by Wendy Strgar April 12, 2010
Our relationships are truly the fabric of our lives. Living in a big family with so many people in the process of individuating can make for a compelling laboratory. It is rarely dull, although not frequently full of drama. The one rule that I have imposed relentlessly on my children is that of kindness. I never tolerated or allowed them the liberty of unkindness. Beyond the admonition that we have all heard repeatedly,”if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” I have worked hard on my children’s conscience about their relationships with their siblings. Stony silence is not acceptable either. I have expected, they might even say demanded, that they love each other.
Outside our family life, there are plenty of people who will judge, who will slight or even belittle them, which is all the more reason that the emotional safety that is the gift of a loving family is sacred. The wounds inflicted inside of a family actually have the power to cut twice as deep as the remarks of strangers or acquaintances. The thoughtless remarks and sarcastic comments that often masquerade as humor in our cultural insult fest from television shows to music lyrics to the incredibly low standards of civility that is demonstrated on average city streets, are unacceptable in our household.
Oftentimes it is almost like it pains us to be kind; at least sometimes this is what happens at the dinner table. A thoughtless and cruel comment uttered in the continuous one upping that our family conversation can degenerate into when not well monitored can slice open a wound that no one could see coming. Tonight it happened, that one comment, thoughtless and cruel that cut the fabric between my children in two. We all sat there unable to speak at first. Then one by one, we all piped in, admonishing the cruelty, but it was too late. The damage to the many tender threads that had sown them together afternoon upon afternoon, bedtime upon bedtime, were cut.
Forgiveness, the action verb of love, must come from both of them to sew those ragged places back together again. It is deliberate act; much more deliberate than the cruelty that preceded it. Forgiveness is the darning thread for frayed relationships. It is the harmonizing color that we are willing to become so that the tear becomes harder and harder to see. The magical kind of forgiveness works so deeply that the fabric is new again, you can’t see where the tear happened anymore. You don’t even look for how it was before.
The most positive act we have at our disposal in a world reckless with cruelty in the form of bad jokes is to become the darning thread. If you are someone’s mother, I would say demand it. Make it the only rule that never gets broken. Then there is a chance for a happy family.
by Wendy Strgar September 13, 2018
by Wendy Strgar July 26, 2018