FROM THE WEST WING

“I want you to apologize to your brother for breaking his truck.” Ever said anything like that to one of your children? I must admit, I’ve uttered phrases similar to that, not only to my own children, but to countless students over my thirty years in education. It’s one of those things we, as adults, feel is our responsibility to make children apologize for their wrongdoings. Most times, however, I have been disappointed in the result of such a forced apology. More often than not the glib “Sorry” is so insincere that you know the words are only spoken so the offending party can get you off their back and they can return to their play. So, what’s a parent or teacher to do? I read some good advice from a favorite author/lecturer of mine, Dr. Charles Fay. Allow me to pass it on to you for your consideration. Dr. Fay suggests:

1. Forced apologies are rarely sincere apologies.—While I agree that children should apologize when they cause problems, whether they do so with a sincere heart is something we cannot always control. Probably the best way to up the odds is for us to be good models of this in front of our kids. (emphasis mine)

2. Kids should be expected to do something that demonstrates their remorse.—Wise parents (and teachers) say, “Telling him that you are sorry is a great way to start? What can you do to show him that you are sorry?”

3. Younger children typically need some guidance figuring out what they might do to demonstrate their sorrow.—Wise parents (and teachers) also give some options: “Some kids decide to write a nice card. How would that work? Some kids decide to buy a replacement toy with their own money…”

    I like those suggestions, particularly the first one that says as adults we can “up the odds” by being good models in front of our kids. However, for many of us, saying “I’m sorry” is not any easier for us than it is for our kids. I asked myself, how many times have I hurt someone by an unkind remark or thoughtless action? When I do so, is it easier for me to simply justify what I have done or can I admit when I am in the wrong and sincerely apologize? I must admit that apologies have not always come easy for me. Sometimes it’s just easier to say to myself, “so and so just misunderstood” or “I didn’t mean it like that. Why are they so sensitive?” or even worse, “They hurt me first.” Wow, pretty condemning attitudes and certainly not Christ like.

    Thankfully, over the years, I’ve gotten some better at asking for forgiveness. What I still work on is my attitude when doing so. As I sat thinking on these things, I began to pray “Lord, make my attitude like yours. May my words come from a repentant heart. May my actions also be loving and kind.”

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 at 9:45 am and is filed under General, Teacher, West. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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