A side note to this story that you should know is our school district dismisses students on Wednesdays one hour early. Every Wednesday. Which we've been experiencing for eight years now.
As I arrived to our designated pick up spot, I noticed Kyle sitting on the sidewalk looking slightly downcast. I smiled as he opened the door as I always do when I pick up the kids and said, "You are out here early today." He stoically replied, "Did you forget it's early out day?"
Ugh. Punched in the gut. I had left my child sitting at one of the busiest intersections of Tucson for over an hour. Yes, I cried. A lot. I asked for his forgiveness which he freely gave. Then I told him I would take him to Dairy Queen to get a large Artic Rush Float, but he had to promise me he would not associate eating with people disappointing him. In his own words he responded, "Mom, I promise to not emotionally eat when people wound me." Punk.
Spring time brings Kyle's baseball season. Games and practice go until 9:00, so Kyle usually isn't settled in and ready for bed until almost 10:00. My kids make their own lunches for school (best idea ever), so Kyle has to make his before he goes to practice because he doesn't have time when he gets home. Last Thursday handed our family a very chaotic afternoon. He did not have time to make his lunch before practice, and before he went to bed he asked if I would make it for him. Because I'm such a stellar mom I agreed to help. When I picked him up from school the next day he told me how hungry he was. Apparently he took his empty lunch box to school that was sitting on the table that morning. My eyes were huge, I gasped, and again profusely apologized. I jokingly stated, "Well, in my defense you are supposed to make it before you go to practice." With the charming wit he often uses to slay me he replied, "Well, in my defense you told me you would make it before I went to bed." Touche.
What's the point of telling on myself? I want to share with you some of the best parenting advice Chad and I ever received.
Apologize when you mess up. Do not be too proud, too afraid, too apathetic, too unaware of yourself to tell your kids you are sorry. Apologize with sincerity, with clarity about your mistakes, and with intentionality to change. Apologize to your kids!
Parents are the authority over their children, but what I often see is that parents take that authority to a level of pride and hard-heartedness. The "because I said so" mantra (another blog post entirely) or "I'm the boss" or "well, I wouldn't have yelled, publicly scolded, overreacted if you hadn't pushed my buttons" ruins relationships.
If my desire is to be able to have adult relationships with my children when they are adults, they have to know that I know that I'm not perfect. This keeps our relationship in balance, teaches them that I'm approachable, and models humility to them.
Apologize when you mess up. And guess what. You will mess up.
For extra help in this area that will not only benefit your parenting skills, but also your human skills please read The Five Languages of Apology by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. This book gives practical and insightful tools to keep relationships whole. If we hurt someone specifically, a simple, non-specific "I'm sorry" isn't going to cut it! For what are you sorry? Will you really take ownership in what you've done? How will you make amends? This book gives good strategies in learning how to truly apologize to someone when you've wronged them.
|Photos by the talented and lovely Laura K. Moore|
God will be honored, your kids will respect you more deeply, your personal humility will grow, and when they are adults it will be implanted on their hearts that you are approachable and love them deeply.