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Is Forgiveness Possible When It Involves Child Abuse?

Children deserve someone who is irrationally crazy about them!

The word "forgiveness" is laden with meaning and misunderstanding. We were all taught that nice girls and boys forgive and forget. The clear message is that we are expected to forgive anyone who has hurt us because it is the right thing to do.

Many misconstrue forgiveness as somehow condoning the original behavior, as if saying that it is all right. We can never condone child abuse of any kind and this includes the insidious emotional and psychological abuse exerted by narcissistic parents. We cannot expect them to be accountable for their behavior as that is not the way of a narcissist. Their style is to project their feelings, blame others, and not be in touch with their own emotions and behavior. This makes their pardon a bit difficult, eh?

There is an inner letting go for your own well-being that provides emotional benefits to your mental health. Forgiveness in this way is positive and healing as long as you don't deny the pain and hurt caused to you and you are able to set appropriate boundaries to stop it in the future. Adult children of narcissistic parents have been unloved, and many have been abused physically, sexually and emotionally. We cannot excuse bad parenting. We must not ignore the basic needs and rights of children. So, the forgiving is letting go of the past internally but only after you work the grief in your recovery. In Step One of the recovery process for adult children of narcissistic parents, you will be experiencing all the anger, rage, sadness and betrayal and that is very important for you. Afterward, you will have an internal feeling that is more neutral; and you will no longer have the intense emotions once associated with your childhood. It is a gift you give yourself.

"The first and often the only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness...When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us." Lewis Smedes

There are other ways to deal with forgiveness which include drawing on spiritual and religious backgrounds. The twelve-step addiction programs even advocate that true forgiveness is when you can wish the person well who has hurt you. Twelve steppers take it a step further and pray for the hurtful person to have all the things you want for, happiness, etc.

The main concern is that the form of forgiveness that you choose eradicates blame so thoroughly that you have no traces of feeling like a victim. For, if you live in victim mentality, you are at risk of defining your life based on your wounds. We cannot take counsel from the wounded! We cannot allow self to be controlled by another's failures. Being free from the feeling of victimization is the true sign of recovery.

Henry Nouwen writes about forgiveness with clarity and grace. "Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family."

Additional Resources for Recovery:

Resource Website:

Book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Audio Book:

Workshop: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop. Work recovery in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments:



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