When many of us were young, we thought of our parents as superheroes. They weren’t just people that had started life as kids like us, who had then grown up and had children of their own. They were this altogether different species called Mum and Dad; people whose rules we had to obey and whose parameters we had to follow.
For many of us, this extended to never hearing them say sorry for making a bad judgement call, or if they reacted too strongly to our (probably really annoying) actions. We were the children and they were the adults – and the latter just didn’t apologise to the former.
Why is it so important to admit to our children when we are wrong?
Of course, parents today still want to instil boundaries to help their children to stay safe, eat well, behave kindly and explore their imaginations. But, in the 21st century parenting world, it is becoming much more likely for us to hold our hands up and accept we haven’t been the best version of ourselves. But why is it so important to admit to our children when we are wrong?
We all know that having kids is hard. Super hard. Sometimes they test you to your very breaking point, and blowing a fuse can be something we just can’t control. But what we can control is how we respond to our kids afterwards. It takes nothing to give them a little cuddle and apologise for being grumpy (leave out the cuddle part if you have teenagers), or to take the time to explain why we got so cross. It’s a very small thing, but it’s a gesture that could have a really beneficial effect in the future.
Saying sorry to our children can also give them a sense of self-worth. If we’re having a bad day and go crazy when they won’t tidy their toys or get up for school, apologising for our over-reaction will show them that we still love them. With all stick and no carrot, they can feel like they are nothing more than an inconvenience to you. And, as a result, their behaviour is likely to get worse, not better.
Saying sorry to our children can give them a sense of self-worth
Meanwhile, admitting that we’re wrong can help our kids to see from a young age that we are not those mythical superheroes of our own childhoods. And, from that, they will understand that the human race is invariably fallible. We all make mistakes but, as long as we apologise for them and try not to repeat them, we can move on from them. It’s a good life lesson, both in shaping their own behaviour and responding to other people as they’re trying to understand the world.
Saying sorry is also about leading by example. When our children do something we consider to be naughty or disrespectful, we expect them to feel remorse and to say sorry for what they’ve done. So if they see us apologising for something, they’ll be much more likely to follow suit. We all know that little kids in particular love to copy our behaviour, so why not give them something positive to emulate?
Why not give children something positive to emulate?
And, of course, this relates to when you need to apologise to other people, too. Perhaps you’ve arrived late to an appointment with your kids in tow, or parked your car in someone else’s space. If your children don’t hear an apology from you, they will think it’s acceptable to keep someone waiting or be an inconvenience to others. They will subliminally take on this inconsiderate behaviour, and no doubt employ it themselves as they get older.
Sorry may seem to be the hardest word, but let’s all try to use it more often. It will help us boost our relationship with our kids now, and help mould them into respectful, considerate adults in the future.