6 - Start Where You Are (restorative)

Pema Chodron wrote a book with this title and it speaks directly to our ability to be accepting of things as they are. We often wish that our lives were something other than what they are, and we become impatient and irritable in the midst of the real thing playing itself out. We also wish we were the greatest parent possible and the most successful in our career and the most happy in our relationships. But all reside in some place along a vertical spectrum of growth in all of those capacities, and the more willing we are to embrace where we are and get to work from that place, the more content we will be, and the more productive our efforts will be.
 
Restorative Justice
 
Yesterday, my 5-year-old and his friend stole his older brothers Halloween hair color spray, took it to the neighbors and proceeded to paint their trees, their sidewalk, and their landscaping boulder. Now, when I found out about this, I first wished it hadn't happened at all, I wished that my wife was home to deal with it, and even thought about letting it go till she came home. Instead, I decided to start where I was. After working through my initial shock and upset, I explained to my son, who was feeling very ashamed, that he is not a bad person for doing this – that he and his friend had caused harm to our neighbors property, and there are things we can do to make it right. I also said that I would help him make it right.
 
The first and most important step is to apologize to the neighbor, which is as uncomfortable for me as it is for him, but it must be done – of course, we were met with kindness and understanding. Next we will ask for the opportunity to clean it up (luckily the hair color is water soluble), which was a very therapeutic act of redemption that even solicited the help of little sister. Third, we need to address the theft, so we will apologize to big brother, and promise to pay him for the cost of the paint – this is painful too, even though it was only two dollars, he does not like to part with his money. Nevertheless, he really did want to repair the harm he caused so he enthusiastically found his wallet and gave his brother the money. We also involved his friends family in the clean-up and repair process for his benefit as well. This process started with a simple apology, and it became a community effort to teach these kids about respect for property and the power of redemptive acts that they will remember for ever.
 

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