A bloggy friend is posting about forgiveness today, and how it's not the same as just saying "I'm sorry". We were talking a bit in the comments (at her post) about how there needs to be true repentance, not just a mumbled apology. A mom with toddlers asked how that gets applied to our kids - do we make them apologize when they may not feel repentant?
I'm probably going against the stream here, but I think right feelings follow right behavior. Doing the right thing even when you don't feel like it isn't hypocritical or insincere... it's obedient. But far better when our mind, will and heart are in agreement, yah? Therefore, "help" your kids experience the consequences of their sin.
It reminded me of something that happened when the boys were little...
One of my boys had lost his temper and said some awful things to one of his friends, "Peter". After he'd calmed down, I told him that he needed to either call or write an apology to Peter.
My boy responded that he didn't need to because Peter was a Christian and would forgive him anyway.
Yes, he probably would, I agreed. But he might not want to play with you any more. And I wouldn't blame him.
Well that stopped him in his tracks. I seized the moment.
You know, there's a Christian mom I know that I don't like to hang around with. She's kind of rude and bossy. I need to treat her kindly and respectfully when I see her, but I don't have to choose to spend time with her.
Well that was a new thought! I could practically see the wheels turning in his head. It hadn't occurred to him that he could lose the friendship because of his own actions. What a perfect example of sowing and reaping! I explained to him that if he kept hurting Peter like that, sure Peter might forgive him, but pretty soon he'd choose to stay away from him.
He wrote the note, we put it in the mail, and the friendship was restored.
I'm bringing it up for a couple of reasons, in relation to our kids...
1. Don't wait for your kids to have all the right feelings to direct their actions. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Help them see and understand the right thing to do, and to do it.
2. Put sowing and reaping to work for you - if he's sowing conflict, make sure he's reaping grief. If we protect our kids from the consequences of their actions, they're not going to learn. If your little ankle-biter (or mine) is obnoxious to his peers, let him experience the loss of their friendship. Remind him that his sin separates him first from God, and also from other people.
Aaaaaand, that's my two cents for the day ;D