I’m realising that my children have a lot to teach me about reconciliation…I’ve always wanted to teach them to say ‘sorry’ and have asked them to do this, as appropriate. I know it’s important for them to hear me say sorry and apologise to them when I need to. I find myself apologising regularly for being cross and cranky or a ‘stress head’ …..but we can’t force repentance, which is more a state of the heart. I don’t think I can teach them to feel sorry, even if I can ask them to say it (and sometimes they refuse!)
But when they’re left alone, often they reconcile in their own way. They might not say sorry but draw a picture or offer a gift instead. Usually, no words of reconciliation are exchanged, but they just begin to play together again, offering forgiveness. And they forgive much more than we give them credit for. I’m sure if my friend, spouse or sibling shouted something awful in my face, I would not be ready to forgive them quite so quickly!
It’s tricky to work out when to intervene or not….like so much of parenting!
I can be impatient with their fights and arguments. Its not enjoyable listening to the awful way they can speak to and treat each other! And my own emotions at the time (dealing with disappointment, anger and a loss of control!) usually lead me to shout, which makes the whole thing worse! I expect it all to be resolved too quickly because I want to move on and have happy times together. Without intervention, they will eventually forgive each other and play together again. But I find that intervention is usually necessary!
I need to remind myself of the importance of all this working out of relationships. Plenty of adults, including myself, struggle to resolve conflict in a healthy way. We can either bottle it up, allowing resentment to build up, or inappropriately explode at others…some call these hedgehogs and bulls (do you relate more to one?)
I will serve my children well if I help them to resolve conflict…..treating others with love, being free to express their emotions and also learning to forgive and move on.
Relating to this, I’m thinking about how my husband and I model this. I recently read a good article in the Guardian Family section, by Tim Lott (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/05/showing-emotion-front-children) encouraging us to allow our children to see more of our adult disputes. He reasoned that we’re not setting them up so well for life if we hide all our arguments. It’s unrealistic for a couple not to have disputes, the trick is to learn how to deal with these fairly and lovingly. And how else do we learn this except by copying each other? Matt and I are both ‘hedgehogs’ but, over 11 years of marriage, we have learned to voice our hurts and troubles to each other. We still get it wrong of course but when I think back to the early days of our marriage, I realise we have come miles!