Bull, you have reminded of something super important!
We offend each other. And we do it often.
My children offend each other every day. I don’t believe they wake up each morning and premeditate, “I am going to do my best to offend my siblings.” But offense, by golly, just happens. They live together, share bathrooms, bedrooms and parents. One of my “munchkins” (I can’t bring myself to call them jerks) look for that last piece of cake only to find that his brother has already helped himself. A borrowed item was broken or lost. An older brother puts his younger brother (I won’t mention names) into a headlock in which a rolling and tossing of tangled bodies ensues and it’s all fun until someone gets hurt. You get the picture, offense is an everyday occurrence when you live with people.
My husband and I spend much of our parenting training our children how to get along with each other. First of all, we remind them that “being friends with their siblings” is the expectation, not the exception! Do they always get it? Nope. Frustrating? Yes! Tiring? Of course! But as the parent, we use these moments as opportunities to teach and train them in an invaluable life skill: forgiveness.
These “munchkins” were given to me for a reason. We make it our goal is to teach them to be humble, forgiving and loving. Imagine with me for a moment: what would the world look like if we all did so? Could this help their future relationships at work? What about their marriages? Could this one conscious act of parenting make the world a sweeter place? I think so! So let’s get started…
The simplest place to begin is to teach forgiveness to our kids when they are young, but don’t worry, it is never too late. I concentrate on helping my kids recognize and then admitting when they have done something wrong to their siblings. Simple, yes, but it is not always easy to admit our faults, especially to each other, is it? And what happens when they’ve been wronged? We walk them through the steps on how to be a forgiver. Asking forgiveness and then forgiving is a sign of a healthy individual.
We must model it for them, not only by our instruction, but even more importantly by our actions. Here is a typical scene from our family:
Graham (age 6): “Elliot, forgive me for punching you.. I was wrong, will you forgive me?”
Elliot (age 4): “Gammy, I ‘give you.”
We then have them seal it with a prayer and they give each other a hug (or a kiss on the elbow or rubbing noses…you get the picture). Then it is done. It doesn’t take long before they are really good and practiced at asking forgiveness, and also being the forgiver.
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
Looking for more answers????