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Ask Rene: How Can I Forgive An Incident Like This?


Ask Rene:
How Can I Forgive An Incident Like This?

Hi Rene,

I really need your advice. I need to forgive two members of my family and try as I might I just can’t.

Here are the details. Recently my husband and I went away for a short break (our first real holiday in years) While we were away we left our 4-year-old son Sebastian in the care of his paternal grandparents.

We received a phone call two days into our trip telling us that our son had fallen from the second story window of their apartment and had a broken arm and a concussion.

Sebastian bounced back fairly fast but I’m afraid it’s taking me a lot longer. I’m still so angry with my husband’s parents and have forbidden them from coming to the house since. What kind of grandparents leave a child unwatched near an open window?

My husband is obviously caught in the middle and it’s causing a huge strain in our relationship. He keeps saying it was an accident and that only infuriates me more.

So what do you think Rene? Am I right to feel this way? Or should I forgive – and try to forget? I want to but I just can’t . . .


Samantha in Colorado



Hi Samantha:

Wow, what a pickle. First and foremost I am glad to hear Sebastian is doing okay after such a traumatic event. Whew. I guess the same cannot be said for you however, and honestly I can’t say that I blame you. But you have a decision to make; you are either going to forgive the grandparents for their shocking oversight or you’re going to let this eat you up inside and have your marriage be among the casualties. You have quite a bit to work through so here’s my suggestion . . .

4. Let Your In-Laws Babysit Again

Picture 4 of 4

Okay, I know you may be howling right now (and some readers too) but I think this is an important step. You need to demonstrate to them that you truly forgive them for the accident (let’s remember it was an ACCIDENT) and that you know they love Sebastian and would never intentionally put him in harm’s way. You can rest assured that no matter how badly you feel, they feel a thousand times worse! The grandparents are probably kicking themselves for not being more vigilant and probably wake up at night in a cold sweat, knowing how close Sebastian came to suffering more serious injury. You can say you forgive all you want but I think it’s an important part of your healing and theirs for you to show you trust them. Not saying it needs to happen right away, but I do think it’s important. The one caveat to this is to make sure they are able-bodied enough to handle an active four-year-old. If they are not, then obviously he should not be staying with them.

You say at the end of your letter that you want to forgive your in-laws but you can’t. I disagree. If you really wanted to, I mean REALLY want to let go of the pain and anger, you absolutely could. It may be a process but it can be done. The decision is up to you.

Good luck, Mommy!

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(Editor's Note: This piece ran in its original format on 11.26.2010)

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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