When We Must Say "I'm Sorry" to Our Kids


It’s true, I am right 99% of the time. Leave it to mom to be On. Top. Of. Her. Game. Because mother knows best, right? We knew if our 6-year-old stayed up to watch the second half of the big game, we would all pay for it the next two days. So we said no. We knew that not finishing our homework at night time would make for one hellish morning. So we persevered through the whining. We knew that a second cupcake wasn’t necessary, so we looked into those puppy dog eyes and said, “Sorry, sweetie, but let’s save it for another day.” We also knew that the elusive, ever-missing, favorite sock was jammed under the bed slats because the 2-year-old hid it there and we take note of this stuff because we know if we don’t, it will come back to haunt us . . . but now I’m just bragging. My point is, as moms, we stand strong. We know when to say yes and when to say no. We know when it’s okay to bend the rules, and we do things a certain way because we have learned from trial and error that certain ways just work. And yes, we also know where e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g is. But as a mom, we are also vulnerable to making mistakes. From OOPS’s, to mess ups, to f-ups. We all make them and we can all probably agree that after one happens, we feel pretty crappy.

About a month ago my husband was extremely busy at work. And after about the third week of being more-or-less alone during my children’s waking hours, I turned into a momster. (A mom-monster. Write it down. It’s a real thing). I was in that not-so-great-super-tired stage of pregnancy, I wasn’t sleeping well, I was moody, emotional and, quite frankly, burnt out. I had every excuse in the book (in my head) to be out-of-body-who-is-this-crazy-person-what-happened-to-my-patience-INSANE. At times I could justify it. But mostly my behavior – my short temper, my yelling, my inability to tolerate anything – it just all made me feel like a mom I wasn’t proud of being.

And this wasn’t something I could snap out of alone. I needed help and a break from it all, but the one thing I really needed to do was to take a deep breath, hug my kids and do something that we expect them to do all the time – as if it’s sooo easy.

I needed to say, “I’m sorry.”

If there is one thing that I have learned in six and half years of parenting, it’s that while we are older and wiser and (typically) all-knowing, we are not invincible. Apologizing to our kids is one of the most humanizing actions we can take. No, it doesn’t erase the behavior and it can’t be overused, but a sincere “Mommy messed up and I am so, so sorry and I just want you to know that I love you so much” is pretty powerful stuff. No, you are not relinquishing your authority, but instead you are validating your kids’ feelings, you are making a deeper connection by letting them see you recognize your faults, and you are modeling a behavior that we can only hope they will adopt.

And the kicker? As if kids needed any more magical qualities stuffed into those little bodies, kids are the most forgiving human beings in the entire world. And maybe, just maybe, that’s a lesson that WE can learn from them.

Lindsey Schuster is a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. She blogs at The MotherChic


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