We are human. Just like our kids. We are human. Thus we make mistakes. Big and small. Mistakes happen. I am no different. I raise my voice. I even scream sometimes. I get overly frustrated with my kids' struggles and I react poorly. I overdiscipline. I underdiscipline. I inadvertently create situations that cause kids to act in ways I don't prefer. I don't listen to the undertones of their problems. I gloss over things that I should spend more time on. I belabor points that don't need it. I've ignored signs of illness and put too much weight on illness. I project my own insecurities and difficulties onto my kids. I forget that they are struggling and need my calm to recover and move on.
We all make mistakes. It is what we do with the mistakes that matters. When we realize we have made a mistake, we need to immediately communicate that with whomever we wronged. Even when that someone is a child.
Recognizing when we have made a mistake is a big step. Admitting it is bigger. Apologizing and seeking reconciliation is the final, biggest, and most important step. When we go to the person we wronged, admit our mistake, and apologize, we are demonstrating that the other person is important and respected. When we do this with children whom we've wronged we show that they are as important as we are. That they deserve respect. But we also teach them how to do the same.
Modeling is one of our most potent parenting tools. We model relationship and respect when we apologize for our mistakes. Our kids are always watching us and learning so when we demonstrate positive relationships we teach them to follow suit. By the same token, when we model negative behavior, we teach it.
As parents, we often feel like we must put on a front of perfection. But we are humans who make mistakes. I have learned more about life and parenting from my children than from any book ever written (including mine!). They teach me daily how to be a better mother. When I listen to them fully instead of allowing myself to be distracted by scrolling FaceBook, the millions of lists in my mind, that dirt spot on the carpet, and whatever else is going on, I serve them and can adequately address the issue.
We weren't going to let Rory buy her own Russian tortoise because we hadn't LISTENED. I almost took all Will's Lego because I hadn't LISTENED. I took books from Mack because I hadn't LISTENED. I have dismissed Kae because I didn't LISTEN.
Listening isn't about hearing what the other person is saying. If you have had a college communications class, or engaged in therapy in any capacity, you know that hearing and listening are different. Listening involves paying attention to body language and tone and word choice and whatever stage of development your child might be in. We also have to listen with a heart that hears where the child is struggling.
We allowed the tortoise because Rory needed a higher sense of importance and responsibility and companionship than she was feeling due to pandemic restraints. Will was fixated on unavailable, expensive Lego sets because he was struggling with his relationship with Rory. Mack is still trying to find his niche with books, so he seems to hoard them when he is just trying to find his passion. Kae has a propensity to argue, so I inappropriately gloss over her protests because I think they're arguments when they are real concerns.
When I pause and get all the information and listen with my heart instead of only hearing what they have to say, I am much more successful and make fewer mistakes. Don't read that wrong--I still slip up even when I do listen fully. If I LISTEN, I make FEWER mistakes.
Our relationships with our children are paramount. My goal for my kids is that we still have a relationship when they are older. I hope they are happy and secure and can form solid relationships with others because of how we have taught them in their formative years.
Modeling relationships through our admittance of guilt in every situation will secure our kids' futures as people who can take criticism, own their choices and mistakes, and make them right through reconciliation. To that, we must let go of our pride and accept our humanity.
As always, reach out if you need to see this in action.