When our kids are young they think we, as parents, can do no wrong. We are super heroes. Rock stars.
Of course we know personally that we are not perfect and someday soon our kids will know it too. I say the sooner the better.
We all make mistakes and some of those are toward our children. This is a perfect time to teach our children some important lessons.
I recently had such an opportunity with my second oldest, Ava. Ava is 6 years old and has been having a great time writing letters to her pen pal, Haidyn, in Wisconsin. She wrote a letter several weeks ago and I kept forgetting to mail it. Then I ran out of stamps AND kept forgetting about it. There was a point when I told her that I had forgotten so don’t be expecting a letter back yet. She gave me a sigh and a “MOM!” Oops! Yet I still forgot. Fast forward to a few days ago and I realize the letter is missing. It either ended up in her art box or is long gone via the recycling bin.
So now it is decision time. I could tell her the letter got lost in the mail and Haidyn never received it. Or that it got lost at Haidyn’s house and she wants Ava to write a new one. But that would mean lying to my daughter to save face. And we don’t lie in this house.
I told her the truth. And yes, she was hurt. Very hurt. And I apologized. It was no ones fault but my own and I needed to accept that. And she needed to see me accept that.
Here is where we get to teach our kids an amazing lesson. Mommy and Daddy are not perfect. No one is. And that is ok. When we take the time to apologize to our kids, to truly own up to our mistakes, then our kids learn that they can do the same. They can be honest with us about what they have done wrong and can ask for forgiveness. And secondly, it teaches respect. It shows our children that we respect them and that is how we treat people with respect. Respect doesn’t mean never hurting someone. It means owning it and saying your sorry when you do. Our kids will then turn around and have MORE respect for us, even in all of our mistakes.
One last thing, it is very important to not “but” our way out of a genuine apology. We can’t say, “I am so sorry I yelled like that. I shouldn’t have BUT you were throwing your toys and…” Nope. Then we are telling them that our own bad behavior is their fault (or whoever’s) and what does THAT teach them?!
We as parents need to take the time to show our children that we respect them and their feelings. That we are not above making mistakes and apologizing for them. Our kids deserve that much.