Sometimes, my kids are not good at grace. They habitually correct each other and nit-pick at each others mistakes. And it drives me crazy. We don’t model that. In fact, I’ve gently (or firmly when needed) corrected them for years with grace about this very thing, but from the oldest to the youngest, they have improved little, rarely skipping an opportunity to correct the most minor of missteps. Then, the other day I stumbled onto some language that has begun to help.
We started talking about being right, and how there are actually different kinds of “right.” My middle son could hardly believe there could be something more important than getting the facts straight. But as we talked, they all began to recognize a new and more important kind of “right.” Of course, the most important kind of “right” begins with love. What is the most important thing to do when your brother ever-so-slightly and completely insignificantly misquotes a movie, or gets a detail wrong when sharing a story. Is the most important thing showing him his error? Or is there more at stake? What would it look like to love your sibling in that moment? What is the most important way to respond when your sister hits the wrong remote or – heaven forbid – pours you the wrong drink.
For years we’ve been teaching grace. Please. Give grace, even if only because you want it too. But their little minds are so habitually (and developmentally) literal, often they can’t seem to let “rightness” down from its lofty perch. Giving them a new way to think about different kinds of “right” has begun to shift the focus from the criminal to the judge. And when the self-righteous become self-reflective, grace has a fighting chance.