Without a heartfelt repentance, it is just an apology. Repentance is about a change of heart.
Are we doing a disservice to our children when they are required to apologize?
I am by no means saying that parents that do are somehow worse than what we chose to do. I am not saying that they have to change. We all are different in our parenting and there is nothing wrong with many of the differences. I am hoping that I can spur some thinking about how our day to day can include ways of living out the fruit of the Spirit and coming to live and learn about true repentance, forgiveness, mercy and grace.
Many years ago, I was one of those mother’s who did tell my kids to say they were sorry. The thought process behind it was hopeful intent that they “meant it” and should be required to. When they were very little; it did not last long being that way, I had come to realize that it was a disservice to them. While also considering how changes could help them in their future relationships and in their own walk with our Creator.
Please do not get me wrong, that did not mean they could now just make poor choices with their words or actions and not have to face it. What it does mean is that the approach to what would have required an apology before now was handled differently.
Let me tell you, the results were amazing and I thank our Father in Heaven for opening my mind and heart to this change. As well as the talks with my husband about these changes and how it was not helpful to continue in the same old method.
We also did not want them to have the attitude now or later on where they give an apology just for the sake of giving it and say “I said I was sorry” but not really mean it. We all know how it feels when someone gives a disingenuous apology. No one likes that and it can be easy to tell. We wanted them to learn and live true repentance.
So what changed? When we were aware of something that was said or done that needing addressing, we had a conversation with the child in question or both when necessary. We still do this.
We would ask them questions like:
- Do you think that was kind/ nice to do/say?
- Why did you do that?
- Do you think that was the right thing to do?
- Would you like that if it were done to you?
- How would you feel if you saw someone else treat your sibling like that?
- Are you sorry?
- What do you think you should do?
- What about asking forgiveness?
- Next time, what can you do differently?
More times than not during the talking with them, they would come to see on their own the wrong mindset within their actions. They would come to the decision to apologize without being told they had to. They would want to do better the next time something came up.
If there was no repentance or caring about how their words or actions affected the other person, there were times that consequences needed to be had. What they were depended on what their offense was.
One of the biggest factors that we believe also helped was the discussions and explanations of the why behind these things that did not only happen when they did something wrong. We have regularly talks about how others should be treated, how we would like to be treated, how situations can be handled better and scripture that helps in understanding and internalizing into our hearts.
Another major aspect of day to day that we believe helps our children is we model all of these things in front of them and with them. We highly believe that it is a whole lot easier for them to learn, understand and live it out too when they see our efforts to live these principles in our own lives.
There are so many verses, word studies and treasures to help all throughout the Bible. The “sermon on the mount” in Matt 5-7 has so many nuggets to glean from.
These are good day to day ways to be seeking out His Kingdom and His righteousness as in Matt 6:33 and keeping in remembrance Ecc 12:13 where it tells us to fear YHWH and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
There are a number of scriptures that reference loving your neighbor throughout the Bible and loving one another is another one we see a lot of.
There are many things can search out to help grow in these ways. It is exciting how often we see them all in scripture.
May we bring glory to our Father and be called blessed by our family. May we consider our every action, reaction, attitude and word spoken.