So time and time again I set out to see what is out there on World Wide Web in the arena of family and parenting. I Google and peruse different blogs and posts, and time and time again I find stuff that drives me insane.
And that works for a minute or two, then I usually go talk to my kids about the parenting subject at hand and how they felt about the way I handled their discipline. Did they need therapy? Did they ever doubt my love? Was I a crappy mom? Did they love Daddy more? (actually, I don’t want to know the answer to that one, so I don’t ask…)
Then, as it goes every single time, I end up writing MY opinion about the issue. After 28+ years and 9 kids, I have formed a few opinions of my own.
Today’s topic is apologizing to your kids. Yes, I read a blog post about it… the writer had some really good thoughts. And some I really disagreed with. I’d like to talk about both.
Her intro story is about finding her twin toddlers on the kitchen counter lobbing crayons into her coffee cup. According to her, she lost it…as would I have.
INTO THE COFFEE CUP? That’s high treason at my house. My coffee is all I have some days.
Seriously, though, There are times when a parent should get angry to make sure the kids get the point. I truly believe this, and I don’t apologize for it. But, on the other hand, I have never found one of my kids on the kitchen counter… even Keegan, unless they were getting dishes to set the table. Rules were rules – even early on. Mom enforced the rules and Dad backed up Mom. The kids obeyed the rules set for them, or they met the consequences. It worked.
The blogger continued:
Psychologist Michael Thompson says, “A lot about being a parent is managing feelings of helplessness,” to which I give a church-style hallelujah and amen. Half the time I feel like they’re driving the car and I’m the old lady in the back seat yelling for them to pull over.
I have been a parent of many for many, many years. NEVER have I had to “manage feelings of helplessness” or that “the kids were driving the car…”. I was in charge and my kids knew it. Every day.
Ok. Let’s move on to something I agree with. Then a couple I don’t. 🙂
Say the words
“It’s humbling. But that’s the point. They will learn to take responsibility for their own mistakes if you do.”
This is a good one. I always have tried to make sure that when an apology is needed from me, I give it due diligence. It’s important because I expect the same of anyone, including my children. And I spent countless hours teaching them how to do it right. Shouldn’t they get the same from me? Have I ever given them less of an apology than they deserve? Absolutely. I’m also a work in progress…but hopefully, I’m getting better with the help of my husband…and vice versa.
Link the behavior to the apology
“I’m sorry for threatening to leave you in the car if you take your shoes off one more time. I wouldn’t actually leave you in the car.”
Hmmm… Maybe this was a bad example? Let’s hope so. Because my kids had to ask if they could take their shoes off in the car. Period. That way, when we got to our destination, we had zero issues. It was a simple boundary that was set in advance for every kid. The “one more time” never happened. If there was ever a behavior issue in the car, I was 100% prepared to turn the car around. Then there would be apologies from the offender. If you’re making threats that you have no plan to follow through on, you’ve already lost the battle. At that point, your mistake is twofold: empty threats and no follow-through. Then the kids are definitely driving the car.
Take a time out
“I can’t mean it if I’m still spinning out about the ruined bedspread that is now a Crayola work of art and I’ve yelled hard enough to rattle my own eardrums. So, I send myself into a time-out. I take a minute or five to breathe away from the maelstrom. Then I go back and apologize and so do they and we talk about all the feels and how to color…on paper.”
Nope. There would be no apology from me on this one. Call me a hard-nose, but kids, even little ones, need to understand that their behaviors are wrong and they ruined someone else’s things. They don’t get an apology from me when they ruin something that’s not theirs. Color on a bedspread? No coloring for a week, at least. It’s ok for them to understand that they made a big mistake. In my house, they might get their favorite blanket taken away because that will have an impact. Taking a moment to calm down? Absolutely. Apologizing for being really mad about what they did? Not in my house.
But I’ve never read a parenting book.