How to Explain Reconciliation to Teens

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In the Catholic faith, reconciliation is a sacrament where the petitioner confesses his sins to a priest, and receives a penance and absolution to reconcile with God and other people. In the Christian faith, there is a similar confession and repentance to achieve reconciliation, although an intermediary isn't necessary. Jews have Yom Kippur, which is a day each year to make amends and reconcile. The Qur'an also provides a process for Islamic worshipers to achieve reconciliation. Reconciliation can also be an interpersonal exchange when someone has wronged another and seeks to mend the relationship through an apology and making things right.

  • Explain to your teen that everyone makes mistakes and has hurt someone, perhaps on a daily basis. Sometimes the offense is intentional, and other times it’s an accident, such as backing over a bicycle that was on the ground behind a car. "When someone is hurt by your actions, reconciliation begins by accepting responsibility for what you did.”

  • Provide examples of past events where you hurt someone and needed to reconcile. Include an example of a time where your attempts were rebuffed, even if for just a short time so your teen understands that his reconciliation attempts might not be accepted.

  • Raise the question, “Have you ever been hurt by someone and wanted to hurt them back, or to stay away from them because you were afraid of being hurt again?” This question may bring up difficult emotions for your teen to deal with, but it can help her decide on a course of action to reconcile with someone she has hurt. Listen and be willing to support the teen through any sadness, anger or frustration.

  • Inquire, “Is there something the person who hurt you could have done to make you feel better or to ease the pain? Reconciliation is following through with a plan to apologize and make things right.” After the teen determines how he could have reconciled with the person who hurt him, you can pose the next question. Ask, “So how could you reconcile with someone you injured? Can you begin with an apology and work from there?”

  • Provide your teen with the opportunity to brainstorm ways to approach the person she has wronged and ask for forgiveness. If she has suggestions for making things right, encourage her to try to reconcile. She could say, "I'm sorry I missed out lunch together. Can We go to lunch now, my treat, as a way to have time together and make up for my mistake?" If she can’t think of a way to make things better, suggest, “Why don’t you apologize and ask that person what you can do to make things right?”

  • Suggest that he ask, “Are you willing to forgive me? I promise I will do my best not to ever do this to you again.” Explain, “If your apology is accepted and you are able to make things right so that the person you wronged is willing to trust you again, you have found reconciliation with that person.”

  • Tell your teen, "Gaining forgiveness from sin works the same way. You ask God for forgiveness, promise to do better and to make up for your mistake and God forgives you so you can start fresh."

References

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