Yes…it has happened to me, I have finally begun hearing the universal child’s cry from my frustrated 6 year old as I try to patiently understand her protest “But Dad, you are not listening to me!” As she talks I can feel myself getting glassy eyed at the thought of being ‘one of those parents’. I can see it now in 20 years time being invited to a counseling session by her therapist to unpack why I didn’t give her the leaking blue felt pen to play with on the carpet!
I have made many deals with myself to do everything I can to bring up our kids with the lofty goal of not contributing to any dysfunction they would have to work through when they were older. I have this ridiculous hope that the girls will think of me as the perfect parent. Oh God….I have failed many times with knowledge and probably many more in ignorance!
It makes me ponder aimlessly….. there is no way to avoid the necessity of forgiving one another. I wonder if the answer is not to pursue perfect behavior, but to pursue a sharpened skill of truly saying, “I am sorry.” Without the painful process of forgiveness we don’t get to grow our character – humility, grace, patience, sacrifice and every other good character trait. I can’t change the fact the I will stuff up but I can change how that may affect someone long term – I can hold someone in chains or I can set them free with an honest ‘sorry’.
As much as oxygen is needed to support our life, forgiveness is needed to guide us away from emotional extinction. Instead of looking to forgiveness only as the tool for being a peace maker, we can look at it as an effective tool for growing and challenging our emotional intellect.
Now I find myself teaching my daughters about forgiving me and others, alongside teaching them how to navigate the perilous journey of immense frustration with toys that don’t work, daddy’s insistence on eggs for breakfast instead of chocolate, how to listen and process a ‘no’ etc…etc…I don’t want to discourage their obstinate view on things (I’d rather direct that towards a skill in determination) but if I can teach them how to say sorry, then they’ll understand me when I humbly say….I am sorry too.