in governmental affairs.

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Last year, for example, Bishop Brown was appointed  to the Nimba County Conflict Resolution Committee by Liberian President Dr. George Manneh Weah. That Committee mediates post-civil war land disputes that have recently become violent. Bishop Brown and Dr. Enright then jointly developed a strategy for the Committee’s initial session called “Reconciliation Through Forgiveness: A Program Concept for Community Bridge-Building” that included a 3-day awareness workshop on healing and reconciliation for 150 community, religious, and governmental leaders. 
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“I suggested that approach, in all humility, because dialogue will not be fruitful if those engaging in the dialogue are still very angry about past grievances,” Dr. Enright explained. “Forgiveness is a scientifically-supported way of eliminating that anger.” 

Dr. Robert Enright (via Skype) and Bishop Kortu Brown, LFEP national coordinator, hosted a forgiveness seminar called “Renewing Communities Through Forgiveness Education” on May 13, 2022 in Brewerville, Liberia.

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Bishop Brown said he totally agrees with Dr. Enright’s assessment: “I think that interventions like the Enright Group Forgiveness process are critical to bringing peace and harmony to the communities we seek to serve in Liberia.”
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In addition to being Chairman/CEO of CAI, Bishop Brown is the General Overseer of the New Water in the Desert Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Brewerville, and president of both the Liberia Council of Churches (LLC) and the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL). Despite dealing with thousands of local deaths due to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak and the nation-wide lockdown of schools due to COVID-19, Bishop Brown has persistently pursued forgiveness initiatives in the four-county area that encompasses the capital city of Monrovia.
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Liberia is Africa’s oldest independent nation and one of the country’s poorest. It was established by freed slaves from the United States in 1847. With 75% of its population being youth under the age of 25, about half of all Liberians live on less than two US dollars a day, according to the World Bank. In Monrovia, less than half the city’s 1.5 million people have access to working toilets, according to Liberia’s Water and Sewer Corporation.
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“Our program for peace, based on forgiveness education, is possibly one of the major answers to societal and individual unrest within communities beset by poverty and violence,” Dr. Enright added. “I believe it is the missing piece to the peace puzzle.”
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So, Then, What Has Changed in These Past 10 Years?

I re-read one of our posts here at the International Forgiveness Institute.  It was dated February 29, 2012. What surprised me is this: It was as if I were reading a contemporary news item from 2022.

As you read the 10-year-old essay below, consider asking yourself this: Has anything changed for forgiveness within societies in that timespan? What must we do so that in 2032 the news is not a repetition of the past 20 years?

Here is that essay from 2012:

Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker Movement is alleged to have said that a good society is one in which it is easy to be good. I write this blog post today as I reflect on some recent news stories (posted in our Forgiveness News section of this website). We have the shooting of innocent teenagers in Ohio and we have the murder of a 4-year-old.  Anger can sometimes be deadly for the other person who just happens to be in the angry one’s way.

I wonder what those outcomes would have been had those with the weapons been bathed in forgiveness education from age 5 though 18. I wonder what those outcomes would have been had the weapon-carriers, as they grew up, practiced forgiveness in the home. I wonder.

The wounds in the world are deep and everlasting, it seems. What we do here at the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc. (helping people if they so choose to learn to forgive and then practice forgiveness) will never be out of date. Yet, my big worry (yes, it is a big worry) is this: Will there be sufficient laborers in the forgiveness vineyard to bring the virtue of forgiveness to children so that they can become fortified against the grave injustices that come to too many too often as adults?

I worry about those 6-year-olds, sitting now in classrooms, learning their mandated ABCs, without also learning the ABCs of how to deal with injustice. You see, society is not emphasizing forgiveness. We are not being taught forgiveness on a regular basis. We are in a society where it is not easy to be a good forgiver. And so too many of those who are bullied in school do not even think to forgive those who perpetrate the bullying. In Ohio this week, one bullied student’s response was a gun and then murder.

So much pain in the world and yet too many societies do not have the vision and the resources to bring forgiveness education far and wide. Question for those who are listening: The next time a city wishes to build a $250 million complex for athletics or entertainment or whatever, who has the persuasive skills and accompanying wisdom and courage to ask that one half of one percent of that be siphoned off to forgiveness education? If we could go back and ask the deceased students in Ohio or the innocent 4-year-old what is the higher priority….what do you think they would say to us?

Society, what do you think?

Robert

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