Many families have done a great job of teaching the kids to say, “I’m sorry”. If a child/teen calls someone a name they will be reminded to say those two words…I’m sorry. However, true confession isn’t really there until certain steps are followed.
There are three steps to this process confession, repentance, restitution. Many times this is not enough for true forgiveness in the family and can slip into the mundane. I believe it is important to teach children five steps to help them understand the impact of their behavior to others and to show them others have choices.
The five steps to forgiveness
1. Confession. I called you “fat”.
2. Knowledge. I know you don’t like this because it hurts your feelings.
3. Repentance. I am sorry.
4. Response. Will you forgive me?
5. Restitution. How can I make it up to you?
Do you see the difference? It becomes a process of dialogue of problem solving. It also involves choices for both parties. Maybe in step 4 the other person is not ready to forgive. The child who called the name will have to let it rest awhile or maybe have to live knowing they crossed the line for the other person.
In step 5 as you supervise this process, make sure the answer is not, “don’t do it again”. Both children need to really think and work on the process.
One last thought. Asking our children to forgive us for wrongs is very powerful in making connections with our children.