We began teaching a concept to our children a few months ago called "Making Amends." Basically, this is the essence of honest repentance and a healthy foundation for true forgiveness. We have taught the kids that when they hurt someone else, it is their responsibility to take the apology to The Next Level: Making Amends.
Making Amends means that the perpetrator of the crime/offense has to do something for the victim of the crime/offense that is directly in line with the seriousness/nature of said crime/offense. For example, if disrespect of Mom is the offense, the child might open Mom's car door for a week to show respect. You tracking??
Now, in the end, it is up to the victim of the crime/offense to determine if the perpetrator of said crime/offense has made appropriate Amends. In other words, if Suzie pulls Katie's hair and later makes Katie's bed to Make Amends, Katie can decide if she feels the Amends-Making was sufficient to cover the offense. The responsibility of the perpetrator to really develop empathy during this process is huge. No quick fix, no If-Then statements, just true repentance and honest effort to restore relationship.
Of course, for many of you, there is a light-bulb moment that just happened. I know. Me, too, when i first heard about this from our family's counselor. Go ahead, take a moment to digest....
[insert soft elevator music]
Okay, ready for the funny part? (This is my blog; surely you expected a funny part...?)
The first time we told The Littlest Princess that she needed to Make Amends, she said, in all seriousness, "Mom, don't you mean A-Woman's? I'm not a men!"