The Impact of Seeking A Child’s Forgiveness

My mother only asked for my forgiveness two times.

I can only remember my mother seeking forgiveness two times in my life. One time was in college. I had just come home for Christmas break.

After unpacking and catching up, she showed me this outfit that she had been sewing. She had hoped to wear it to her Christmas party, but knew she wouldn’t have time to finish it. I secretly thought how fun it would be to surprise her by putting on the finishing touches. I was very excited and so convinced that she would be excited too!

The Impact of Seeking A Child'sForgiveness

 I worked hard the next day and could hardly wait for her to get home from work! I hung the finished product on her bedroom door just like she used to do when she completed something for me, often in the wee hours of the morning.

When she arrived home from work and saw it, she was shocked! Not because she was excited…but because I had not done the trim work on it with her standard of excellence. Instead of thanking me first, she gasped! The look on her face said it all.

My spirit deflated big time. I walked away…and I was devastated.

Even as a young adult, my spirit was crushed by her reaction. If I felt this as a grown child, what must our little ones feel when we crush their spirits?

She later came back and asked me to forgive her. Because this was only the second time in my whole life I had received an apology from her, I remember this experience vividly. That apology meant the world to me!

I was wrong; will you forgive me?

Saying “I was wrong; please forgive me” has always been important to me – both as a child and a parent.

When your child is disobedient or defiant, what if they came to you and said, “Mom or dad, I am sorry for my attitude. I was wrong, will you forgive me?”

As parents, our hearts melt when we hear those tender words. And the relationship can move forward.

Leave a legacy of forgiveness.

As a single parent, my dear mother left me a legacy of faith because of her love for Jesus. But as a child, I just longed to hear her say, “I am sorry” because I knew there were times when she was wrong. I knew in my heart that outbursts of anger and a critical spirit were wrong.

As an adult I know they are wrong too, whether towards my children or my husband. I have learned in my own marriage, the most powerful words I can say are, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Those same seven words are crucial in parenting. Even when my kids were 90% the problem, if I was 10%, I was 100% wrong!! When we miss the mark, we need to seek forgiveness.

Parents, we have an opportunity to be an example to our children if we apologize to them – or our spouse – when we are wrong. We can leave a legacy of forgiveness!

Accepted and loved.

If sin is sin, it needs to be confessed. Our children feel accepted and loved when we apologize for crossing the line.

It really isn’t that hard to say something like….

“I am sorry. I got angry and wasn’t thinking straight. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

“I spoke before I knew the whole story. I blew it. I apologize. Will you forgive me?”

However you want to say it, be assured that your children understand “will you forgive me” when it comes from an authentic, repentant parent.

And if you seldom say it, they will notice that too, like I did with my mother.

A Powerful Example.

What a powerful example we can be to our kids if we acknowledge our wrong behavior and apologize. Just think how these simple, yet powerful words can be a model for them seeking forgiveness from us, the Lord, or anyone they wrong.

I love how my three year old grandson Jackson, even with tears streaming down his face, will say, “Momma, I am sorry, will you forgive me?” I am pretty sure it’s because he has heard her ask him the same question. It goes both ways!

Questions for reflection:

  1. Will you seek your child’s or spouse’s forgiveness this week even if you are only 10% wrong?
  2. What are you doing to leave a legacy of forgiveness in your family?

Think how our children feel when we seek their forgiveness.

Think how the Lord feels when we seek His forgiveness!

When we model forgiveness, we are not only touching the heart of our children but ultimately the heart of God.

From my heart,


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5 thoughts on “The Impact of Seeking A Child’s Forgiveness

  1. Thank you for your insights. Dr. Emerson regarding Eph 5:23, it would be helpful to comment on why you don’t include the rest of the verse in Ephesians 5:33, ‘love his own wife EVEN AS HIMSELF’? My thinking is that you may be trying to pare it down to keep it simple and focused which makes a lot of sense. (I may be completely off!)

    In our situation, my husband did not think it was ok to LOVE HIMSELF, to have a self or to acknowledge that his needs and desires were important. He turned toward inappropriate ways to fills this void. Only when he realised that it was ok to ‘have a self’, did the ‘Love and Respect’ issues have a place to take root. Thank you for your time. Jackie

  2. Simply being able to say the words can give release to a deeply wounded spirit. After an argument that escalated, my spouse left. That was over three years ago. I haven’t seen or heard from them since the day after. I was hurt by the way I felt I had been treated, and I was embarrassed with the way I treated her. Our relationship had declined and I didn’t know what to do. Everything I tried seemed to only make things worse… so I retreated into myself.
    I should have prayed, sought the advice of an older married man, asked her to forgive me, all of those things and more… I didn’t.
    It’s been over three years since the love of my life went away. Over a year since she divorced me.
    Not a day goes by that I don’t read the Word and pray for God’s guidance. I am not the man I was back then. I’m different. Changed by grief, regret, discovery, forgiveness, and God’s grace.
    My life is not what it was. It’s not what I would like it to be. It’s what it needs to be for me to grow into the man He wants me to be.
    Things might have been different if I had opened my heart and shared my deepest fears. Things might have changed if I had humbled myself and asked for forgiveness.
    I’ve been told that she was planning to leave anyway. She heard things about me, about my past, and her love changed to something else…
    God forgave me for my past. Jesus paid my price. I served my time and paid my debts. I wasn’t the person I was when I went in. I changed after those years inside.
    I thought I had told her about it all. I remember telling her…

    Forgiveness is so very important. It releases you from the chains of the past. It frees you to be the person God plans for you to be.
    People can change.
    Husbands can learn.
    Hearts can soften.
    Love can bloom again…
    …can’t it?