Teaching Kids to Forgive

On Tuesday morning, the two cousins finally met. Tim came near to 4-year old Janica and said, “Hi Janica!” And hugged her happily. It’s my niece Janica’s first time to visit the Philippines with her parents, and Hannah and Tim had been excitedly waiting for their arrival. Tim and Janica instantly hit it off and became friends. Or so we thought. After a few hours of playing, they were already quarrelling. It had something to do with the rules of a board game they were playing. Janica was at once on the offensive. Clutching Hannah’s hand, she said in a slightly angry voice, “He’s a bad boy! Let’s play upstairs but we’ll not include that boy!”

(image source)

My older sister (not Janica’s Mom) and I looked at each other, surprised, as Tim snuggled close to me, shocked and hurt. My sister and I understood that the two kids have different cultural backgrounds and maybe, Janica is used to communicating with kids in school that way. Tim started to cry silently but he was also mad. All three of us (my sister, Hannah, and me) tried to reconcile the two. We were able to convince Janica that Tim was not bad and she needed to say sorry. And she did. Slowly, she approached Tim and hugged him. But Tim remained hostile. Twice, Janica approached him to reconcile, but Tim had made up his mind. He was angry and sulky.

After everyone left for the Duty Free shop, I talked to Tim. I felt there was an urgency that the two young cousins must patch up and become good friends. Janica’s vacation is just very short. I tried again to convince him to accept Janica’s apology. But he answered angrily, “She said I’m a bad boy. She’s not my friend and she can go back to the states!” Huh?

“Tim, you know Lord Jesus, right? That He is Lord and King and He lives in heaven but came down to earth because He loved the people? The people were not doing good. So, dearest Jesus came to save them so that they would not all go to hell. Because He loved them so much. He loves us so much. Jesus was good to them but they crucified Him. They wanted Him to die. They said bad words to Him that hurt Him. But do you know what He did?”

Tim was silently listening.

“He forgave them! He did not get angry at  them. Even if they hurt Him, He still forgave them. And He wants that we must also forgive those who hurt us. Janica hurt you but she was sorry. You must forgive her and become friends again.” Still, he refused.

“If you will not forgive her, the Lord will not forgive you. He will not listen to your prayers and will not give you what you’re asking for. It’s in the Bible. Do you want us to read it?”

“Yes.”

I opened my virtual Bible to Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

He read it, twice.

“What are sins, Mommy?”

“Sins are the bad things people do, like saying words that hurt. Would you like us to pray so that dearest Jesus will teach Tim to forgive?” He nodded. So we prayed and Tim promised that he would hug Janica when he arrived from school and tell her he loved her and that they were friends.

When Tim arrived from school in the afternoon, Janica ran to him and said, “I’m sorry I got mad at you!” They hugged. They played all afternoon until night.

If only we adults had the same humility like a child’s, maybe then there’d be lesser conflicts in the world and more reconciliations, don’t you think so? :)

“…Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 18:3-4)

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