The secret ingredient for a successful family


I recently asked a mother of eight adult children her secret to a successful family, “forgiveness” she said.  Reflecting back on similar words of wisdom my mother gave me when I was beginning my own family, she said, “teach your children when they are young to say I’m sorry”.  I thought, oh, that is so simple, who can’t say, “I’m sorry”? However, it soon became very apparent, this endeavor would require a continual concerted effort on my part with my 3 small children who were only a few years apart in age and always at each other’s throats.  Begrudgingly they were taught in exact sequence to say, “I’m sorry”. “I love you”. “Will you please forgive me?”.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.  Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry”?  If we never feel remorse, we may never feel the need to apologize.  How can we feel remorse if we are not akin to morality, knowing there is right and wrong?  I feel in our world there is an ever increasing sense of apathy toward morality and owning up to any wrong doing.  Today’s world teaches that good is bad and bad is good.  “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  Isaiah 5: 20 

Teaching my children to say I’m sorry, I love you, will you please forgive me became mortar in my children’s relationships as they not only learned to say them, but to feel them even if they didn’t want to say them.  Looking back on this little secret, I recognize it worked like magic in cementing their relationship through the toughest of times.  They became accountable for their actions, humbled themselves, used the word, “I” instead of you to avoid the pitfalls of blaming the other person, and grew the seeds of empathy rather than apathy for the each other. Interestingly, never once did any of my children ever refuse to forgive each other and today, they are the best of friends.

The power that comes from being an accountable person for our actions has such an incredible impact on every thing and every one in our lives. Today, suicide has become one of the most prevalent phenomenons in our present civilization. Suicide is the third leading in the nation and the first leading cause of death of 10- to 24-year-olds in Utah, how come?  There are so many philosophies behind this phenomenon, and I don’t believe we can attribute it to one single thought; however, in my blog today, I will concentrate on one part known as forgiveness, especially not forgiving ourselves.

Those feelings of helplessness in overcoming our faults are heavy weights upon our shoulders that the Savior carries when we allow Him. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven”. Matt. 18:21-22  In quoting a story from the Children’s Friend, “Sister Price said that Jesus Christ told this one guy that he had to forgive seventy times seven times. She had us multiply it out on the chalkboard, and it came to 490 times!” He looked up at his mother with a lopsided grin. “Does that mean I have to let Tommy beat me up 490 times? There won’t be much left of me by then.”  We can’t change others, but we can chose to forgive them and ourselves as long as we live and we should never cease to our dying day.

We live in a world of instant gratification where everything we desire is at our fingertips. A world that appears so perfect on the outside but is so imperfect on the inside.  All we see is everything from our own view point which is highly tainted by unrealistic “posts” of a pseudo reality on the internet.  We see people’s kids who are cuter than ours, or whose posts receive more likes than ours.  We see friends attaining success so easily, climbing the ladder of accumulation and attainment. While in truth, many of these same people struggle just like you and me to get out of bed each day.  We truly are loosing our ability to see life and people through a realistic scope.  I wonder if our fear of not being perfect stifles us into becoming even more self-centered creatures to the point of despair and no return-or suicide?   My mom always told us to be the first to apologize even if you weren’t in the wrong.  I like that approach and you know what? It always works WONDERS with my family when I use it.  Like my friend with her 8 successful children, I believe forgiveness is the secret ingredient to a deliciously healthy and happy family.  Say it more and feel it’s effects which are liberating, full of light and love.

“It’s sad, so sad, it’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s so sad so sad, why can’t we talk it over?
Oh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word” Elton John

p.s.  I’m so sorry if I offended anyone in any of my blog posts.  I only have good intentions of sharing light, learning and the love that I feel from God for each one of us no matter what our beliefs. 😉


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