Saying “I’m sorry” is important to your child
I remember many evenings making a visit to the kids’ bedrooms and standing looking at their little sleeping faces. No matter what happened that day….how many cups of spilled milk I cleaned up, number of Legos I stepped on, number of times I broke up sibling tiffs or the total number of time outs that were given, their little faces were angelic. There were many times as I stood there and smiled that I prayed I would be the parent that they needed when they needed me, and a better parent tomorrow. There were also nights when I knew that I needed to apologize for a parenting blunder that I had made that day.
The two short words of “I’m sorry” can make such a huge influence on your child’s life. Sometimes it is very difficult to say those words as a parent to our children. We try so hard to instill boundaries, and provide routine and loving discipline for our children, but sometimes we are tired, we are frustrated, or we are at a loss in knowing what the next parenting step should be. In those moments, we may yell for no good reason, punish a little harshly, and speak words that may be hurtful or not say words we wish we would have. We all have moments we regret as parents.
Saying, “I’m sorry” to our children can mend our feelings of regret and our children’s feelings of hurt. These words never undermine our authority but in fact teach valuable lessons to our children and improves our relationship.
- Apologizing teaches your child that we all are imperfect and it is OK! Every one of us has imperfections. Saying “I’m sorry” shows your child that you are not perfect and neither is he…but the love between you will always be there. Parents and children love each other completely, even the imperfections.
- Apologizing teaches your child that giving forgiveness heals as much as asking for forgiveness. Forgiving someone heals the hurt. Children forgive freely and openly and have short memories. One of the great beauties of young children is that they wake every morning loving you, no matter what the day before held.
- Apologizing teaches your child that some actions and some words hurt. Taking responsibility for actions or words that hurt your child is a powerful way to teach your child that we all are responsible for our words and deeds. Saying ‘I’m sorry” is taking that responsibility.
- Apologizing the moment that you realize you made a mistake teaches your child that now is the best time to mend a hurt. The longer you wait, the more harm is done.
- Apologizing teaches your child that he is worthwhile…someone worth caring about. This helps your child build self esteem.
- Apologizing teaches the behavior to your child. A child that has never received an apology has a difficult time learning the value. Parents must apologize with sincerity which teaches a child that heart felt apologies are the only ones with value.
So, I am not the perfect parent, nor will I ever be. I continue to make parenting blunders even with children who are adults or nearly there. (Hard for me to think of any of the 4 as adults! That may be another reason to apologize!) As parents we must realize that mistakes are made, but when we apologize with love and sincerity, even our mistakes can result in life lessons for our child and a better relationship.
So no Mommy or Daddy guilt, just admitting when we are wrong, asking for forgiveness from our children and then looking at their angelic faces as they sleep knowing that there is the promise that tomorrow will be a new day.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.