Our list of how-to-parent rules seem to get longer and more complicated every day. It’s like an information overload to us all.
Sometimes it feels like the parent police are standing in our homes. Judging us. Watching with beady little eyes as we tiredly plop the kids in front of a show, lose our cool as they once again track mud on the carpet, and send them to their room for a time out instead of communicating.
We see post after post, book after book, written on how to become better parents. Scream less. Hug more. Get down on their level. Learn their lingo. Try this method, then that. Use rewards. Don’t bribe. Send them to daycare. Don’t send them anywhere. Let them play. Start them learning early.
Then one day maybe, just maybe, you’ll get it all right and your kids will grow up to be world crusaders who dedicate everything they do to you and your amazing parenting skills.
Y’all. Chances are your kids are going to grow up and, for a while, dedicate their middle finger to you. No matter what your parenting style. Then maybe when they have kids of their own or reach a tough spot in life, they’ll realize how we really tried our best.
Here’s what we’re all missing in the middle of this. We’re missing the very basic, crucial essence of humanity. We are missing out on teaching it to our children, ourselves, and those around us. We are never, ever going to be perfect parents —
But we can apologize well.
No one talks about this. In fact, we’ve devoted our lives to making sure you shouldn’t have to ever apologize. Just read another how-to-not-freak-out book! Squish all your frustrations down so that you can tell people it’s been a month since you raised your voice!
What about we do our best and then when (not if) we stumble, we turn around and say, “I’m so sorry.”
“Mommy lost her temper, I’m so sorry. Let’s start our day over.”
“I should have listened to you instead of grounding you immediately, I’m so sorry.”
“We did a lot of things wrong as you grew up. I need to apologize.”
Then move on and try again. Yes, it’s hard say sorry to our children. They have a way of looking up at you with resentful eyes and saying, “Yeah, you really were awful.” That makes us want to take it all back and send them into their rooms again.
I know it. I’m terrible at remembering and terrible at accepting the “constructive” criticism that follows from my 4-year-old. It’s a work in neverending progress.
There’s nothing wrong with the parenting advice and books. However, when that’s all you do, it’s not realistic and it’s not healthy. Your child’s boss/coworker/partner/friend isn’t always going to “relationship” them the right way. They’re going to lose it, mess up, make mistakes and your kid is going to have to learn how to both handle it and graciously accept an apology as well. Your kid is going to flip out and need to know how to genuinely say their sorry, they messed up. This process needs to start at home.
We aren’t doing anyone any favors by pretending to be perfect. Why do we cover up our mistakes with a life change or a new technique instead of actually looking at our moments of fail and saying, “Here’s what you do when you mess up. You apologize. And then you work on not doing it that way again.”
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
More from Diana:
- 7 Easy Ideas to Teach Basic Table Manners
- 19 Homeschool Blogs Worth Hiding in the Bathroom to Read
- Why the Legacy of Used Books is Good for Kids
- The Booster Seat
- Science in the Homeschool Classroom