I was out of town last week and saw the group text from my husband to me and a mom of one of our daughter’s best friends. He’d read a text message between our daughter and her friend, one of the boys in her class. The boy was apologizing for causing her to cry from the punch he’d landed on her and my daughter’s response was, ‘It’s OK.’ Upon learning that this same boy had been kicking our other daughter, my husband reached out to let this mom know what had happened and asked for a discussion among the parents.
When I got home, I brought up the situation with my daughter and her response of ‘It’s OK’ and talked about other ways to respond – that accepted the apology but didn’t let him off the hook. He’s her friend and has been a good friend to her – and at the same time he did something for which there’s no excuse.
This gray area is tough for kids – and it’s tough for many of us too. There are plenty of inexcusable accusations swirling around us every day over the last few months. For those of us who don’t know the accused it’s easy to write the person off as an awful human being and good riddance. But when we are friends with or perhaps related to the person, the conflicting emotions can be tough to grapple with.
In case you haven’t seen Sarah Silverman’s monologue on her thoughts about Louis CK, it’s worth a watch. For the people in our lives who do things we can’t forgive but equally don’t want to expel from our lives, her comments offer food for thought.
For many of us, sometime this week we’ll spend time with family and friends. Families, based on the sheer length of our history connected to one another, can bring with them complications of all sorts. Past wrongs can challenge our ability to maintain healthy relationships. And forgiveness may not be appropriate, realistic or possible. But perhaps in our own lives we can begin to shift from the very black and white world we live in to some gray. Perhaps we can begin to separate the person from the behavior.
When my husband and I got together to talk to the boy’s parents with all of us aligned on a no tolerance policy for hitting or kicking, our kids were far ahead of us. My daughter had already told her friend that he’d better never kick or punch her again. To which he gave an excuse-free apology. And then they all played on the trampoline together for the next 2 hours. It reminded me of the value of letting our kids teach us a thing or two rather than thinking we have all the answers.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.