Forgiveness Starts With Me



by Kylie


I’ve read the books, I’ve tried to puppeteer the apologetic conversations between my kids after a conflict, I’ve explained until my face is blue about the importance of forgiveness and how we have been forgiven much. But even though my kids were saying the right words after the fight, it is the heart that is the problem.


Daughter: It hurt my feelings when you threw my animal down the stairs.

Son: {begrudgingly says} I am sorry I hurt your feelings, that was not a good choice and I will not do it again.

Daughter: {mumbles} I forgive you.


Words. Words are powerful, don’t get me wrong, and I was glad my kids were saying it just as “rehearsed”. And there is certainly truth in saying the right words and practicing them.


But what I realized was I don’t want little robots who say what I told them to say because that is how we resolve conflict.


I want two little hearts, engaging each other with empathy and forgiveness, reconciling and restoring their relationship. This cannot come from a scripted conversation I teach; I realized I needed to model this better in my home.


For years I have tried to be intentional in apologizing to my kids when I mess up, but things started changing when I let them in on my struggles and how I deal with them.


It would be as simple as driving in the car and sharing how I lost my patience today and I had to ask God for forgiveness and not just try harder, but to really understand all Christ did for me to forgive that sin and experience the grace and joy that comes with having freedom from it.


I started praying out loud in front of them for God to give me the patience or kindness I lacked that day. That is when things started changing in our little forgiveness chats.


Kylie - Note


One night I saw this little note by my bedside. Beside it was another note, “Can we go out on a date and talk about it because I know you said you have a hard time with that sometimes too? Maybe you could tell me again some ways you have gotten better.”


That was it.

In my vulnerability, I became accessible to my child in regards to a shared struggle.


Some people think sharing struggles and asking frequent forgiveness of our children diminishes our authority in their lives. I think the opposite. I do not want my kids to think I am unapproachable or that I have achieved perfection in so many areas or do not struggle.


I think of my relationship with Jesus. I can walk through suffering with him because he has suffered, I can share my temptations because he was tempted in every way too, I can lean on him when I am weak and tired and need to pull away to be alone, because he too pulled away and became weary at times. His humanness gives him such approachability and allows me to boldly go to him for wisdom and relationship because there is no judgment. That is what I want for my kids.


Kylie - Family


Forgiveness has got to change. It can be a fun talk in the car about silly things I did as a kid and messed up (Like the time when I was 5 and I lied and told all my friends I was having a birthday party at ShoBiz- remember that place?- and had angry moms calling my mom when they showed and there was no party).


It can be a living breathing prayer of our own struggles appropriately before our kids. I have found it works best when not in the moment of the conflict, but in the daily conversations.


We talked about the parable the other day of the man who had been forgiven such a great debt and then he didn’t forgive someone who owed him pocket change in comparison (Matthew 18:21-35). We talked about how silly and foolish that servant seemed.


After all, I don’t want robots who apologize exactly like I script them to. I desire deeply 4 little hearts that feel empathy and remorse when they make a bad choice, but also can experience and give the freedom that comes with full forgiveness.

Forgiveness Starts With Me

This heartfelt, empathetic apology will not happen every time, sometimes it will be begrudgingly, and we will just keep striving and encouraging reconciliation in our home. I realize my home is a breeding ground of practicing the forgiveness they will need that will one day save a friendship or restore their marriage.


I am learning as a mom, the more I live out the forgiveness I have received and present myself as a humble sinner who has been lavished grace, the more my kids will want to give grace to each other.


Let’s model for our kids how to erase a wrong with love, let’s live our Ephesians 4:32 in our home as we giggle and stumble our way through perfecting imperfection in forgiveness.


Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32


How is forgiveness going in your home?

A struggle too for you?

Share some tips or lessons with us!


Learn more about Forgiveness – Chapter 3, In This House, We Will Giggle

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  1. Kylie-
    I love it. I just adore your heart for authenticity with your kids and the ways you challenge me to do the same. I’m gonna do more of this and less rehearsing lord willing! Thank you!
    Xoxo, ash

  2. I had tears in my eyes reading your daughter’s incredible note! I have been surprised by how difficult it can be for me to apologize to my kids and let them see my struggle with sin, rather than pretending I don’t mess up. This is a huge encouragement to continue the course and be authentic. Thank you!

  3. I’ve read this post through six different times..and each time I’ve cried. Always warms my heart when I see parents who show their children how to do things…like ask for forgiveness, or pray, or confess sin. You’re doing lots of things right, Kylie!

  4. I just had to say thank you for this. I know I should be an example for my kids, and this gave me a tangible way to do that. While reading, I got the idea to try praying with them when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed and need to calm down.

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