Last year, Dylan and I planned a surprise for Cheryl and the girls. He was away at college and Savannah was on the Homecoming Court. We informed the girls that Dylan just couldn’t make it home because of scheduling and pressing issues at college. They were all quite disappointed but certainly understood.
The afternoon of Homecoming, Dylan came home to surprise them. We were able to capture on video each emotional reaction. It was a moving moment. Each reaction to seeing him was quite emotional. It will go down as one of those “special moments” for our family.
After posting this video on social media, I was asked multiple times, “What did you do in your home to create an atmosphere where your kids love each other like that?” I spent some time trying to answer this question. After making lists and being thankful for the Grace of God that made up for our shortcomings as parents, this is where I landed on the answer to that question:
One of the most important things we did to create peace in our our home was to teach our kids to appropriately apologize.
It is so important for each person in your home to be able to apologize well!
In a world where the words, “I’m sorry” have become cheap and somewhat meaningless, here are the 4 components to a real apology that will lead to peace and reconciliation in your home.
- Say “I’m Sorry”
The first step is to say “I’m sorry.” When we say this, we are showing regret. Regret is when we recognize that we did or said something wrong that affected the relationship with another.
When saying “I’m sorry,” we trained our children to:
- look each other in the eyes
- speak clearly and with sincerity
- control their body language when they said “I’m sorry” – meaning we would:
- make them fold their hands
- place their hands in front of them
- then speak to the other person
Doing this helped them settle themselves, which led them to “be in the moment.”
Always remember, the words “I’m sorry” should never be followed by the word “but.” This is a bad practice and usually tries to excuse our behavior.
- Say “I Am Wrong”
When we say “I am wrong,” we own the offense. We cannot excuse it away.
Our children had to name the offense. If they lied, cheated or stole something, they had to say it out loud and verbally own it. They were not allowed to make an excuse for their actions.
Saying “I am wrong” is so important to having peace in your home!
Do you know anyone who always has to be right? Do not be that person!! When we always have to be right, we have the tendency to crush the spirits of the ones we love, we close relational doors and we narrow the path to reconciliation.
Remember, the goal of a real apology is to restore the relationship not just “right” a “wrong.”
A home where people freely admit they are wrong is probably a relationally healthy home.
- Say “Will You Forgive Me?”
This is such an important part of an apology. When we ask another person to forgive us, we take a position of humility and give up control. Wow – I know those are concepts that we may not hear much about these days. When we ask for forgiveness, we are placing it in the hands of the other person.
Giving up control trains our children to have humility and helps them understand that life is not all about them, their desires and wants. That is a good thing!
It is so important to train your children that they are part of a family and the well being of this group is more important than the individual.
In our home, after one child forgave the other, I would make them “hug it out” or sometimes I would pray with them. This would be a sign that they were forgiven and they could move on!
- Change Your Ways and Make It Right
When we continue to apologize to the ones we love but we don’t change our actions or words, then it nullifies our apology. If I lie to Cheryl, apologize to her, and then lie to her again next week – how does that make her feel?
It is important that we remember a real apology is not to just “right the wrong” but, more importantly, it is to restore the relationship.
That is why this 4th step is so important. It solidifies that we are serious about making things right with those we love.
Doing all 4 steps should become an important practice in your family. When we practice these steps, it closes the offense and buries it! There is freedom when we are able to be freed from guilt and we are forgiven.
When we let conflicts go unresolved…
When we don’t deal with the hurt…
When us being right is the highest value…
We are leaving relational trash in our home.
When we choose to live with this trash everywhere, the path to reconciliation with the ones we love becomes narrow.
Here is the GREAT news! It’s never too late to start saying “I’m sorry” and giving a real apology! Start today – example it, encourage it, make it a part of your family’s culture. You will never regret making things right with the ones you love!