Tagged: “Children”

Recently, one of my high school students approached me and said this, “I am kind of ambivalent about forgiveness.  If I forgive, some of the other students seem to think that I am a weakling.” I was not sure how to answer this. Do you have some insights for me?

The student is confusing forgiveness with giving in to others’ demands. This is not forgiveness. To forgive is to know that what the other person did is wrong and yet mercy is offered nonetheless. When one forgives, one also asks for justice and so this idea of weakness or giving in is not correct. There are two basic ways of distorting forgiveness: to let the other have power over you or to seek power over the other because of that person’s transgressions. True forgiveness avoids these extremes.

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How to Help People in Ukraine Right Now

When Russian President Vladimir Putin met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Kremlin earlier this month, Mr. Putin recited a crude Russian joke about Sleeping Beauty. Comparing the fairy tale princess to Ukraine, he said, “Whether you like it or not my beauty, you will need to put up with all I do to you.”

When he later was told about the malicious remark, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to Mr. Putin by saying, “Ukraine is indeed a beauty but she’s not yours.” (Source: Time Magazine)

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, people around the world are seeking ways to help those in Ukraine being impacted by the destruction and those fleeing the country to try to stay alive. An article in yesterday’s online Time Magazine provides some real possibilities.

The article is titled Here’s What You Can Do to Help People in Ukraine Right Now.” It outlines simple steps anyone can take to help, provides links to several international aid organizations, and lists half a dozen Ukrainian and US nonprofits that are providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Read more:

Forgiveness as a Missing Piece to Peace Between Ukraine and Russia, (Dr. Enright’s latest blog in Psychology Today)

Another list of Ukraine aid organizations (PBS radio station KQED, California)

Photographs of Ukraine Under Attack (Time Magazine)

The Ukraine Invasion – Explained (NPR)

Mapping and Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine (USA Today)

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I have a 17-year-old son who is challenging me a lot.  I forgive.  He talks back.  I forgive again.  He is disrespectful again. I forgive again and again.  It is hard.  Help!

I say this to those who are in relationships in which one needs to maintain the relationship: Forgiveness under this circumstance becomes more difficult, but all the more necessary.  As you forgive, and your anger lessens, at that point try approaching your son and talk gently (as well as firmly) about his disrespectful behavior to you.  Also, and this is very important, try to uncover any anger your child may be carrying inside his heart that he needs to examine.  He may need to forgive people who have hurt him.  He may be displacing that anger onto you.  If you focus only on changing his behavior from disrespectful to respectful, you might miss his damaged heart in need of forgiving those who broke his heart.

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How can parents help children to forgive their divorce when the parents say different things about why they divorced?

I think the key is for the parents first to realize that the children are now vulnerable because of the divorce and because of what led to the divorce.  With that in mind, the parents need to be careful in not letting their own anger at their former spouse lead to a competition for the children’s affection.  In other words, each spouse needs to be careful not to paint a very negative picture of the other to the children.  After all, both still are parents to the children and so the divorced adults need to preserve the personhood of the other spouse to the children.  This is not easy especially when deep resentment is present.  Therefore, it may be best if the spouses first forgive each other and then be aware that the children should not become victims of resentment by the parents disparaging the other spouse to the children.  When ready, the custodial parent might consider helping the children to forgive by first apologizing to the children for this family challenge of divorce.

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I think it is so important to foster forgiveness in families.  Children need to learn to forgive.  What advice can you give to parents for this?

Yes, I agree that it is of vital importance that this happen so that we can fortify children against the injustices that likely will occur when they are adults.  Knowing how to forgive can be a protection against the build-up of unhealthy anger.  Here is a link to one of my essays on the Psychology Today website that gives details on how a family can become a forgiving community:

Is Your Family a Forgiving Community?

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