I read an article recently about reconciliation, (the restoration of friendly relations
or the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.) I hadn't really understood that to reconcile does not necessarily mean apologising, sometimes we just have to agree to differ and find a way to move forward. I guess that for the catholic me, reconciliation walks hand in hand with confession and penance as that is what I learnt as a child when preparing for the sacrament of reconciliation. Now when I think of the whole process, I consider the what I may have done, why I have done it and what effect it may have had. Often the what's and why have perfectly valid reasons and are actually justified or needed but the effects can be far reaching and upsetting for someone else.
This is frequently what happens with children in care. I heard a story recently about a foster child who for their own safety was not allowed a mobile phone. This was fine until a teacher who was asking the children to investigate mobile phones and social media asked her class to bring their phones in to their next lesson. This child knew that he could not have a mobile phone and because it would not have occurred for him to explain this to his foster carer, after all his birth family were never interested in the whys just the outcomes, he wasn't aware that he could have that discussion. He arrived at school no doubt terrified about the lesson because he did not have a phone, he spotted his form tutors mobile on her desk and as he left the class he swiped the phone, went to his next class and produced the phone with great relief, he had achieved what his teacher had asked. After the lesson he went to return the phone to his form tutors desk but he was caught and then accused of stealing. Fortunately, his foster carer realised exactly what had happened and when the school were made aware he wasn't punished for stealing rather he was helped to find ways of being able to talk to the foster carer and teachers in these types of circumstances.
If we look at the what's and whys in this case they are all perfectly valid, he was just borrowing the phone to use for another lesson. His history meant that he didn't know that he had to ask for permission to borrow the phone or that asking his foster carer with an explanation for why he needed the phone would have probably meant that he could have borrowed one for the lesson.
For carers and parents of these children, remaining curious is so important, as the adults we have to try and find the right questions so that we can really find out what is needed. We need to always be aware that the effects may not have been the intent. Obviously, if the child in question had just stolen the phone then his consequences would have been completely different, our role is to teach these children that they are loved and valued regardless we are here to show them appropriate ways to behave and show them the consequences when they don't.