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Forgiving Your Parents

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
In order to forgive parents children must acknowledge the offenses they have committed against them.

Family Counseling Ministries   -

Many children feel resentment toward their parents, but they deny the fact that they have allowed a root of bitterness to grow in their hearts. In Article Dr. Dunlap explains that it is necessary for children to list the specific ways that their parents have hurt them. Then children can thoroughly forgive their parents before God. This article is a checklist to help children identify the ways that parents typically offend their children.

Listed below are some of the offenses that parents typically commit against their children. As children read through this list, it is a good idea to check the items that apply to their individual situations. Then they should use those items as a guide to specifically forgive their parents.

I forgive my parents for:

___1. Imposing discipline that they later wished they had not imposed

___2. “Calling me names” in an attempt to correct me

___3. Not always encouraging me to be all that I can be

___4. Often being inattentive to me when I am speaking to them

___5. Sometimes implying that I am stupid for not already having certain knowledge or information when they are instructing me

___6. Not attempting to understand the reasons why I get angry

___7. Failing to instruct me when I have been disobedient

___8. Not allowing me to make an increasing number of decisions on my own

___9. Nagging me to coerce me to do things

___10. Not allowing me to feel the consequences of my mistakes

___11. Belittling me to other people (brothers, sisters, family members, friends, etc.)

___12. Not allowing me to enter into adult conversations

___13. Failing to accept and respect the differences in temperaments and personality traits between my siblings and me

___14. Punishing me in anger

___15. Disciplining me inconsistently

___16. Seldom asking me for forgiveness

___17. Not encouraging me when I am disappointed or discouraged

___18. Speaking negatively about my friends

___19. Using sarcasm as a means of discipline

___20. Not requiring me to make restitution when it is appropriate for me to do so

___21. Spanking me in front of other people (siblings, friends, other family members, etc.)

___22. Not helping me appreciate my unique abilities

___23. Not showing the same courtesy to me that they show to others

___24. Threatening to perform certain acts of discipline, but failing to follow through

___25. Frequently overreacting to me or to situations

___26. Sometimes being out of control when they spank me

___27. Losing their tempers in front of me

___28. Not often encouraging and supporting my personal interests

___29. Resorting to yelling and screaming as part of their method for controlling or disciplining me

___30. Withdrawing their affection from me after disciplining me

___31. Not praising me when I choose not to repeat a bad behavior after I had the opportunity to do so

___32. Failing to pay me frequent compliments

___33. Holding a grudge against me

___34. Saying with the tone of their voice, “Go away. I don’t want to be bothered.”

___35. Not making clear who the leader is in our home

___36. Using a lot of emotionalism to solve problems in our home

___37. Not usually hearing or accepting my ideas and suggestions for problem solving

___38. Not usually allowing me to “have my own opinion”

___39. Sometimes playing favorites with my siblings and me

___40. Sometimes not giving me the attention that I need

___41. Sometimes making me feel less important than other people in our home

___42. Sometimes using intimidation as a disciplinary means

___43. Not giving me the opportunity to learn to pray by listening to their prayers

___44. Being inconsistent in reading Christian literature aloud to me

___45. Being inconsistent in their personal devotional time

___46. Seldom using the Bible to make decisions in our family

___47. Seldom praying together as a family, except at mealtimes

___48. Not having regular family devotions

___49. Not regularly witnessing to lost people

___50. Not memorizing Scripture together as a family

___51. Not consistently teaching me the biblical principles for living an obedient Christian life

___52. Not having a good understanding of how my needs change, as I get older

___53. Not knowing my friends’ names

___54. Rarely having time to play games with me

___55. Not spending time individually with me, doing things that I enjoy

___56. Not looking me in the eye when I talk to them

___57. Not expressing appropriate physical affection for me by hugging and touching me

___58. Not telling me that I am special to them

___59. Not pointing out positive character qualities that they see in me

___60. Often varying their approach in how they deal with me

___61. Seldom telling me what to expect from them

___62. Seldom sacrificing personal time in order to be with me

___63. Not being as involved as they should be with my discipline

___64. Not making an effort to keep the romance alive in their marriage

___65. Not making an effort to maintain a good relationship with one another

___66. Hitting me in anger

___67. Not taking an active role in my education

___68. Not touching or hugging me every day

___69. Not telling me on a consistent basis that they are proud of me

___70. Not being a good role model for me

___71. Not consistently modeling the kind of behavior that I should imitate

___72. Not responding calmly when I say hurtful things or when I act disobediently

___73. Not teaching me how to respond if I disagree with them

___74. Not making an effort to improve their parenting skills, by attending classes, reading books, etc.

___75. Bribing me with a reward for good behavior, such as, “If you behave we’ll go to McDonalds.”

___76. Check any number below that applies to you:

___77. I feel as though my relationship with my parents is hopeless

___78. I don’t settle disagreements with my parents quickly enough

___79. I’m afraid to “get involved” in a close relationship with my parents

___80. I’m afraid to let my parents know who I really am

___81. My past mistakes have damaged my relationship with my parents

___82. I feel as though I am my parents’ slave

___83. I’m afraid my parents will abandon me

___84. I do not feel that my parents accept me or understand me

___85. I sense a “distance” in my relationship with my parents

___86. I do not communicate with my parents

___87. I do not feel as though my parents are “on my side”


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