You know that moment as a parent. The moment when the dust settles after a tense and emotion filled exchange with your child. When they’re not listening, when they’re deliberately disobeying, when they’re not following through with something you asked them to do.
And in that moment, you stepped over the line that you didn’t want to cross as a parent. You spoke too harshly, yelled too loudly, got too close in their face.
And you know that you were wrong, that you messed up.
What do you do in that moment?
One of those moments came for me right after Blair was born. Our kids were coming home to meet their new baby sister for the first time, and they were so excited. My hubs was holding the baby, Bren was sitting next to him, and I was on the other side of the couch. Bren leaned down and began to squeeze the baby, and the mama bear in me came out.
I yelled loudly at him, told him not to hurt the baby, not to get that close, not to squeeze the baby. I don’t remember the exact words, but I know that they were spoken harshly.
Brenden immediately burst into tears. Big sobs, that shook his little body.
“I … was … (sob) trying … to … hug … her.” We could just make out his words in between his sobs.
He was trying to hug her, not hurt her, and I had yelled at him about it. That was one of those moments when I knew I had messed up as a mom. I’d spoken to quickly, to harshly, instead of waiting and listening to understand my son and the situation.
So what do you do in those moments when you know you’ve messed up?
Bren didn’t want to be comforted by me, which I understood. I wouldn’t want to be comforted by someone who just yelled at me for doing something I thought was nice either. So my husband calmed him down and then sat with him and the baby, letting him see her, and understand how little and delicate she was.
And later, after the dust had settled and he was calmed down, I apologized to him. I told him I was so sorry for yelling at him when he thought he was doing something nice by giving the baby a hug, and that I loved him.
And he forgave me, so easily, and told me he loved me too.
It doesn’t take away the harsh words that I spoke. But, I think it is so important for our kids to see us, and hear us, acknowledge our mistakes as parents and ask for forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what we want them to do after they mess up?
One of the most often said phrases to a young child is “Say you’re sorry”. And the best way for children to learn is by modeling behavior. How can we expect them to say they’re sorry if we can’t say it ourselves?
I’ll keep messing up as a parent. I wish it wasn’t true, but it’s just the reality that I’m not perfect, and as hard as I might try, there will be times when I will have messed up, and I’ll need to tell my children that I’m sorry.
I’m just so thankful that they are so quick to forgive me and don’t continue to hold those things against me. Maybe that’s something we as parents should learn by modeling our children’s behavior.
What do you do in those moments when you know you’ve messed up as a parent?
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