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"Hey, Mom, I Forgive You": Teaching the Forgiveness Poem

By: Linda Christensen
Publication: Rethinking Schools
Date: April 19, 2013

Summary: Linda Christensen, who has taught high school Language Arts for many years, builds a community of writers as her students write poetry about forgiving—or not forgiving. The author starts with her own story.


Excerpt from Article

Teenagers often harbor resentment as well as love for their parents. Theirs is an age of rebellion and separation. During the last 40 years, I've listened as my students stormed in anger at their parents, but I've also witnessed their love and loyalty. As a daughter who has forgiven her mother, and as the mother of two daughters who I hope will forgive me all of my mistakes, I find the topic of forgiveness essential—and a recurring theme in literature and history.

As students grow into adulthood, they need to see their parents as people as well as family members. Sometimes understanding the cultural and social pressures that shaped their parents helps them begin to resolve some of the issues that divide them from the significant adults in their lives. For some students the pain is still too close and too fresh to forgive. Both responses are legitimate.

The forgiveness poem is a yearly staple in my classes. . . .

Copyright © 2013 Rethinking Schools. Reprinted with permission.
Christensen, Linda. 2013. "'Hey, Mom, I Forgive You': Teaching the Forgiveness Poem." Rethinking Schools 27 (3): 48-51.

About the Author
Linda Christensen, director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis and Clark College, taught high school Language Arts and worked as Language Arts Curriculum Specialist for thirty years in Portland, Oregon. Christensen is also a member of the Rethinking Schools editorial board.

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