Responding to Your Grown Child About Pain-Pt. 2
by Cindi McMenamin
If you haven’t read part 1 of this two-part article then stop right now and go read part 1 here! Now you’re ready to find out the last 5 tips to responding to your grown child about childhood pain.
1. Accept responsibility where it is yours.
In every accusation, there is a seed of truth. Be open to it. Be willing to take it to God and ask Him to show you what is true and to give you the courage to own it. Yes, your child might be super-sensitive or reading into something, but after acknowledging their hurt you must also accept responsibility for what is yours. If it’s a perception difference, they were still hurt. Acknowledge that and accept responsibility for giving them the wrong perception if that was the case. Whatever you do, don’t shrug it off by saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” and thereby avoiding responsibility.
It’s humbling to accept responsibility for something we didn’t mean to do or for something we feel was misunderstood or misinterpreted, but humility goes a long way in helping another person heal from an offense. Humble yourself and say “I never meant to hurt you. And I’m so sad that I did.”
2. Apologize for their hurt.
Even if it wasn’t your fault, let your child know you are sorry he or she experienced pain. Even a grown child needs to feel his or her parents’ compassion. Apologize for their hurt by saying “I’m sorry you are hurting. And I’m sorry you have kept this inside for so long.”
If you are the one who has inflicted the pain, say “I’m so sorry for hurting you. I never wanted to do that. And if I could go back and do things differently, I would.” It’s important for your child to see genuine repentance on your part, not an obligatory insincere “Sorry” or a guilt-inducing “I guess I can’t do anything right.”
3. Ask for their forgiveness if the pain involved you.
It is humbling to admit when we are the cause of our children’s pain. Especially if it’s something we did unknowingly and unintentionally. But the best way to receive grace from another person is to ask for it. Don’t simply say you’re sorry. Follow it up with “Would you please forgive me?”
If your child agrees to forgive you, ask if there is anything else you need to clear the air about. Remember, this is not your time to list your own hurts. You might try asking: “Is there anything else I’ve done that you are still hurting about? If so, I’d like to know now so I can apologize and receive your forgiveness for that, as well.”
- Ask if you can pray with them.
If your child’s hurt centered on your actions, asking if you can pray for them (and asking for God’s forgiveness of you for hurting your child) may help soften their heart – and yours. It’s difficult for tension to stay in the air during sincere prayer.
If your child’s pain was caused by someone else, ask if you can pray with your child for God’s healing and restoration, as well as wisdom in how to proceed to the next step of healing, which would include forgiveness by both of you toward your child’s offender.
5. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
You can’t turn back the clock and reverse something that has happened. But you can offer your love and support to your adult child from this day forward. If your child’s hurt involved someone else, resist the urge to become angry, panicked, or to threaten the other party. Instead, ask if you can do something to help your child seek closure or if you can support them while they seek out counseling or whatever they need to heal and move forward.
If your child was hurt by something you are still doing today, ask how you can no longer hurt them and be open to what they have to say. Be willing to get help if they suggest it. We can help our children through the healing process when we are willing to admit we are sinners (Romans 3:23), we are broken, and we need the grace of God to be a person who helps and encourages, rather than hurts, others.
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, mom, Bible teacher and national speaker who helps women and couples deal with the struggles of life through her books, which include, When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books, speaking ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage or parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.