My eldest son once screamed so loudly and for so long during a tantrum that I told him I was going to call the Police. I then got my phone and pretended to dial. He absolutely believed I was speaking to them. He was three at the time. Our kids will need therapy.
Three years later he had a nightmare that he had been separated from us and taken to the Police Station for questioning for something he didn’t do. He woke me, crying.
Your kids will need therapy…
We all make mistakes. Our kids will need therapy at some point. Much of that will be our fault.
But there is one thing we can do… and that is to teach them forgiveness. I wrote another post on that topic some years back. This is something our family has been practicing for a while.
When my sons fight, we have taught them to apologise specifically:
“I’m really sorry for breaking your things.” (or for biting you) – anything goes. It just needs a very specific apology by the perpetrator.
An acceptance of the apology follows:
“I forgive you. But please never do it again”
This has become a habit in our home. A habit of grace. Of forgiveness and of trying again. Of promising never to do it again. Because every-one makes mistakes.
After my son’s nightmare I just cradled him up, long legs and all, in my lap and rocked him back and forth as he told me everything… then I said, “My darling, I know exactly where this is coming from.” I asked him if he remembered what happened (he did) and then apologised very specifically for betraying his trust and asked him if he could forgive me. He did. It really was so healing for us both. In the morning, he said to me “no more nightmares Mom.”
I really believe that night saved him from buying into an agreement he was making about himself and possibly saved him hours of counselling down the line. But I know there will be other reasons for him to go. Regardless of how hard I try to parent him well and to protect him.
What a blessing to be Mom to our kids. What a blessing to be broken and to teach them how to forgive…
To teach them that it’s ok to make mistakes, to apologise and to forgive.