Editor’s Note: On the weekends during the month of September, we’ll be featuring excerpts from Barbara Canale’s new daily devotional for parents of teens, Hope and a Whole Lotta Prayer. In the introduction, the author describes this books as “a vitamin to boost the soul.” Enjoy these reflections on how parents of teens can survive–and thrive–during those turbulent years, by turning to God in the troubled and joyful times. –Barb
Forgiveness Has Eternal Significance
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6:14–15).
Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to forgive? Perhaps our brains are hard-wired to retaliate when someone hurts us. But what if our kids upset us through disappointment? Consider how you’ve become disillusioned. Does your child act careless or unappreciative? As parents we want to teach our kids and help them learn from their mistakes, which usually entails some form of punishment. We justify it by saying, “It’s our job to teach them right from wrong.”
Remember that our kids’ brains are still developing. They’re still learning coping skills. Teenagers will become infuriated or frustrated by outside circumstances with friends, teachers, teammates, bosses, or coworkers. Because you are a “safe” person, they will take their exasperations out on you. Recognize misdirected anger when you see it. Then, relay to your teens how their comments made you feel without degrading them. Remind them that you will always love them and help them through any situation, especially difficult ones that weigh on their heart.
Teach your teen how to learn from a problem and move on. Don’t keep reliving it or bringing it up. Focus on forgiveness, teaching your kid that sometimes we need to forgive ourselves, too. Forgiveness has eternal significance because if you are unwilling to forgive others, God will not forgive you. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Sometimes (name) knows exactly what buttons to push to annoy me. Give me the patience to get to the bottom of the teen’s insecurities and troubles. Grant me the wisdom to react to situations as you would and not out of anger. I trust in your plan. Guide us, Lord, to the place you mean for us to be. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
From Hope and a Whole Lotta Prayer: Daily Devotions for Parents of Teenagers. Copyright Liguori Publications, 2015. Used with permission. Available at Liguori.org.
About the author:
Barbara Canale’s writing career began after she adopted her two daughters, now young adults, from Romania. She writes for the Catholic Sun in Syracuse, NY and has contributed to eleven Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotional books include the latest Hope and a Whole Lotta Prayer (2015) for parents of teenagers, the award-winning Prayers, Papers, and Play (2013) for college students, and To Have and to Hold (2014) for married couples.