How to Show Mercy and Forgiveness to Your Children: Give What You Have Received

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Before adopting our son, I read The Connected Child.  I attended the weekend-long Empowered to Connect Conference.  In addition, I spent a year as a therapist, training to work with children who had been abused.


I knew the right things to do, yet, after becoming a mother, I found myself doing the right things with the wrong motives.


If I was to describe my parenting style for the first 6+ months, I would call myself the angry attachment parenting mama.


Instead of viewing “time-in” as a way to bring my son closer in the midst of his big emotions, I used it as a way to control him and the situation.


My actions lacked mercy.


What is Mercy?

In Lord, Only You Can Change Me, Kay Arthur presents a definition of mercy from An Expository Dictionary.  Here, mercy is defined as:

“An outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and the resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.”


Our children’s behaviors come from a place of sin and brokenness.  Our appropriate response as mothers should not be anger, but pity.


Give What You Have Received

I talk much of looking to Jesus for His glory and our joy, but, as mothers, we see this vertical relationship transform the horizontal relationships of those around us.  When we are made new by Jesus, receiving the ultimate gift of mercy, we are also equipped (and continually being equipped) to show mercy to our children.


In Matthew 18:21-35, Peter asks Jesus how often we should forgive others.  Jesus responds with a parable about a man who owed a king an inordinate amount of money.  After the king requested for payment to be made, the man found himself and his family being sold into slavery due to his inability to pay.  In desperation, he asked the king for patience. Matthew 18:27 says that the king had pity on the man. The king did not just extend the deadline for payment, but forgave the debt all together!


After being released, the man found someone who owed him a significantly smaller amount of money and physically assaulted this debtor while requesting payment.  Also unable to pay, the man sent his debtor to prison. News spread of what happened, finally reaching the ears of the king. The king told the man, “And should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33 ESV)


As God has forgiven you, so you should compassionately forgive your children.  No matter the offense. Are you struggling with showing mercy to your child?  Remember the ultimate standard of mercy in our King and the ways He has extended it to you.  Recognize the enormous, impossible-to-pay debt for which you were mercifully forgiven and display it to your child.


What a beautiful opportunity we have to demonstrate the Gospel to our children!  My son may only be two, but I pray I use these moments of training and correction wisely and for God’s glory.


May I no longer be the angry attachment parenting mama, but a mother who looks to Christ in all things, acting as His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) in my home and in the world.

I was the angry attachment parenting mother, doing the right things with the wrong attitude. I needed to look to Jesus as the ultimate example of pity and mercy. #mercy #forgiveness #parenting #motherhood #raptmotherhood #devotional #Christianmotherhood

5 thoughts on “How to Show Mercy and Forgiveness to Your Children: Give What You Have Received”

  1. Such an important lesson to learn! One I wrestle with daily… and my boys are 12 and 9. The Spirit’s work in me is evident, but my flesh still wins on occasion. Thanks for this encouraging reminder to keep fighting the right fight!

  2. Gotta tell you, friend, this has changed my parenting this week. I’ve been concentrating on how I can show mercy to my kids as Christ has shown me mercy, and that has made a difference in how I respond to their whining or misbehavior. Thank you for this simple yet life-changing perspective!

  3. How great to stop and think about these parables in regards to our children! So often I feel like they apply to “others” or people outside of the home. I’ve been struggling this week to as my “easy” child has just been starting to show some attitude. Thanks for the reminder.

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