When I came back to work
this past January after
being off for three months
on maternity leave, my
four-year-old son, Alex, was not happy.
In fact, he didn’t talk to me a lot the
week before I came back. And when
he did, it was to lay on the guilt.
“Who’s going to play with me?
Who’s going to snuggle with me and
watch cartoons? Who’s going to eat
lunch with me?” he would ask.
The silent treatment extended into
my first few days back at work, too.
But then Friday rolled around.
I’m lucky enough to be able to work
at home on Fridays so I can spend more
time with my kids—and get lots of
material for this column. That morning,
I was greeted with big hugs and lots
of kisses from Alex.
As we snuggled in bed and watched
cartoons, he said, “I missed you. I’m
glad you’re here.”
All was forgiven.
Forgiveness and Second Chances
The whole situation with Alex reminded
me of the biblical story of the
prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)—and why
I like it so much. It’s probably one of
my favorite Bible stories because it is so real. Sibling rivalry, disappointment,
hurt, trust, anger, forgiveness—those
are all emotions we can relate to and
have experienced at some point and
To paraphrase the Geico insurance
commercials, that’s both bad news and
The bad news is that at some point
in our lives—probably way more than
we would like to admit—we are going
to be hurt by those we love and we are
going to hurt those we care about.
The good news is that our God is a
God of forgiveness and second chances.
The story is also a perfect example of
what it means to be a parent. From the
moment my kids were placed in my
arms, I knew that I would love them
forever, no matter what they did—just
like the father in the Bible story.
But then there is also the problem of
sibling rivalry. In the parable, the older
brother is not amused by his father’s
reaction to his brother’s return. And
he lets his father know he thinks it’s not
fair. With the addition of our third
child, my husband and I are becoming
more and more versed in this matter.
Now that we are outnumbered, there
never seems to be enough time to
devote to each child. And, trust me,
The fact that all of these issues written
about in the Bible are still so relevant
today is comforting. It reminds
me that I am not alone on this journey
of faith—or parenthood.
Living the Lessons Learned
With the Parable of the Prodigal Son
for inspiration, here are some suggestions
for bringing its lessons to your
• Give someone a second chance, or
ask someone to give you a second
chance. No one is perfect. We’re all
going to make mistakes or bad judgments
at some time in our lives. If
you’ve done someone wrong or vice
versa, try to make amends.
• Forgive someone—for the sake of
your health. I recently read about a
2003 study that showed that those who
were willing to forgive others had lower
• If you have brothers or sisters, call
them “just because.”
• Read and reflect on the Parable of
the Prodigal Son. In reading it, recognize
things within the story that you
can work on in your own life. I am
always amazed by how well the father
seems to handle the situation with both
his sons. I often wish I was that rational
and understanding with my own
kids. Each time I hear the story, it’s a
good reminder to try harder.
Next Month: Going to Mass