When I recently tried to lovingly show mercy to one of my rule-breaking children, I was quickly bombarded by protests from a justice-seeking sibling shouting, “That is not fair!” Although I do try to keep justice in our home, I also try to balance this justice with loving mercy. A merciful heart offers compassionate treatment of others, especially of those under one’s power.
How miserable would this life be if we always treated others the way they treated us, instead of the way we would like to be treated? Or what if everyone got exactly what they deserved? Children raised with a merciful heart, instead of a sense of entitlement, are more likely to show mercy to others in return.
Help Your Family to Become More Merciful
Mercy is a gift freely given to someone, not necessarily to someone who deserves it. We should teach our children to freely give mercy to others, and try to feel happy (instead of selfish sadness) for those who may receive more mercy than us.
Activities: Hands-on Empathy. It is easier for us to show mercy to those those with whom we can empathize. To help your children feel compassion, give them pretend special needs—like a blindfold, earplugs or crutches. Make it interesting by asking them to do simple tasks that may be made difficult with this change, such as navigating across a room or making a sandwich.
“I will” statements. Encourage a merciful heart in your family by committing to the following statements. Say these “I will” statements aloud with your children, and encourage them to apply them to situations in their everyday life.
- be attentive to the needs of others
- have a heart filled with compassion and empathy
- use my talents to help others
- help both loved ones and strangers alike
- find a balance between justice and mercy.