Apologizing to Your Children
Every parent reading already knows what this post is about. YEP, that’s right… sometimes our kids are right, and we are wrong. Occasionally a parent may fail to accurately read a situation, or a parent jumps to a presumptive assumption that is in error… and when that happens, we have a few familiar choices.
Stick to our guns and defend our action or reaction as “appropriate” or “justifiable”… or defensively claim a parents right to be “right” at all times, just “because."
Avoid the matter entirely, sweeping it and the awkward angry silence it causes between you and your child under the rug and softly walk the lonely road of denial until it’s forgotten or ignored. Hopefully?
Step up and admit the error and take personal responsibility for our mis-judgement, over-reaction and look our child in the eye and say “Honey, I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
I’m familiar with all three of these, because at different times and seasons of my life… I’ve picked them all! I’m guessing you have, too.
Take my advice… our kids, especially tweens and teen-aged children are well acquainted with our parental shortcomings. They have a carefully catalogued, encyclopedic memory index of most if not all of our major failures as it relates to them. The concept of injustice as it relates to parents vs. kid, is one of THE major factors that fuels their anger, resentment and even rebellion at our ongoing authoritative presence in their almost but not quite adult lives.
So, let’s be careful here. Pride is a painful, destructive and sinful emotion. It is not to be treated lightly in our parent-hearts. When we “INSIST” that we are right, that we have earned the all-wise-adult privilege to maintain our parental control and personal demands on our kids without any explanation for an inconsistent action or undeserved emotional outburst towards our kids… we are creating wounds in our kids' hearts. Wounds that can fester and grow and infect others. Wounds that can create scars for a lifetime… the ones that can force wedges in families, separating fathers and sons, mothers and daughters for decades. Pain that is unrelenting and worse…numbing to our kids.
It’s pride that can steal away the intimate and loving confidences shared between a parent and an almost-adult child. It's pride in our own wisdom, pride in our sacrifices of time, sweat and resources. Or, it's pride in our religion, pride in our inability to ever think we are wrong.
It’s my belief, that actions of parenting pride can and do destroy, weaken… even undermine the very foundations of Christianity. The very heart of our Judeo-Christian faith is beating within a behavioral concept of true humility and servant-minded living.
So, as a dad who has repeatedly jumped before I looked, and spoken before I thought… this is an oft repeated life lesson. I am frequently faced with the three choices I outlined above.Thankfully, I’m learning to quickly pick the third choice… but I still crave my kids' and God’s grace for those delays. I’ve noticed that as a dad, I can become quickly afraid for life issues that effect my teen daughters… and when I do, I get loud and angry and over-react like lava hit my head. Not good.
The Bible says it like this… Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” (Ephesians 6:4 MSG)
“Lord, keep us close to our children’s hearts and may our failures not overshadow your triumphs.. in Jesus name, Amen!”