By Casey Sprehe

In our family, we have a routine of sorts when a wrong has been done. The wrong doer must say, “I’m sorry. Do you forgive me?”

It’s a pattern my mom taught me as a young girl, and I’ve continued to use it in life.

I knew I wanted to pass it onto my kids because saying sorry and admitting I’m wrong is a humbling act. And humility goes a long way in life.

Teaching kids to say sorry at a young age, when they have done wrong, is an important habit to build. They don’t have to know the why yet, but by knowing the process and the head knowledge, it creates a habit.

They don’t even have to be truly sorry. We are just creating the rote habit in them when they are little.

Oftentimes, in social settings, children have a difficult time saying they are sorry if they have hurt another child because they aren’t used to having to say it.  In a setting with others outside one’s family, this can be intimidating, understandably so. However, if it is a habit in their daily life at home, it will come much more naturally at the playground.

We treat it as one of our “normal family phrases.” Our normal family phrases are please, thank you, I’m sorry, and I love you.  We build it into our everyday family communication. As they get older, because the habit is already ingrained in them, we can help them make the connection to their hearts.

As our kids grow, I’m challenging them more to internalize the words they say. The challenge has had a strange effect. It is challenging me!

To mean I forgive you, I mean I won’t rehash, replay or bring up past hurts. It means I won’t dwell on it. It means that I forgive you, free and clear. It means I won’t lord it over you or bring it up again when you hurt me.

I’ve been trying to live this message out, and it is super hard! No surprise – as the Christian walk is hard. Just when I think I’ve conquered one sin issue or vice in my life, God shows another way for me to be pruned.

Forgiving others as Christ forgave me is a Christian maxim that I’m being called to dig deeper into at this season of life.  My prayer is that the Lord will give me the grace to forgive as He forgave.

How do you model forgiveness in your family life?

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