A week ago I stole something. It’s not the first time, but this time it has been very serious and I am very sorry. I don’t know how to get my parents to forgive me and to understand that I am really sorry. I’m only fifteen years old, and I don’t want this to ruin our lives. I know that what I did was wrong, but I want to obtain the forgiveness of my parents and I don’t know how. As a result they took away my phone and will barely speak to me. I need help in knowing how to get my parents to forgive me.

Dear Friend,

It is good that you are anxious to be forgiven. It shows that that you are not comfortable with feeling guilty.

However, the important distinction for you to understand is that being forgiven does not take away the consequences of what you have done. Your parents can fully forgive you and still expect you to accept the consequences or discipline. In fact, parents who have the most success know how to love and forgive, yet still supervise the completion of disciplinary consequences.

When God designed the family, He put the parents in charge so that they could not only protect their children, but also teach them to distinguish between right and wrong. Your parents have obviously taught you that stealing is wrong. In fact, they may have told you that one of the Ten Commandments tells us not to steal. But now they’ve seen the evidence that proves that you have not yet learned the lesson.

Your apology may be very sincere. And you may genuinely wish that you had not stolen what you did. But it is your parents’ responsibility to design and carry out consequences that will keep you from wanting to steal again.

Your situation reminds me of the way it works when we break any of God’s laws. If we are very sorry, God forgives us, but He doesn’t take away the consequences. For example, if you were put into prison for stealing, God would forgive you if you asked, but He wouldn’t get you out of prison just like that.

Your parents may forgive you like God does, but you shouldn’t expect to get your phone back right away. Nor should you expect your parents to trust you for a long time. You must show by your attitude and actions that you have learned the lesson that they are trying to teach you.

Every time you ask for your phone back, it shows your parents that you don’t really understand the seriousness of your actions. So stop asking for the removal of the consequences and start having a better attitude.

We wish you well,