Instead they decided to play a game.
So of course they were brought back upstairs for a training moment. As I was talking to them about how serious it was to disobey I also brought up the fact that not only were they being disobedient, but they were also being a very poor example to their younger siblings (who happen to share a room with them.) I went on to say that God entrusted them to the special position of being an older sibling and what a privilege that was. After all, God could have chosen them to be the youngest, but instead He chose them to have younger siblings. Siblings who watch and learn from them.
When we were done talking, I told them that this time I would give them grace (normally I would make tomorrow’s bedtime earlier) and then we proceeded to go through the apology process.
The older one started to say, “I’m sorry…” and I stopped him right there….. I’m sorry would not be acceptable. Here’s why.
Ever since our children were little we have taught them that relationships are nothing to take lightly. And when we offend or hurt someone we need to apologize to them and restore the relationship. But we do not use the words “I am sorry” when we apologize for these things. We use the words, “Will you please forgive me for…..” We reserve the words I am sorry for times when we accidentally do something….like step on their toe, bump into them….things like that. But when we intentionally do something to hurt our relationship with someone, it takes more than an ‘I’m sorry’ to make things right again.
So in this situation last night when one of the boys started to say, “I’m sorry“ ….I stopped him and said, “Did you step on my toe?” This is how I bring them to the seriousness of the moment. They didn’t ‘accidentally’ hurt me…..instead they deliberately and intentionally hurt our relationship.
He then proceeded to say, “Will you please forgive me for playing a game in bed”. Now you may say this was sufficient, he asked for forgiveness, but that still wasn’t the apology I was looking for. Why? Because this was not the moral offence. There are times where they can play a game in bed, and I don’t mind one bit. But playing a game in bed was not the underlying issue here. When I brought this to his attention, he looked into his heart and said, “Will you please forgive me for disobeying you and not going to bed like you asked us to?” Ahhh….there it was. The apology for the heart issue. That’s what asking forgiveness is all about.
We have found that asking someone to forgive you vs. saying I’m sorry takes a lot more humility. And to ask forgiveness for the attitude and actions of the heart takes heart searching.
This principle works between husbands and wives, family or friends. Saying sorry is not easy, but asking for forgiveness takes even more guts and in the end means a lot more.
When I look in the Bible, I never see the word sorry in it. We really believe in using Biblical terminology when we train our children. For instance when we teach our children obedience, we do not say, LISTEN to Daddy or Mommy, instead we say OBEY Daddy and Mommy. When we teach them to be kind we don’t say DON’T HIT, instead we will say be GENTLE. When we teach them to be content we don’t say be SATISFIED, we instead say, be CONTENT. And likewise with forgiveness. We don’t teach them to say I’m sorry when they hurt relationship with another, instead we teach them to say “Will you forgive me for….”
And we see a definite difference in their attitude towards God, us and each other when they apologize this way. There is a much deeper understanding of restoring relationship. And in this they also learn how to ask their heavenly Father for forgiveness.
So here’s the end of our “episode” last night. As they were going back downstairs I heard them say to each other, “Let’s go ask - - - - - - - for forgiveness for being a bad example to them. And as a mother, when I heard those words, it made me joyful inside. Because not only did they get it, they REALLY got it! And that’s what one of our goals should be as parents . Not to make these little robots that say sorry when we tell them to, but rather children that know in their hearts why we ask of them what we do and take the initiative to take these values as part of their own and act on them. This is what parenting is all about! What a great opportunity and privilege we have :)
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139: 23-24