Teachable Moments: It's Not Fine, But I Forgive You
Being a mom is a funny time. For every lesson I teach my children, they teach or illuminate a point for me. I find this is especially true when it comes to interpersonal relationships and boundaries, big issues in the process of recovery. I was an only child so besides growing up in the dark secret of the hoard, I didn't have the social opportunity with a sibling that my children are blessed with.
Last Thursday, on the way to Mid-Week Service, my oldest two were having a bit of an issue communicating. They are only 13 months apart, and the older one has some anxiety about learning to drive. Michael told the older Bekah that at this rate he'd be driving first. Bekah found this statement to be hurtful, but instead of speaking up she began to shut down.
I'm quite good at reading my daughter. It seems that I regularly say something that turns her from a bubbly teenager to a brooding moody young woman. She gives me the stink eye, purses her lips together, crosses her arms and looks away....she is....
I realized right then that this was an opportunity to teach and model for my children something that was never modeled for me--Effective and Respectful Communication.
"Michael, what you said really hurt Bekah's feelings. If she said that same kind of thing to you, you'd be irate with her! Do you think you should apologize or something?"
"Bekah, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been mean to you like that."
"It's fine," Bekah parroted back at his apology.
Oh, yeah, I'm that Mom. I'm the one who doesn't believe that "It's fine...that you hurt my feelings..." is an appropriate response. When I hear this statement from her mouth, I hear this statement from her heart:
You don't really care what I feel. I'll say it's fine, we'll pretend it's fine, and I am going to be mad at you for days.
Yep. That's me. I'm that Mom.
"Bekah, are you sure that it's fine with you that he puts you down and makes you feel like you're not good enough? Really?"
"No." Mom, drop it, puh-leese!
I'm not that Mom. I don't drop this. I have a captive audience and a great teachable moment.
"Bekah, you have every right to feel hurt by what he said. But it isn't fine that he said, especially since he said it to put you down and make you feel bad. If you are willing to forgive him, consider saying, 'I forgive you,' which is a choice YOU make. You can even say that you appreciate his apology but that you're not ready to forgive him. But don't let anyone walk over you and tell them later that it's fine that they hurt you. It just isn't FINE."
I am SOOOOOO that Mom. I explained to my three older children that having hurt feelings is okay. Expressing to others that they have hurt our feelings is alright. But it is NEVER acceptable to think or act as though we don't merit enough value, worth, or personal respect to be treated fairly and heard.
How do I know this? Because I've been a people-pleaser for a very long time. I still apologize for things I have no control over. In my head I often hear myself say, "I'm sorry," when I've done nothing. I apologize for apologizing.
No, really, I do.
Being the bigger person and allowing a hurt to go through forgiveness is one thing. I do this regularly. But to remain silent about your hurt feelings and to wipe away someone else's transgression against your feelings of safety and acceptance, well...that's just not cool.
It hasn't come up again, but I'm confident it will. That's the joy of having MANY children. You deal with the same issues over and over again. The blessing of having MANY children is that I can learn from them OVER and OVER again.
Because sometimes loving each other is all it takes to recover.