Last week I wrote about how I am trying to teach my kids to handle conflict .  It was something that I never quite learned, and am not trying to learn as a 30-year-old mother of 4.  Yet, conflict is something we all deal with.

Part of conflict is learning how to make a proper apology.  Again, this is something I am just now learning, and boy oh boy, does my pride get in the way here!  To say the words, ‘I was wrong.  I am sorry. Will you forgive me?’ makes me quake in my boots (if I wore boots).  It is a vulnerable position to be in.  I am now at the mercy of that person.  My pride is stripped away, and I am left bare.

No wonder so few people know how to effectively offer an apology.

But, in order to keep short accounts with people, in order to have the deepest and closest relationships, we MUST learn to do this.

We have the silly notion that we should all just ‘forgive and forget’ everything.  Often the one claiming this is the offender who wants to be off the hook for any responsibility for his or her actions.  In my experience, ‘forgive and forget’ means, ‘let’s not address the issue.  Let’s just pretend nothing happened.’

True forgiveness is when the offense if addressed, the offender repents and THEN the offended extends forgiveness.  That doesn’t mean they just forget that it happened, it means they no longer hold onto the incident.  They don’t use it as ammunition in the next conflict.  They don’t treat the offender with an attitude.  It is releasing the offender.

Now, my 5, 4, 2 year olds won’t understand all of that until they are older.  But, they can learn the mechanics of offering and receiving apologies.

It starts with Mama modeling it.  With me kneeling before them after I’ve lost my temper and yelled, saying, ‘I am sorry.  I lost my temper with you and that is not okay.  Will you forgive me?’  I have had to do that more than once.

The great thing about kids is that they are so ready to forgive.  I have never had my child say no to that request.  In fact, they are so quick to say yes, I sometimes don’t even finish my apology.

stayed tuned for part 2.