child and adult holding hands - to show teaching forgiveness to my children

Teaching Forgiveness to My Children as a Neurodivergent Mother

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I wanted to give you tips on teaching forgiveness to children. Instead, I find myself humbled by my lack of forgiveness toward my own children. I’ve written before that special needs parenting is hard, but I haven’t written yet about my journey of coming to grips with my neurodivergence.

I’ve always attributed the chaos that is my brain to introversion, anxiety, sin, or just an inability to be a good, normal mom.

But, my brain isn’t normal. My RAADS-R score of 140 and years of symptoms and therapists’ suspicions validate that. As a self-diagnosed autistic person or neurodivergent, I have some unique parenting challenges.

In my first article publicly declaring that I am neurodivergent, I state that “Hearing someone chewing loudly causes me to feel extreme anger toward them.” I didn’t explain that this “someone” is typically my children. 

I feel angry when they are too loud, too messy, too touchy, too out of control.

We are called to “pursue obedience and Christlikeness…while taking into consideration our physical needs and challenges,” and that includes demonstrating forgiveness toward our children. Yes, as parents we are called to teach our children to also pursue obedience – they should close their mouths when they eat out of love for their Mama’s brain. But my children are also not responsible for accommodating all of my sensory needs. They are still children.

So, instead of continuing to let my anger fester when I hear yet another overwhelming noise, I am called to gently remind them of my expectations, forgive them, and put on some headphones (my first acknowledgment of neurodivergence purchase).

And here in this seemingly minor annoyance, which is actually important to me, I show my children how to forgive.

My friend wrote a sweet children’s book, The Red Ball, which tells a similar story. A little girl, Renate, has a small toy taken by a friend. Such a small thing, yet, as the story does a beautiful job of describing, it deeply impacts Renate. She displays frustration and anger that spill out into every aspect of her life. After telling her mother what happened, her mother wisely counsels her.

“When you don’t forgive someone, your anger grows and turns into bitterness. It can make you into a mean person. Is that what you want?” (pg. 19)

Image of The Red Ball book - a tool for teaching forgiveness to my children

But, her mother does not just focus on the external emotions. She reminds Renate of Christ’s deep love and forgiveness for her. She encourages Renate to mirror Christ to her friend.

And, this is how I am teaching forgiveness to my children. I mirror Christ to them. I disciple them, asking them to follow me as I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

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