Apologize to your children for your parenting mistakes… Here’s why.

by Linda Michie, Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services

Should we admit fault to our children?

Tips on apologizing to your child by Wishing Well Families, Virginia BeachIf you’ve ever been wronged and the person hasn’t taken responsibility for their actions, you know exactly how this feels. This is breeding ground for mistrust, disappointment, resentment, and distancing. You wanted them to say “Hey, I made a mistake and I’m sorry.” Even more, if they really care about you, you wanted them to say “How can I make it up to you?” or “I won’t ever do that to you again.”
There are lots of ways we can make mistakes that hurt others or wrong them somehow, but with our children, it’s times ten.
We can disappoint them, lose our tempers, forget something important. We can have low skills in some areas, and can be selfish once in a while. We have our own problems, deadlines, and sometimes just plain old get it wrong.

When we sincerely apologize to our children, we teach them how it’s done, and how it’s done right.

We show them how to do it, and we show them that it’s ok to do it.
On a daily basis I hear parents demanding that their children say they’re sorry to someone. Almost never do I hear parents saying they are sorry to their children.
It looks like this:

  1. Acknowledge your mistake, shortcoming, imperfection. Say it out loud. “Boy did I make a mess of that one.” Don’t cloud it up by saying why you made the mistake or complicate it by explaining what was going on for you at the time.
  2. Express empathy for how your misdeed affected your child. “My poor scheduling caused you to be late for practice, and I know how important practice is to you.”
  3. Talk about making amends. You can ask your child what you can do to make it up to them, or you can make your own peace offering. “I know an ice cream would sure make me feel better right now, how about you?” Or you can simply commit to making a change that will prevent the wrong from reoccurring. “Let’s set the alarm on my phone right now so this won’t happen again next time!”
  4. Then leave it alone. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t bring it up again. Let it be your past.

In this way you are showing your children that you respect and care about them, that you are human and make mistakes, that we all need to forgive and be forgiven sometimes. They will learn to apologize to others instead of blaming others or hiding their mistakes.

Most importantly, in taking responsibility for our actions we create closeness, trust, and acceptance, some of the biggest biggies of parenting.

Try it!
And if you need some hands-on, real-time help call Wishing Well at (757) 739-2118 and sign up for a few sessions of parenting coaching!

Linda Michie

Linda Michie

Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services
Linda Michie holds a Master's degree in Urban Studies, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University.
Linda has worked in the child welfare field since 1999 and is a Licensed Child Placing Agent.
Wishing Well assists in domestic adoptions in the state of Virginia, and provides parenting coaching, and supervised visitation in Virginia Beach, VA.
Linda Michie

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