When I facilitate class on the topic of Unresolved Anger, one of the traps of adolescence, I emphasize that learning to ask one’s child or teen for forgiveness goes beyond saying “I’m sorry”. Of course, the “I’m sorry” can be said in a sincere way and it can be very authentic. However, if one chooses, one can go deeper. Asking for forgiveness is taking responsibility for the hurt one has caused. It is modeling a contrite heart, showing humility, and giving your teen a chance to practice something biblical…forgiving.
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
You know how it can go. A parent says, “I’m sorry”, and then the teen many times may say, “It’s ok, Dad” or “It’s ok, Mom” and then maybe add a few more of his own words. The truth is that when we have reacted in anger, said ugly words, yelled, or just brushed off the feelings of our teen we have wronged him. It’s not ok. The truth is sometimes we make mistakes whether we mean to make them or not. In life we hurt each other.
However, God gives a way to heal relationships and that is through the act of sincerely asking for forgiveness… or for giving forgiveness to another. I have said to one of my daughters in the past after making a biting comment, “Honey, I know I was wrong to raise my voice at you earlier tonight. I knew right away I had hurt you. I feel badly about that and so wish I had not used that tone of voice. When you can I hope you will forgive me. ” That is not easy. But what do I value most? I value healing a wound in my relationship with the young woman who God gave me to love. I DO love her. I want restoration. And to achieve that I decide to practice being humble. It is a significant piece of the act of pursuing my teen and protecting the relationship I have with her.
If you decide to try this and find it hard to say the words at first, use the journal. That would be a good start.