Do you ever feel like you mess up as a parent? I know I do. Even though I have read plenty of parenting books and, in fact, teach parenting classes, sometimes I still mess up as a parent. Even so, is it nice to know that I don’t have to be a perfect parent to raise great kids; I just need to keep a couple of things in mind:
1. It is better to use parenting techniques poorly and show forth empathy and love, than to use parenting techniques perfectly, and use anger and frustration.
2. I need to make sure that I build a good relationship with my kids when things are going well so that when I am in a bad mood, and am impatient with them, my kids will know my moodiness and impatience is more an exception rather than the norm.
3. I can say to my child, “I have never been the parent on an eleven-year-old and I will probably make a lot of mistakes. That is why I expect you to forgive me when I make those mistakes just like I will forgive you when you make mistakes.” Keep in mind though, forgiveness doesn’t mean enabling bad behavior by not applying consequences.
4. Finally, a very important thing to model for our kids is the ability to say “I’m sorry.” When we make mistakes as parents, it is important to apologize and make amends with our kids. We don’t grovel and beg our kids for forgiveness, but we do admit to making a mistake and ask for forgiveness.
For example, we could say, “Sally, I made a mistake today by yelling at you when you hit your brother and I am sorry. Sometimes I make mistakes. I want you to know that I love you and nothing you can do will ever change that. I would like you to forgive me like I forgive you when you make mistakes. Do you forgive me?” The child can either choose to forgive the parent at this point or not forgive the parent. If the child forgives the parent then the parent and child can hug and move on. If the child chooses not to forgive the parent, the parent can say, “It is your choice whether to forgive me now or not; but that won’t change the fact that I love you.” Then the parent and child can still move on.
Again, no parent is perfect and the neat thing is we don’t have to be in order to raise great kids.
Thanks for reading.
Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. He is the founder of Parent Arizona and Counseling Services and is part of the Arizona Family Institute.
He provides parenting classes using the Love and Logic curriculum, classes for parents of children with ADHD, step-parenting classes, and advanced trainings for foster and adoptive parents. He also provides in-home therapy in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Chandler, and Tempe, Arizona.