I don’t know about you, but I make mistakes. A lot of them. It is a reasonable guess that you to as well. Let’s face it, we ALL make mistakes. As parents, I think those mistakes are so important. Our children learn as much from our mistakes as they do their own. Most importantly, they learn how to own up to mistakes, apologize, and recognize how others feel when they make mistakes.
I recently had to apologize to my teenage daughter. Let me tell ya, if I hadn’t been practicing for years, that one would have been a challenge. It was still a challenge. Teens are just as influenced by our behaviors as they were when they were toddlers. More importantly, this time around they are taking notes on what is and isn’t acceptable adult behavior. So I said “I’m sorry.” I was genuine, honest about how I made my mistake, and how I hoped to make amends. She, in turn, was disappointed, upset, and gracious. Thankfully, by this point she knows that I am not perfect. I’ve given her a lifetime of proof.
We have always tried to make sure our kids know that we aren’t perfect, that we make bad choices, we have bad attitudes, and we handle difficult situations in the wrong ways sometimes. But there is grace, forgiveness, mercy, and opportunities to lessen those mistakes. So we give forgiveness, we share consequences, we give genuine apologies, and we learn together.
What I hope my children have learned from my apologies:
- You are going to make mistakes, and that is perfectly OK – Not one single person on the planet is without fault or sin.
- Own up to your mistakes – the consequences are going to suck, but hiding, lying, and evading the ownership of your mistakes only make them worse.
- A genuine apology is the best place to start, but there is more to “I’m sorry” than just words – making amends even in small ways is important, especially when someone has lost faith in your words. Rebuilding trust takes time, effort, and consistency of action.
- Forgive and move on – holding a grudge only makes you feel worse in the end. Adjust your perspective and learn from the situation, but don’t let it make you bitter.
What I know I’ve learned from my children:
- They love me regardless of how much I succeed or fail at this parenting gig. — they forgive freely and without reservation.