Much harder than, “I’m sorry”.
I don’t say it enough.
But when I can manage to squeeze it out of my lips, things usually get better.
“Forgive me, son.”
I said it to my younger son a few days ago after I had come down too hard on him for a minor mistake he had made.
I’m probably unique in this regard, but it’s much easier for me to focus on wrong things others do, than on any possible minor problem I might have.
According to Jesus, my perspective is a bit off. “If you (speaking of earthly fathers) who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matt. 7:11).
Jesus thinks I’m evil. That’s a nice thing to reflect on for Father’s Day. Fathers are evil.
But if I am evil, as Jesus seems to believe, then I’ll probably sin against my sons occasionally. Perhaps even more often than that.
If I’m sinning against my sons, then I probably should get reconciled with them, as Jesus also recommends (Matt. 5:25; 18:22).
Jesus said that even evil fathers manage to give good gifts (bread, fish) to children.
The best good gift that I can pass on to my sons is the ability to say not just “I’m sorry” which is good, but “Forgive me, son” which implies that I’ve done something wrong.
Being evil, sin happens.
When was the last time you said, “Forgive me” to someone? Or perhaps you aren’t evil, like me?
My son Nathan and I like to sing “Cat’s in the Cradle” (Harry Chapin) to each other. (“When you coming home son?” / “I don’t know when.”) I probably wouldn’t recommend that as a father-son tradition.