I really did it this time. After a long day of stubborn children, phone calls, and other business I finally managed to lose my temper. My son broke a rule, made a big mess, and I finally blew my top.
If there is one thing that becoming a mother has taught me, it is just how short my temper can be at times. As a rule, I try to avoid yelling at my son, and I always try to avoid using insulting language towards him. Except for physical aggression or something very dangerous, I make a habit of warning him, and giving him opportunity to change his mind about the behavior.
But sometimes after a rough day, when everyone is tired and stressed, that last quirk will set one or both of us off. I have a very strong-willed preschooler, and stand offs are not uncommon. But there are days when I handle it better than others, especially since my son is very sensitive and anxious around loud noises, so shouting can make him panic. And that never helps the situation, it just makes it worse.
It can feel really humiliating when you mess up in front of your child. We are supposed to set an example for our children and teach them how to behave. When I mess up, I need to set one of the most humbling examples of all and apologize to my son.
Why is Apologizing So Hard?
Nobody likes to apologize, to anyone. It doesn’t matter if its your child, spouse, parent, or worst enemy, it’s one of the hardest things to do. The fact is that for many people apologizing is just plain humiliating, and we sometimes try to avoid it at all costs.
One of the most important aspects of getting over the fear of apologizing is to change the perspective of it as humiliating to humbling. After all, the ultimate issue with apologizing is that it hurts our pride. Humility can be considered a weakness, when it is really a strength. True, genuine humility, not self-deprecation, takes genuine courage. Pride is very easy and takes no courage whatsoever.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (English Standard Version) Notice that while it tells the young to obey and respect their elders, it also tells everyone to be humble towards each other.
Becoming a parent is one of the most humbling things that can happen to a person. It lays your flaws out clearly, and challenges so many aspects of your temperament to the limit. Suddenly you have a tiny person who you are entirely responsible for, and you quickly discover how inadequate you are. Parenting is a learning process like no other and humbling yourself in front of your child makes you incredibly vulnerable.
Why is Apologizing So Necessary?
The vulnerability of apologizing to your child, or anyone else for that matter, feels dangerous. What if you are laughed at? Not forgiven? (A genuine risk with a small child.) What if you can’t fix the problem; will apologizing make it worse? Will you let your child walk all over you?
What if it’s what you’re supposed to do?
Is domination really the goal of parenting? Are we going to teach our children how to be good, kind, and humble if we set the example of being prideful and dominating? We are to discipline our children and guide them; in this we are equipping them to grow to be independent and make wise choices. The best way to teach your child is through the example you set. If you want them to be humble, then you must be humble towards them. Apologizing to them when you make a mistake and don’t parent them well is pivotal to teaching them how to be humble and apologize when they need to.
I’ve had to apologize to my son more often than I’d like to admit. I have made mistakes in raising him; I’ve lost my temper or allowed him to do something he shouldn’t. There have been times when I’ve allowed my pride to keep me from apologizing, but I’ve since learned that releasing that pride is surprisingly freeing, and it makes me a better parent.
Here are some things that apologizing doesn’t do:
- It doesn’t dis-empower you: You never have to feel that apologizing causes your child to have an unhealthy power over you. In fact, you are showing them what it means to be a good leader.
- It doesn’t teach your children that their bad choices are okay: Apologizing for your behavior shows your child that doing something wrong requires you to apologize and work to do better. Even if you are apologizing for being too harsh when they do something wrong, if you properly address their behavior it won’t undermine your discipline.
- It doesn’t make you feel worse about yourself. Apologizing and moving forward is a learning moment for not just your child, but for you. You will remember what happened, and it will help you learn to do better in the future. Work on improving your parenting techniques and making better choices in how you handle a situation.
Being genuine with your children is never a terrible thing. It builds security in your relationship and constructs a healthy framework to guide them. Apologizing to your child when you make a mistake that affects them is completely genuine.
Well, what do you think? Is apologizing to your child important? Leave a comment below with your thoughts or advice!