Thursday, April 11, 2013

Forgive and Forget

In March my parenting resolution was Forgive and Forget.  While this is good advice for life in general, I felt like it was something I could work on to make me a better parent.  Children are constantly pushing our buttons, making mistakes and challenging us.  They aren't intentionally doing these things, but as a result of their striving for independence and following their inner teacher they often do things that aren't exactly what we desire.

While training to become a Montessori teacher we learn that we must enter the classroom each morning almost as if it is our first day with the children in our class.  We have to let go of all the things that happened the day before and greet the children with love, trust and respect.  If we start the day thinking about something like a broken glass or a spilled pitcher of water, we might not be able to treat the children the same as if we let it go before entering.

Parenting is the same.  We can't be angry about things, even "naughty" things, that our children do and let those feelings guide our actions.  We have to wake each morning with a fresh perspective and give our children the benefit of the doubt.  Forgiveness doesn't mean excusing what someone has done, or accepting their actions, instead it allows us to move past the incident with an open mind and heart.
Forgiveness frees us to move on, and according to Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness, it also makes us happier.  Forgiveness seems like a no brainer, but forgetting?  I am not so sure.

The second half of the old adage, forgive and forget, is the one I see a problem with.  While we do want to forgive our children their mistakes immediately we must not forget where they had the problem.  For instance, a child who colors with marker on the walls should not be given free range to markers, at least not for some time.  As parent or educators we forgive the behavior then we remember that it happened. We use this knowledge, gained from observing the child, to guide him in a direction that is appropriate for his needs at that moment.  The wall colorer may need to do some large motor movement, scrubbing a wall would be good.  Or he may need an opportunity to create something beautiful and colorful to hang on the wall.  Helping the child find a purposeful and appropriate expression of his desires requires us to remember the "misbehavior" while forgiveness allows us to respond with wisdom and love instead of anger.

For the month of April my parenting resolution will be Be a Mediator!