Siblings Disagree about Forgiveness of Father

National Post (Canada).?? Lina Dhingra, the daughter of a man who stabbed his wife to death while he was in a psychotic state, has forgiven him.?? As she visited him in prison and looked at him through the bullet proof glass, she could see his mental illness.?? ???I said to him, ???I love you, Poppa. I forgive you.??? There was no question,??? she recalled.?? His son is still estranged from the father.??Full story here.

My father left my mother about a year ago. My brother and I are adults now and we both try to support my mom. I am the only one who tries to support my dad. This has led to quite a bit of tension between my brother and me. We disagree about forgiving him. What should I do to reduce this tension with my brother?

This is never easy, when one person forgives and another in the family gets insulted by the act of forgiveness. I think the key issues here are these:

1) Be sure to acknowledge that your father’s leaving is morally wrong. I am presuming that your mother did nothing so egregious as to deserve this. Your brother might think that by your forgiveness, you are condoning your father’s leaving, which you are not because forgiveness does not condone wrongdoing.

2) Gently point out that forgiving is a free will choice by the one who offers the forgiveness. You are free to offer it and your brother is free not to offer it. Your individual choices do not make either one of you bad people.

3) Try to find common ground, such as your shared desire for your mother and father to be reunited. This common goal may help you to work as a team.

4) Finally, your brother’s refusal to forgive today is not necessarily his final word on the matter. Be open to change in him. If he becomes open to forgiveness, he might want and need to ask your forgiveness for how he responded to you when you forgave.

A Little Homework Exercise for You

All right, class, you have a homework assignment today. For a minimum of 10 times today, as you meet others (in the family, at work, or in casual encounters) or pass them by on the street, you are urged to do this:

1) First, see each person without just passing by or glancing casually at him or her.

2) See that there is so much more to this person than a casual encounter will allow you to see. Realize that there is a depth to this person, and this depth is currently not entirely known to you.

3) Next, consider this thought, “The person I am encountering right now, or seeing right now, probably is carrying emotional wounds inside of him or her.”

4) Go farther down that road: “Here is this person with emotional wounds and so he or she is probably carrying a lot of emotional weight right now. Even though burdened in certain ways, this person is bearing up under this weight and functioning well (or at least reasonably well) under this circumstance.”

5) And still farther down that road: “It takes courage to live each day with a wounded heart……and this person is doing just that.”

6) Try then to think this: “There is a certain dignity to each person. Each has emotional wounds and carries these anonymously, quietly, and courageously.”

7) Finally, try to think this: “What can I do to ease this person’s wounds today? Perhaps a little smile, or a comment, or somehow acknowledging this person will help ease his or her pain in some small way.”

Seeing each person as part of the walking-wounded of this world is good preparation for forgiving. You are training your mind in the truth that all carry wounds. When you then apply that principle to those who have hurt you, you are beginning to practice forgiveness. This little homework assignment is intended to strengthen you in preparation for being a forgiver. And even if you have no one to forgive, this little exercise is likely to put an unexpected joy in your heart as an end in and of itself.


As we know, some people are more skilled athletes than others, no matter how hard some try. Do you think something similar occurs with forgiveness? Might some people just be better at forgiving than others, no matter how hard they try?

This is a very challenging question primarily because it asks about natural dispositions in forgiving and no one knows the answer with certainty. My answer, based on reason, is open to feedback and change. I have three points to make.

First, I have never met a person who says, “Forgiveness is easy for me. It just seems to be part of my nature.” So, even if some people are better at forgiving than others, it still is not easy for anyone. In other words, even if one person seems to find it easier to forgive than others, that person still has an uphill struggle to become more perfected in the virtue. In contrast, some people with minimal practice do not find it hard to throw a baseball 90 miles an hour, although even this needs practice to achieve excellence.

Second, some people may find it easier to forgive than others because of what has happened to them “out there” in their family or community, as certain influential people show the person the way to forgiveness. The support from others could explain why some people have an easier (not an “easy,” but an “easier”) time forgiving than others. The person, then, might appear to have a natural disposition to forgive, but it has been made possible by others’ teaching and encouragement.

Third, there probably are certain qualities “in here” (inside the person) that aid a person in forgiving more readily and more deeply than others. Yet, it seems to me that those inner qualities, such as humility and love, are won only after a hard-fought struggle to advance in them. The developments, in other words, require much work and do not necessarily just happen, as can be the case with throwing a baseball at a higher velocity than the average person.

We all need work to advance as forgivers.

Through the Eyes of a Child

Watch here this amazing story of the courage, perseverance, and inspiration of Kyle Maynard. As astounding as Kyle’s triumph is, there is also another story to be told here, one of recognizing who a person really is. One of the many things that struck me about this story was the younger sister’s comment, she didn’t see him as “different” she just saw him as a “normal big brother,” her brother. Her vision was pure and un-skewed by the bitterness of criticism and judgmental views that often come with age. The love of her big brother Kyle, out-shined the “abnormalities” seen by others. She did not see the physical differences that clouded the perspectives of so many who let those differences get in the way of seeing a courageously strong soul, full of life and love. It’s too bad for them…what a loss on their part. In their blindness they missed out on an empowering opportunity to meet, get to know, and learn from someone who has so much to give and so much to teach. Have you ever noticed how easily a child seems to forgive? I think this is in no small way due to the fact they have an innate ability to see through the obstacles that can obstruct our view, into the heart of who a person is, to see the goodness within, and to recognize the “human-ness” of a person. What if we could all see each person, despite their differences and even despite their faults and shortcomings, simply as a human being worthy of love? What if we could see each person through the eyes of a child, with purity and true clarity?


Mother Loses 7-Year-Old Daughter and Unborn Child and Forgives

MSNBC (Pittsburgh, PA).?? At the sentencing of a 24-year-old man, convicted of driving while intoxicated, Nicole Cleland, who lost her 7-year-old daughter and unborn child in the head-on crash, expressed forgiveness for him.?? ” …To heal and be the best mother and wife I could be, I had to forgive you.”????Full story here.??

Two mothers, two daughters murdered, two stories of forgiveness

Cowichan News Leader newspaper (British Columbia, Canada).?? Two mothers, Mary Jim and Bev Stone, each lost a daughter to one killer.?? A man was recently taken into custody in connection with the murders.?? Jim said this, “….being hateful, isn???t going to get me anywhere.????? Stone had this to say, “[My daughter] always had a smile on her face and I???m sure she???d want me to, over time, somewhere down the road, forgive this man for what he???s (allegedly) done to her.???????Full story here.

Pay it Forward Day – Forward Forgiveness

Pay_It_ForwardToday is “Pay it Forward Day” inspired by the book “Pay it Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde and the movie by the same name. Yesterday we reflected on Forwarding Forgiveness and how forgiveness can reach out to entire communities in a rippling effect.

I’d like to challenge everyone reading this to Forward Forgiveness to one other person as a way to pay it forward today. Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful acts of kindness and love we can give. It has the power to change lives.

Who in your life might you need to forgive? Try to start thinking about forgiving this person. What would it be like to offer forgiveness to this person? How might it benefit your life and this person’s life? What is one step you can take today in forgiving this person?

Is there anyone who you might encounter today and need to forgive? Keep forgiveness in the forefront of your mind so that you can be prepared to forgive without letting your anger get the best of you.

Can you think of someone who could benefit from learning about forgiveness? Tell him or her about how forgiving has helped you and others in your life.? Share a book on forgiveness? (Dr. Enright has a few).

Do you have a personal story of forgiveness that could inspire others?Share it in our “Forgiveness Stories” page.

How else could you forward forgiveness today? Share your ideas in our forum.

I hope you can be inspired by this beautiful and powerful song entitled “Forgiveness” by Peter Katz. It was inspired by the courage and forgiveness of Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg who was kidnapped and murdered in Iraq by Al-Zarcawi. (Credits – Composer: Peter Katz, Director: Andrew Moniz, Producer: Daniel Mazzucco, Cinematographer: Roger Singh.

Be inspired and pass that inspiration along by forwarding forgiveness!

Amber Flesch

Sister Honors Brother’s Memory by Forgiving

Globe Gazette newspaper (Mason City, Iowa).?? ???This is what my brother would have done and you can???t hate forever,??? Cindy Wisher said in court after the sentencing of the man who, driving a vehicle while he was intoxicated, killed her brother.?? She said that she is thankful that 20 months went by between the incident and the court sentencing.?? It gave her and her family time to adjust and to come to the forgiveness decision.

Full story here

Forward Forgiveness

I’d like to share with you Katy Hutchison’s story of forgiveness here on the Gill Deacon show. This is a wonderful example of the power of forgiveness and how it can change and continue to change lives in a spiraling web of cause and effects. Ryan Aldridge murdered Katy’s husband and was sentenced to five years in prison. This tragedy could have played out in many very different ways.

Let’s see how life ended up for Ryan, Katy and her kids, and countless others who are and have been a part of their lives. Let’s also take a look at how forgiveness played a key role in this outcome. Read more at the forgiveness project website.

Now, if you missed or grazed over it the first time, here were a couple of provocative points to ponder. Let me highlight some specific quotes from the story.

Katy writes, “Taking tranquillizers and having someone look after your kids would probably be easier, but I feel compelled to do something with Bob’s legacy. I want to tell my story to help change people’s perceptions and where possible I want to do this with Ryan by my side. I’ll never understand how our universes collided but they did, and as Bob can’t make further contribution to society, then perhaps Ryan can. Whether victim or perpetrator, part of being human is rolling up our sleeves and taking an active part in repairing harm.”

Ryan shares, “Katy’s forgiveness is the most incredible thing that anyone has ever given me. It changed my life. There’s trouble every day in prison, offers of drugs and threats of fights, but I don’t give in. My life would still be full of anger and violence if it wasn’t for Katy…Doing time is easy compared to the guilt I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. But with Katy, Emma and Sam’s forgiveness, I hope that perhaps, one day, I’ll be able to forgive myself.”

Think about how this story could have ended even more tragically had Katy not chosen to forgive. In the video you may recall that this was the essential key that allowed her to move on, to recover, to be a mother to her young children who needed her. What would their lives have been like without a father and a mother? How has her forgiveness impacted their lives now and especially in the future? Think about the many lives that they will in turn impact as they grow from childhood to adulthood.

Now let’s turn to Ryan, struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol abuse in an environment where he is surrounded by the chaos of all these risk factors. How has Katy’s forgiveness impacted his life? And what about the lives of those with whom he will come in contact in the future? This has truly made the difference between a life of destruction versus a life of healing, for everyone involved.

Katy continues to forward forgiveness in her presentations to schools and communities across the globe. Tommorrow is Pay it Forward Day. Let’s take Katy’s example and Forward Forgiveness on a day especially dedicated to passing on goodness and kindness.