”The troubling nature of censorship is clearer when it falls on the very young. A certain kind of silence, that which comes from holding back the truth, is abusive itself to the child. The soul has a natural movement toward knowledge, so that not to know can be to despair. In the paucity of explanation for a mood, a look, a gesture, the child takes the blame, and thus carries a guilt for circumstances beyond childish influence.”
~Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones
A few weeks after a child development seminar, I got a phone call from Daniel.
”I think I’ve done something that is not easy to undo. After I heard you talk about the sensitive period in a child’s development for social relations and how we are laying a foundation for relationships right now for our children, well, I realized I may have done something that will cause my children not to value their relationship with me later in life.”
A red flag went up in my head. ”Maybe I need to recommend a psychologist or a lawyer,” I thought. ”Or read Daniel his Miranda rights.”
Daniel continued. ”I haven’t spoken to my grandmother, who practically raised me, in almost five years. She’s never seen our youngest child. My grandmother said something years ago that deeply offended my wife and me. She tried to apologize, but we told her we didn’t want to see her again.
”After your talk about how children learn about social relationships from what we model, I realized I’ve created a template for my own children to treat me like I’ve treated my grandmother. I would never intentionally do anything to hurt my children. Now I see that my grandmother didn’t intend for her remarks to be so painful. It’s strange, but I can’t even remember what it was that was so horrible that I banished my grandmother from our family. I need to fix this. What do I need to do?”
I thought Daniel was courageous to step up to the problem and address it in such a forthright manner. Daniel was wise to see what he might be creating for his own children.
I encouraged Daniel to send his grandmother a note, invite her to lunch or call her on the phone–whatever way he could think of to make contact.
”Daniel, I assure you that all of us have acted in anger, frustration or immaturity and have done things we regret. All we can do is try to make connection again and continue trying until we do. We might find rejection, but more often than not, our offers of reconciliation work.”
Daniel called his grandmother that day, leaving a voice message. She called him the next day, and that weekend she saw her great-granddaughter for the first time. It was a tearful reunion, with both Daniel and his grandmother promising to be more understanding of each other.
For the sake of your family, yourself and your children, be as valiant as Daniel and extend the olive branch to someone today.