It’s important that we teach our kids how to resolve conflict and at the same time how to grant and receive forgiveness.
When my brother and I were growing up, if we got in a fight, my mom would send us each to our own room for a half an hour.
When the time was up we would come out and start fighting again. We were never taught how to resolve conflict.
It wasn’t until we were actually adults that we learned how to work things out, and today, my brother and I are close friends.
When Carol and I would catch our kids in a fight they would both be sent to the couch. Preferably the loveseat.
They were not allowed to get up from sitting there until they worked things out. One would have to say, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” Then the other would say, “I forgive you.”
Did I just lose you? If you are thinking that would never work with my kids, that’s what we spent a lot of time thinking when we first started the “loveseat” thing.
Yep, I get that. We thought it was an okay idea but we got to the point where we thought, they are never going get this on their own.
We dug in. We did it consistently. We did it every day. Every time they fought we sent them to the loveseat. And of course, we had to be right there working with them and coaching them, especially early on. And it wasn’t just saying the words “Please forgive me” and “I forgive you” but really working through the problems and getting to the root of things. Almost always, selfishness was the root.
We kept digging in. We stuck with it even when the kids were so doggone stubborn that we thought we would lose our minds.
Then one day it happened. Carol and I were talking at the top of the stairs when we heard two of the boys fighting over a game below. I looked at Carol and said, “Tag I’m it, I will take care of this one.”
However, we both froze when we heard one of the boys say, “Hey, you know we are just going to end up in the loveseat. Please forgive me. My bad.” And the other one said, “I forgive you, let’s keep playing!”
Carol and I looked at each other, jaws hanging open. Then Carol cleared her throat and said, “Okay, that’s what I’m talking about!”
Kids almost never feel like working things out.
We worked hard to teach them that love is not based on how we feel, but it is rather based on a commitment to love each other even when we don’t feel like it. A big part of it was teaching them to move beyond how they felt and to do the right thing.
Our kids are grown now. One of my sons told me last week that he is grateful that he is friends with all his siblings and that it makes for great times when we are all together.
There is no guarantee that siblings will be friends when they grow up.
However, teaching them how to resolve conflict and forgive one another points them in the right direction and is priceless for their future relationships.