As role models for our kids, we parents have tall orders—we have to set an example and model desirable character traits and behaviors, but we also have to allow for some flaws and humanity. One of the things I know that single parents can model for our kids is forgiveness—such an important life lesson. We might start to wonder, however, how MUCH forgiveness we should model and when our forgiveness lessons have crossed over into co-dependency?
I think about forgiveness in two pieces—there are the little, daily constant infractions that we need to learn how to let go of and model that for our kids, and then there are those big life-altering things that happen that may take a little longer for us to let go of; we also need to model this sort of forgiveness for our kids. I am quite biased but I do think that many single parents have been afforded more of a chance to model this BIG forgiveness and our kids can benefit from watching as we grow and mature.
Forgiveness and learning how to forgive others (and ourselves) is such a huge life lesson, I would like to think that we can give our children a “leg up” if we work on it ourselves and share what we have learned with our children. We can forgive the things that they might do, we can forgive our friends and families, exes, coworkers, etc. and share that with our children, and we can work on letting go and forgiving ourselves—all of these lessons can benefit our children. HOWEVER, there is a difference between forgiving and letting go and having messy boundaries and letting people walk all over us. In this way, we can be TOO loose, allowing people to take advantage of us. Even as we work on modeling forgiveness and letting go, we can also stick up for ourselves and learn about healthy personal boundaries. Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean that we forget, or that we allow them to continue to hurt us. We owe it to our children to model both forgiveness, and healthy, appropriate boundaries in our personal relationships.