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3-Year-Old Explains To Mom What Forgiveness Is In 25 Words

Sometimes, beautiful truths come from children.


Forgiveness is not always easy. And while the act of forgiving someone for an offense can bring peace to the offended, many adults still find it difficult to grasp the concept of letting go of anger after being wronged. Many books about how to forgive and let go of anger and resentment in your hearts may have been written, but who knew that it can just be summarized into 25 words by a preschooler?

Mom blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom enjoys posting motherhood-related stuff on her Facebook page. Last week, she shared how she got a touching lesson from her three-year-old regarding forgiveness. And you have to admit, her daughter was right about what she said.

In her viral post, Backstrom shared how she and her little girl Holland had a bedtime battle. After all, it’s quite common for parents to experience having kids drag out bedtimes and it’s natural for them to feel frustrated, especially if this becomes a routine.

But that night, Backstrom was surprised instead because Holland had something more to say. She wrote:

My daughter and I just had a knock-down, drag-out bedtime hour. Finally, about ten minutes ago, I put her to bed and through clinched teeth said “I love you, Holland, but not another word tonight. You are going to sleep now. I’m done fussing over stuffed animals.”


I paused on the way out the door, literally biting my tongue I was so frustrated.

“What is it, Holland?”

“I DO have one more thing to say.”

Katherine wasn’t prepared to get a lecture from Holland, but that was something she never saw coming, for good reason. Everyone can learn a thing or two from Holland, who summarized what forgiveness is about in just 25 innocent words. Read the rest of Backstrom’s story below.

She was standing on the bed with her hands on her hips, too. Her hair was wild and she was using her arm to wipe her tears and snot away from her face.

“Mommy,” my three year old said, staring me down with venom in her tiny voice…


Then she laid down and cried and honest to goodness, for a hot minute, I didn’t know what to do.

The way she said “I forgive you”, made it sound like cuss words.

I walked over to the bedside and leaned over.

“Baby girl, do you know what forgiveness means?”

She was still sniffling, her face shoved deep into her Little Mermaid pillow.

“Yes,” she muttered.

I really had to hear this.

“It means you were wrong, and I’m tired of being mad, and now I’m going to sleep and my heart won’t have a tummy ache.”

So there you have it, folks.

Tonight I was taught a lesson in forgiveness by a three year old. It was a gut punch, too. And you’re dang right I climbed in that bed and loved on her.

Because to be honest, MY heart had a bit of a tummy ache.

I was reminded by my toddler to never go to bed in anger. Because when you do, your heart will have a tummy ache.

And you know what? I’ve been alive for 35 years, and I’ve got to give it to her:

She’s not wrong.

According to psychologists, forgiveness is the decision of the victim to let go of any feelings of anger and resentment toward the person who has done him/her wrong. Alternatively, forgiving someone neither means letting the mistake slide nor is it about reconciling with the offender. Rather, it is an act that will give some peace of mind to the person being wronged just so that person can heal and move forward with life.

It’s pretty much the same with what Holland said to her mommy. It’s just that she said it adorably and innocently using only 25 words. What Holland said should be a reminder of what forgiveness can do to you – reduce your “heart tummy aches.”


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