I am not a perfect mother. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I say things I don’t mean. Sometimes I am unfair. And that’s hard.
We are not expected to be perfect. God doesn’t expect it. And our children don’t expect it either. What to do when we mess up? Turn to your children, take a deep breath, look them square in the eye and tell them you’re sorry for messing up.
I’m sorry for saying those words.
I’m sorry for yelling when I shouldn’t have.
I’m sorry for being unreasonable.
I’m learning just like you.
Let’s start over and try again.
There are so many ways to say I’m sorry. It’s an ill-conceived notion that parents should always be right, that to apologize shows weakness, that parents should be able to act one way, and expect children to act another. And yet, sometimes I think we do hesitate. We hesitate to say those simple words to our kids. I’m sorry.
How can an apology help us feel joy? When we want to be good mothers, and we feel like we fall short, I think we often have the tendency to beat ourselves up a bit. We wallow in our thinking that our kids deserve better, that we aren’t good enough, will never BE good enough. When we fail to apologize, tension remains in the air, feelings remain hurt, attitudes remain unchanged – both ours, and those of our children. But oh, how the healing balm of forgiveness can change all of that. Apologies, especially with small children, are most assuredly followed by kisses and hugs and a general improvement of the atmosphere. Apologies free us from the guilt of not being good enough.
In the New Testament, Christ teaches that we should become as little children. What is so wonderful about children that we should become as they are? Children forgive. Children love unconditionally. They will forgive us when we make mistakes, and they will love us more for be willing to admit it. And a bonus? Apologizing to our children when we make mistakes models the kind of behavior we would like to have reciprocated, yes? Why should our children ever apologize to us if we aren’t willing to do so ourselves? I believe that humble parents and humble children will do much to contribute to a joyful home.