I have 3 kids – a son who’s 6, a daughter who’s 4, and another son who’s 2. As you can imagine, my home can be chaotic. I have found that when I get home from work each day, not only does my wife need my attention, but all 3 of my kids do too. That means that after a day where I’ve interacted with several people, sat in many different meetings, and responded to dozens of emails – I then need to be prepared to give my family my full attention. This can be much easier said than done…
Despite my attempts to always be in the running for Dad of the Year, I often find myself falling out of the race early. What I’ve discovered is that trying to be the “perfect dad” can be quite an exhaustive goal and one that just leads to disappointment after disappointment.
In ‘all my years’ of parenting I have found one thing that I think I’m getting right, however – saying “I’m sorry” to my kids.
Here are some scenarios where I find myself needing to apologize to my kiddos:
- When I’ve disciplined them out of anger. It goes like this – one of my kids disobey me, I get mad, then I react like someone just said something about my momma. There are no winners when you discipline out of anger. Children need discipline, but it should be done out of love and not out of an emotional reaction to their behavior.
- When I do something that I don’t want them to repeat. Road rage. Talking badly about a waitress who isn’t providing good service. Being impatient to the point that I say things that I regret. My kids look up to me and look to me for what is acceptable behavior. I once heard it said that “what a parent does in moderation, their kids will do in excess.”
- When my wife and I have a disagreement. Now, you know what I mean by “disagreement.” I don’t mean that we are disagreeing about where to go for dinner. I do mean those heated discussions that we get into that usually involve money, parenting, or respect/honor. Our children need to see what healthy marriage looks like and disagreements and arguments are a part of healthy marriages. However, when we act disrespectfully or unkindly to our spouse, that is not part of a healthy marriage.
- When I’ve not followed through on a commitment I’ve made with them. A late night at work that’s caused me to miss putting them to bed, getting caught up in a project at home and not having the play time that I told them we would, or forgetting a promise I made them several weeks before. There are often very good reasons for not following through, however in the eyes of kids, there are no good excuses…only a parent who dropped the ball.
I’m sure there are many more examples of times where I’ve had to ask my kids for their forgiveness. But the point is that it’s ok, and even helpful, to tell your kids that your sorry. It teaches them that everyone makes mistakes and then it helps them understand what to do when they realize that they’ve made a mistake.
How do you feel about telling your kids your sorry? What circumstances have you found yourself in where you’ve had to tell them your sorry?