Tagged: “family”

A colleague said to me that it is child abuse to impose the education of forgiveness on unsuspecting students. How would you answer such a charge?

Good philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom. Good education is the same. Part of being wise is to know how to control one’s anger, to reduce resentment, and to forge healthy relationships in the home and in the community. Forgiveness, seen in scientific studies, is one effective way of reducing resentment and fostering better behavior and relationships. If we then deprive a child of this part of wisdom, are we somehow aiding that child’s development or stifling it? Teaching about forgiveness is far from child abuse. Deliberately withholding knowledge of forgiveness is educational deprivation, which should happen to no child.

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I am trying my best to forgive a family member who has some sustained anger, not temper tantrums, but a kind of simmering anger that comes out frequently. I now am wondering if it is harder to forgive someone for this than other issues.

I do think it may be more difficult to forgive someone who has what you call sustained “simmering anger.” You may have to forgive on a daily basis if you are in regular contact with a person who is continuously angry.  After you have forgiven to a deep enough level so that you can approach, in a civil way, this person, then it may be time to gently ask for justice.  Part of justice is to ask this person, if you feel safe with this, to begin working on the anger so that you are not hurt by it.

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How can we get parents interested in teaching their children about forgiveness?

Parents first need to understand that deep-seated resentment can build up in children’s hearts when they are treated unfairly.  They need a way of curing that resentment and forgiveness is one vital way to do that.  We need to get the word out to parents that forgiveness is a protection of the child’s heart that can be appropriated for the rest of that child’s life, even into adulthood when the storms of life can get more severe.

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Has forgiveness education in schools been studied scientifically and found to be useful?

Yes, there is evidence.  I actually answered this in another question posed to me here on October 29, 2022.  Here is that answer:

Yes, there now are scientifically-based forgiveness programs, many of which focus on stories and story characters who experience conflict and learn to resolve those conflicts.  The research shows that children and adolescents, when given a sufficient amount of time (12 or more weeks) to think about forgiveness, actually forgive to a deeper level than before they had these programs.  Here is a reference to a journal article showing this to be the case: Rapp, H., Wang Xu, J., & Enright, R.D. (2022). A meta-analysis of forgiveness education interventions’ effects on forgiveness and anger in children and adolescents. Child Development.

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