Tagged: “family forgiveness”
I adhere to family systems theory, which has as a major premise that one person’s actions can affect all other individuals in the family system. My question for you is this: Suppose that we have a family in which people are constantly blaming one another, taking their own frustrations out onto others in the family. If one person in a family begins to consistently and deeply practice forgiving, might this spread to the entire family, or would the others still be entrenched in blaming behavior?
I think it depends on how strongly and consistently the one who forgives is exhibiting this compared with the strength and consistency of the others’ blaming and displacing behaviors. It could be the case, for example, that if those in authority in the family start the forgiving pattern, then this could spread quickly to all others in the family. On the other hand, if the youngest child in the family, a 16-year-old, begins forgiveness patterns, this still could spread to the others, but it could take more time and persistence in the forgiving. Yet, each act of mercy and forgiveness could be setting the stage for major transformations in family patterns of interacting.
For additional information, see Family Forgiveness Guidelines.
What is the one, central issue about forgiveness that you would give to those who are preparing for marriage?
I would encourage them to get to know very deeply what forgiveness is (a moral virtue in which you practice goodness toward those who are not good to you) and is not (to forgive is not to excuse unjust behavior, to automatically reconcile when the other is a danger to you, nor to abandon the quest for justice). Then I would urge both people to examine the injustices which they suffered in their family of origin, forgive the people, and discuss the pattern of injustices together so that they do not reproduce the injustices in their own marriage.
Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.
Yes, please consider three ideas.
First, you can be aware of what I call “teachable forgiveness moments.” For example, suppose you are watching a film in which revenge is occurring. You could ask, after the film is over, “How might the story have continued if the one on whom revenge was sought decided to forgive and then seek justice in a reasonable way?”
Second, you could have a regular conversation, say once a week, at mealtimes in which you ask, “How did it go for you today? Were there any challenges? Did you consider forgiving under those circumstances?”
Third, you might consider sharing your own experiences, at least on occasion, in which you had to forgive someone at work or in some other context. The point is not to pressure family members to forgive, but to show them the way by your example.
Learn more at Family Forgiveness Guidelines.