The Gift of Forgiveness

A family friend who had watched us raise our children over the years once asked my son, “What did your parents do right in raising you?” We had met up with them in Thailand in 2002 and had not seen them for a few years. She was raising her own set of children, a few years younger than my set.  Our son, at the time was a teenager. He, after going through some rough faith testing waters, had a radiant faith and was involved in leadership at his International School in Central Asia.  Our friend had known him mostly as a young boy growing up in NW China. His answer was a bit humbling but not completely surprising to me.  “They asked me to forgive them many times.”


As I look back over the years of our parenting I have to agree with my son. I believe our parenting took a steep growth spike when we learned to face our own brokenness and pain. We learned to forgive our own parents for their shortcomings, and then ask our children to forgive us when we hurt them.


There was the time when we left them for too long with our youngest son’s first grade teacher.  We needed to go to Thailand to sort out some messy team problems.  We stayed an extra week to get some R&R afterwards.  These were in the days when there was only one flight a week in and out of Central Asia to Thailand.  Our dear friend, who volunteered willing to take care of our kids, probably didn’t realize how much work mentally and physically it took to look after 3 lively school age children. (She will always be our hero!)  Our kids missed us, we missed them, it was too long and they let us know. I was angry with myself as well because in my heart I knew it would be too long when we booked our tickets, but I wasn’t vocal enough with my husband at the time.  I hadn’t learned to trust my instincts enough.  We asked them to forgive us (more than once!) and made a promise to take them back to Thailand some day.  We were able to fulfill that promise a few years later.


In the day in and day out of raising children there are numerous times when we are stretched in our patience and self-control, we speak harshly, or spank them in anger (if we spank), ignore them when they are talking to us, or at least don’t give them our full attention.  I have had to ask forgiveness when I’ve told a story I thought was funny about them that was actually embarrassing to them. We have asked them to forgive us for the effects of our anger, depression, impulsive decision-making, and contention between us at times.  The list goes on and on.


This is a beautiful humbling aspect to parenting if we but embrace it.  This is who we are – imperfect human beings yet hopefully growing and learning from our many mistakes.  Thank God for His grace and love that covers a multitude of sin.  Thank God for children who long to keep a bond with their parents. Thank God for the gift of forgiveness.


Media, Screens and Parenting

The Seattle Times recently had two interesting articles regarding media and screen time for children. The first was Monica Guzman’s article: Is Screen Time Play Time? Making Sense of Tots and Tablets.

This article brought into question the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for no screen time for children age 2 and younger, and no more than one or two hours screen time for older kids.  She is encouraging more research regarding level of brain activity for children playing with interactive screens.

The second article was called “Study: Better TV Might Improve Kids’ Behavior” by Donna Gordon Blankinship.

This was a Seattle study comparing the behavior of young children watching TV.  This article explores whether children watching educational programs have less behavioral problems than children watching more violent programs.

I suspect there will be findings of more brain activity with a child using an interactive screen then with a child watching a video or TV program.  I also suspect children watching educational programs will have less violent behavioral problems than children who are feeding on a steady diet of violent programming.  There is one point I feel is being missed in both of these articles. The point is that any type of screen time is taking away from the vital time children need to learn the essential skills of being a person. These essential skills relate to imagination, creativity, socialization, and compassion in the real three-dimensional world.  When a child is using any kind of screen they are not interacting with another person or with the real three-dimensional world around them. They are not making eye contact with anyone, not learning to read another’s face or body language.  They are not developing and practicing language with another person, which is so important for developing their imagination and creativity.   They are not using their whole body, mind and imagination to interact with the world around them. Physical movement is essential for brain development.  The brain needs the body to move to develop and make connections.  They are not learning to be patient, kind or loving with a real person. I am not saying that a child should never use a screen.  What I am saying is parents need to be vigilant about screen time.  Be wary of giving in to the temptation to hand over your phone or tablet to your small child.  You may have trouble getting it back and they will want it more and more! Instead, keep playing with them, talking to them, reading to them and providing safe opportunities for them to explore the very real world at their fingertips.  Make sure your child is not overusing screens in any form because if they are they will miss out on important experiences children need to grow into healthy happy adults.

For more information about this subject I strongly recommend reading: Parenting Well in a Media Age: Keeping Our Kids Human by Gloria Degataeno

Parenting is Like…

Parenting is like the farmer in this poem I published on my other blog:


The Farmer’s Life


The farmer’s life is one of great patience.

Sowing seeds does not result in instantaneous miracles.

Although, when the first seeds sprout and break through the ground

It certainly feels like one, (which of course it is).

We just do not get to see what has been going on,

Microscopically, beneath the surface of the earth.


Sow people!  Beloved ones!

What do you want to see more of in your lives?

Don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeals that come your way.

They expose the unwanted seeds of destruction.

Instead, cooperate with the fire and let it burn away

Focus on the good seed at hand:

Love, joy, peace, kindness, wisdom, patience and

All the good things you see and desire.

It’s one act or response at a time.


Living is becoming.

Life does not stay stagnant,

We move forward in one direction or the other.

We get to choose by our sowing

Which way we want to grow.


© 2013 Julie Clark


As parents what good things to do we want to see grow in our children?  We have the added responsibility of modeling what we would like to see.  We don’t just say do this, don’t do that, but we show over and over again to our children what we want them to become by the way we live, by the words we speak.  It is an awesome, scary responsibility but something we can learn to do well.  We can reinforce kindness by pointing it out and praising it when we see it in action. “That was so kind of you to share your cookie with your sister!”  or “Wasn’t that kind of Carrie when she helped the little boy who fell down?” We can model healthy conflict resolution and forgiveness when we work out our problems instead of sweeping them under the rug.  “Daddy hurt my feelings when he said that, but he asked me to forgive him and I did.” Or “Please forgive me for being impatient with you tonight. “


What are some examples of sowing and reaping or modeling in parenting you would like to share with us?