The sound of flesh connecting with flesh is unmistakable and I put down the dishes and walk into the living room the squalls already piercing my eardrums and my heart rate rising. I take a deep breath and walk over to the tiny offenders.
"What did you do, buddy?" I ask. He looks up at me through long lashes still trying to assume a posture of shame while looking into my eyes.
"I hit my sister." he confesses. I kneel down so his eyes can lock into mine and remind him of his father's admonition.
"What did daddy tell you about your sisters? What are you supposed to do?"
"Respect and protect, mommy."
"That's right. Was that respecting and protecting your sister?"
Time-out which for this kid is the worst possible thing on the face of the earth.
"Why were you in time-out?" I ask.
"I hit my sister."
"What do you need to do, boss?"
"That's right, Ro. Who do you say sorry to?"
"Mommy, Hara, and God." he rattles off.
He heads to the living room where his sister is still nursing her "injury". They make up and within five minutes they are playing happily and by the time ten more tick by they are discussion whether or not to play duck duck goose. They've had their relationship restored. Fully and while my daughter's mind is like a steel trap, they don't bring up what just happened. Instead they apologize, forgive, and move on.
But what about when the person doesn't say, "I forgive you"?
What if they won't forgive.
Recently we were out and about and one of my kids got into an argument with another child. It wasn't anything big, but the whole recognition of wrongdoing and asking for forgiveness was done without my intervention. It wasn't until my son came to me and tearfully told me that his friend wouldn't say, "I forgive you," that I even knew there had been an incident.
Not many families I know practice the children verbally saying, "I forgive you" after someone has apologized to them. It isn't better or worse than any other method out there, it is just the way I've taught my children to work through a disagreement. But what happens now? The other child wouldn't say I forgive you, which is what my children have come to know as necessary, and they were somewhat devastated.
Do I ask the child to say "I forgive you" just to appease my child?
Truth is, I have in the past and most often they do. (If this is a child of one of my friends who uses the same terminology I do and raises their children in a similar manner then I definitely do, but in this situation it was a child who is completely unchurched.) That being said, on this occasion a different thought crossed my mind. People aren't always willing to forgive.
There are times and situations in which you ask for forgiveness and the person will not grant it. This was a perfect opportunity to teach my kids about allowing someone else to have their say--and still maintaining ours. You see, no one can take away your ability to ask for forgiveness. By withholding forgiveness, they are not hurting you, they are only hurting themselves. Now I know this child wasn't withholding forgiveness. I just wanted to use the situation to teach my children that people won't always grant forgiveness and that instead of letting it devastate us, we need to pray for them and move on with life.
Have you ever experienced your children
not being forgiven by a friend or
being unwilling to forgive?
How did you handle it?