Have you ever given your child a compliment and she took it as a slam? Parenting is hard. One child will internalize the mildest criticism and the other will require lots of reminders about limits and natural consequences. We don’t really don’t know which child we have because our kids present themselves in different ways all the time. No parenting book, expert speaker or well-meaning friend could ever give us all the direction we need. Parenting is not a perfect science.
Sometimes we mess up. Messing up is good. Just like we teach our children the value of failure, failure as a parent can be helpful too. Consider this, if you always did exactly the right thing, and protected your child from every disappointment that a family can bring, what would it be like? They would likely grow up into adults with no stamina for stress and no coping strategies for managing relationships and big ethical dilemmas.
Since none of us can actually provide a perfect environment, I guess we will never know. But we do know that our own growth and our children’s growth are frequently prompted by hurt feelings, mistakes and all out failures. We have heard quite a bit about the value of letting our kids fail, and we try, we really do.
Still, work needs to be done in accepting our own failures as parents. “I should have been more patient and helped him study for that math quiz.” “I shouldn’t have yelled at her.” “Why did I have to use a condescending tone of voice, I sound just like my mother!” Yes, we all fail a little, and it’s okay.
In order for your children to develop the skill of forgiving themselves from failure and moving on, we have to model it. Model accepting responsibility and apologizing when needed. Avoid shifting blame. Just own it and then let it go. Wouldn’t it be nice if your teenager said, “I’m sorry I interrupted you and said the rules are dumb, dad. I will work on my temper and do better next time”? Wow, wouldn’t that be amazing? In order for our children to do amazing things, it takes a bit of modeling from the adults around them. It’s okay to admit failure. By the way, it’s good for your own emotional health and promotes your children developing an essential life skill.
To join in more conversations like this one, come to Coffee with the Counselor. Our middle school counselor is hosting monthly sessions for parents to connect with each other, laugh and share stories. One parent commented, “It’s so nice to know we are not doing this alone. Everyone else is going through it too.” We hope to see you next month for this casual conversation, October 27 at 8:30 a.m. in the middle school. RSVP to Michelle Bostian.