Parenting Resources

Adolescents Need Parental Guidance to Understand Forgiveness

Since adolescents’ brains are still immature, they may misinterpret others’ emotions and may have difficulty viewing the world from another’s perspective. Your adolescent will especially benefit from your insight and encouragement as he learns to empathize with and forgive others.

Research demonstrates that ‘forgiveness intervention’ programs also benefit adolescents.  One small study of teens whose parents had divorced found that those teens who experienced the forgiveness program were not only more likely to forgive their parents, but their psychological well-being also improved(Freedman S and Knupp A.  The Impact of Forgiveness on Adolescent Adjustment to Parental Divorce.  J of Divorce and Remarriage.  2003;  39(2):  135-165.

Another study of middle school children found forgiveness education participants had improved attitudes toward school, teachers, parents and even had better grades(Gambara MD.  School-based forgiveness education in the management of trait anger in early adolescents.  Dissertation Abstracts International:  Section B:  The Sciences and Engineering.  63(11-B), 5549.)

  • Spend time with your adolescent – listening to their hurts / feelings
  • Help your teen see the world from another’s perspective. 
  • Share with your teen stories when you have asked forgiveness of others – and when you have forgiven others who did not even apologize.  Discuss how your own emotions are healthier because of your attitude of forgiveness.
  • Teens may find it helpful to write a letter describing their feelings of hurt and disappointment – and may never need to send the letter.
  • Continue to be a good role model.  You will find many opportunities to demonstrate forgiveness when your teen hurts and offends you.  State your emotions and articulate, “I forgive you.”

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