Conflict, Childhood, and Marriage
Yesterday my 7-year-old daughter seemed out of sorts. After I intervened in a fight between her and her younger sister, she exploded verbally and said, “You make me feel like I’m not even a member of this family!”
I took a steadying breath and remembered how Tim Kimmel said to handle conflict. “I’m so sorry you feel that way.” Then I taped my mouth shut with imaginary duct tape and resisted the lecture brewing in my head.
Later, when Grandma had joined us, my daughter exploded again and made the same statement. I opened my arms to hold her and asked her why she had so much “upset-ness” inside. She responded, “People have upset-ness inside of them because of Adam and Eve.”
I nodded. “Yes, but that’s why Jesus came and died on the cross, to offer us forgiveness.”
She sighed in defeat and admitted that one of her friends at school had, in her words, broken a promise and went off to center time without her. That left her feeling abandoned and the issues at home with her autistic sister had pushed her over the edge. (Though not quite in those words, of course.)
Grandma (a former elementary teacher) talked to her about what she could do differently next time and tried to help her see the other side of the issue. We also talked about feeling hurt and about forgiveness. She nodded as though she understood then turned to look at me.
“You’re lucky. You don’t have to worry about forgiveness because you’re married,” she said.
I think I’ll wait about 20 years then remind her she said that.