The Power of Seeking Our Children’s Forgiveness

hug1 Photo by lepiaf.geo

One day when our oldest daughter was a baby – maybe nine or ten months old – I was having a particularly bad mothering day. I responded to her with grouchy irritability, using unkind words spoken in an unloving way.

Later that day, I confessed to my very wise Mommy mentor how terribly I felt about my response to Dacey.  She was just a baby, and I had been so harsh!  I couldn’t shake the guilt that plagued me. My friend gave me some advice that has had a profound impact on the way I practice parenting.  She said:

Tell her that you are sorry and ask her to forgive you. Of course, she won’t understand your words, but it will confirm the sincerity of the apology in your heart, and you’ll be released from that guilt so you can move forward with your day in a healthy state of mind.

Following that advice marked the beginning of a practice I passionately believe is powerful in parenting: seeking the forgiveness of our children when we have wronged them. As I continue in this practice, I’ve learned three important truths:

1) Parents aren’t perfect.

In the daily-ness of parenting, it’s easy to hone in on the ways we feel our children have wronged us.  A bowl of popcorn dumped out on a freshly vacuumed carpet or a meltdown in the checkout aisle of the market can cause us to focus our energies on the many ways our children aren’t perfect.

Yet I find that when I acknowledge my own shortcomings to my children, it reminds me of my imperfections which inspires a spirit of mercy and forgiveness when their imperfections on are on display. It also allows my children to grow up with a healthy perception of me.  Everyone makes mistakes – even Mama.

2) Forgiveness restores relationships.

All of us have parenting moments of which we are not proud.  We need only access hurtful moments from our own childhoods for a vivid reminder of the power of a parent’s words and actions.  But when we operate under the truth that we aren’t perfect and we will make mistakes, we are encouraged to act quickly to make amends with the child we have hurt – both confessing our wrong and seeking forgiveness.

In most every relationship, the act of asking for forgiveness for a wrong can go a long way towards healing a wounded spirit.

3) Modeling teaches volumes about the power of forgiveness

Both of my daughters (even my two year old) will very often ask for forgiveness when they have acted in a way that is hurtful, upsetting, or against the rules of our home.  I’ve never sat down and taught them how to do this, nor have I ever insisted that they do so.  What they have learned about asking for forgiveness, they have learned from their father and me.

We are very imperfect, and so they have had many opportunities to grant forgiveness to us when we have wronged them.

The older we get, the more difficult it can be to acknowledge when we have wronged someone, and our own stubborn pride threatens to preclude us from experiencing the very healthy process of restoring a strained relationship.  Humbling myself to ask for my children’s forgiveness often involves a very intentional act of choosing what I know is right over what I feel is right. Yet as I see the fruits of compassion and tenderness grow in my children, I am encouraged to continue practicing the act and art of forgiveness.

Have you found yourself asking one of your children to forgive you? What role does forgiveness play in the dynamics within your family?

November 13th: Weekend Links

peekaboo Photo by Josephers

What has your family created or come across lately that you would like to share with the rest of the Simple Kids community?  Email me and I’ll feature it in an upcoming Showcase!

As you may know, this season brings an abundance of amazing crafting and gifting ideas. The weekend reading links I’ve collected are just a sampling of the incredible ideas I’ve come across in recent weeks:

Simply Practical:

Complete Organizing Solutions: Plan Ahead for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Mom in the City: 10 Ways to Have a Green(er) Thanksgiving
the long thread: handmade GIFT GUIDE 2009
Crunchy Chicken: Buy Hand for the Holidays ideas and links
MotheringDotCommunity Forums: Mothering’s Frugal Gift Ideas Contest

Inspired Projects:

Doodles’ Place: Fall Suncatchers
Mama-Om: The Pace of Things (finger knitting)
Acorn Pies: How to Make Acorn People
Living Locurto: Easy DIY Wall Art for Kids (guest post from Emily of Remodeling This Life)
Playful Learning: Writing Center for a Friend

Do tell! What have you written or read this week that you would like to share with other SK readers?

What We’re Reading: Kisses for Daddy and Fanny

Two reviews of charming books for What We’re Reading Wednesday from our SK review team:

Baby and Toddler

from Catherine (Adventures with Kids)

Kisses for Daddy, by Frances Watts and David Legge

kissesBaby Bear is grumbly, so when Daddy Bear asks him to give mum and dad a big bear kiss and get ready for bed, he says ‘No, no kisses for Daddy’.  But Daddy Bear is not deterred, maybe he can have a koala kiss, or a crocodile kiss, or a bat kiss?  But no, no kisses for daddy.  Will Daddy Bear get a kiss?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

This book is adorable.  A reminder for parents that a bit of humour can help when there’s a conflict with your child.  A chance for your toddler to read along and practise saying ‘”no” without confrontation.  And an opportunity for a few hugs and kisses as you role play how different animals might kiss their baby.  This book is perfect to read for bedtime on those nights when you’ve had a long day and you’re not sure you want to read stories, because it is sure to put a smile on your face.

Preschool

from Emily (Homespun Light)

fannyFanny by Holly Hobbie is about a crafty little girl who desperately wants a Connie doll. After all, everyone has them. Fanny’s mom, however, is not such a big fan of the dolls. Fanny is upset that she can’t have a Connie, but then she takes matters into her own hands and sews her own doll. When it’s done, Fanny decides it doesn’t look like a Connie after all. Thus, Annabell is created.

Fanny’s friends aren’t so keen on her little creation, and for a bit, Fanny isn’t sure she loves her funny-looking doll, either. At night, Fanny starts to wonder if Annabell is lonely or afraid. She pulls her out of the drawer and snuggles her, feeling how soft and cuddly she is. From then on, they are inseparable.

Readers of the book will enjoy playing with their own paper doll Annabells included with this book!

Simple As That: Creating an Art Wall

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“That’s how you know if it’s art – if it’s good enough to hang on a wall.”
– Louise in Max and Ruby, “Max’s Work of Art”

I think Louise is on to something here.  Don’t we all love to have our best work and most colorful accomplishments put on display for others to enjoy and appreciate?

I am not much of a decorator or designer.  It seems that all of the good design sense in my family went to my sister (the artist).  But one thing I do have in abundance is the the art work created by each of my children.

What began as a quick solution to distract the eye away from the ugly wood paneling featured in our 1930s-era house quickly became a permanent fixture in our home: the art wall.

Sometimes my husband or I will choose some of the week’s best creations to hang on the wall, but more often than not, each of the girls will choose a piece they are particularly proud of and with beaming smiles and much pride affix it to one of (now several) walls of art in our home:

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As you can see, our art wall speaks of simplicity: rather than mattes and frames, we’ve gone with scotch tape. This way the collections can be ever-changing and ever-rotating with very little fuss.  Some of our very favorite pieces have been put away to be framed – someday – but for now we are enjoying the minimalist approach.

Does your home display the artwork of children? Do you hang art on the walls or on the refrigerator? Does it decorate the bedrooms, the main rooms, or the kitchen? I would love to hear about the art walls in your homes!

November 6th: SK Showcase and Weekend Links

toytrain Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov

Friday is Showcase Day here at Simple Kids, and this week Bonnie (Teaching Pirates) submitted an example of a practical way that we as parents can always be connecting our children’s play to what they are learning:

We all know children learn from play. Every now and then its nice to pause and observe this in action.

My pirates are currently train-obsessed. Over time, their train play has become more complex and detailed. Sometimes I join in, contribute my ideas, answer questions, but mostly they just go for it on their own.

So what can be learned from train sets?  Here’s a few observations that come to mind:

Setting up the track
~ measurement and spatial concepts
~ shape and size
~ negotiation, sharing and listening to other people (when working together)
~ planning skills

Playing
~ the need for rules and systems
~ taking turns, patience
~ how magnets work
~ social skills for working with others (through role play – our trains all seem to have names and characters)
~ language relating to city/country life, trains, people, traffic, accidents, the list is endless depending on which way the game goes!

So cherish their play, encourage it, and let them guide you to whatever they are ready to “learn” next.

Thank you, Bonnie!

Don’t forget to check the Showcase FAQ – you never know what you might be inspired to share.

And now, your weekend reading:

Simply Practical

SugarDoodle: Thanksgiving Thankful Countdown
Steady Mom: How to Get Out of the House
La Vida Dulce: Why I Pay My Kids in Monopoly Money (via Musings of a Housewife)

Simply Delicious

Fix Me A Snack: Stuffed Dates
simply breakfast: (egg in a hole)

Inspired Projects

Kids Craft Weekly: Simple Cards
Scribbit: How to Make Corn Husk Dolls

Inspired Images

beauty that moves: i took a walk yesterday
GardenMama: The Lion, The Butterfly, and The Frog

Inspired Words

API Speaks: The Messages We Send Our Children
Zen Family Habits: The Secret Life of High Energy Parents

What did you read or write this week that you might like to share with the SK community?