Let It Go: Learning to move on and forgive your kid

Our kids do things that drive us nuts and make us crazy. That is a reality of parenting. 

They don’t listen to us when we try to guide them, they wait until the last minute to do their homework, they leave their rooms a mess, they get bad grades, they can just be plain rude, they complain, they don’t come home when we tell them a specific time, they are brutal to their siblings, they glue themselves to the TV or video games when we tell them to get ready for dinner and the list goes on. 

They are simply being kids, and that is what they do. They will either apologize (or they won’t) or we will make them say “I’m Sorry.” The question is, how do we let it go? How do we forgive? And why is forgiveness so important?

Kids are like tornado's. They swirl in, do the damage and then suddenly things return to normal after the storm. That’s what they think. Kids are unaware of the damage the storm does in its wake, leaving the parent feeling drained and exhausted and often resentful and angry. 

Forgiveness means letting go of anger and resentment; it also means to let go of feelings of revenge.  Sometimes when our kids do things and we feel angry about it, we hold a grudge. Grudges are bad -- bad for the parent and equally bad for the kids. 

Holding a grudge and consistently bringing it back to the parent-child relationship is damaging to the kids. Reminding kids over and over again about the “bad behaviors” they have engaged in is unnecessary and not an effective way to parent. 

Have a talk, express your thoughts, attempt to understand their point of view, accept their apology and move on.  Parents are the ultimate role models, and if a parent can’t let go, the child will learn to hold grudges, too, and will never feel they are forgiven and can move on.

Human beings are flawed. We make mistakes all of the time. This is an important and crucial aspect of life. That’s what makes us so interesting.   

Grudges are unhealthy. Mayo Clinic reports that if you're unforgiving, you might:
  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
Research shows us that forgiveness is essential to life and to being happy. If a parent can’t let something go, and the anger is welling up, that parent should process their feelings with another parent, family member, friend, peer or mental health professional. 
According to Mayo Clinic, letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem
How do we forgive?

Being aware of and insightful about our own behavior is crucial in forgiveness. Understanding that forgiveness is healthy and leads us to happy relationships is important.   
The more we practice forgiveness, the easier it gets. Remember, practice makes perfect (or close to it).

Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you've reacted and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. Practice empathy, which is trying to understand emotionally what happened from the point of view of the person who wronged you.   

“The Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives” states the following: “How did I forgive when it was hard? I came to this realization: No one ever gets to the end of their life and thinks, ‘I wish I stayed angry longer.’ They generally say one of three things: ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I forgive you’ or 'I love you.’ ”

Allyson Tomchin is a licensed psychotherapist and founder of Directive Energy, a counseling practice in Hollywood. She can be reached at 954-925-9071, atomchin@directiveenergy.com and directiveenergy.com. She is currently accepting new clients.

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