As my son gets older I have noticed that when things happen he usually blames his sister and does not include his part in what happened. After asking him if he also did anything he would answer “yes”. Even though it is great that he will answer and say that both him and his sister were responsible for what happened, the thing I really think is important here is working on him acknowledging his part in what happened upfront without me having to question him about it.
Recently we were looking at the fall of man as part of our bible study. We looked at the fact that when Adam and Eve sinned they talked about what someone else had done but did not acknowledge their part in what happened. Genesis 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Everyone blamed someone else. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. The poor serpent could not talk. And this is how it has always been since that time- we are quick to point out what others have done, but we are not quick to acknowledge our own wrongs. I have begun actively working on teaching my children about acknowledging their wrong.
1) Acknowledging my own wrong.
I have often had to go to my children and husband and say that I am sorry for the wrong (specific) that I have done. By doing this I am hoping that they learn what it means to acknowledge when you have done something wrong.
2) Giving them time to tell what they have done
Sometimes one child will do something that hurts someone else. At first we were insisting that they tell the other person “sorry”. My daughter taught me that you shouldn’t flippantly say sorry, but you should say it when you meant it. Of course this lesson came when she refused to say sorry and when I asked her why should wouldn’t say sorry she told me that it was because she didn’t want to. I must admit that at first I oild try everything to get her to say sorry right away. But, being the person she is, it didn’t work.
After some time though, I came to a great realization about the big difference between being sorry and saying sorry. Now my focus is not on making my children say sorry, but I discuss what they did, how it makes others feel, how it makes God feel and I then ask them to imagine how they would feel if it happened to them.
We are really working on only saying sorry if your mean it. And that sometimes takes time, which I give them. Sometimes they will sit alone and think about it for quite a bit and then we will talk about what it is that they are sorry for. If you can’t say why you are sorry then you are not sorry.
3) Emphasizing the results of the choice
When we have done something wrong we often don’t want to face the consequences of those choices. Children are the same too. Sometimes when we discipline our children they learn that “if I tell mummy what I did wrong I will get punished.” I was noticing that quite bit with my son. I don’t want him doing things and then hiding so he wouldn’t get punished. I realized that the way I was approaching disciplining my children was wrong. I wasn’t focusing on the consequences of their wrong choice but I was punishing them instead of disciplining them.
Now, we are focusing on discussing the consequence of our choices. I am trying to show them that even if I don’t know what they did, there will still be consequences, even if some are not immediately as noticeable as others.
This is a work in progress.
And you know what, parenting always brings great teaching lessons for me because in seeking to teach my children about acknowledging their wrong, I have had to acknowledge mine.