Written By – Luke Denham
In fact, we’re wrong quite a lot. We set a rule around the house only to kick ourselves minutes later when you break it yourself. Children are always very helpful when this happens and will only be more than ready to tell you that you have broken the aforementioned rule. We make mistakes. We make a lot of mistakes. When we act irrationally and take it out on our children we have to apologise as soon as the mist clears. We should look inside and ask ourselves the real reason we became so irrational and cantankerous. We should then go straight to our children and apologise for our poor behaviour and explain the real reason (if you are able to). I would sometimes blow up and then feel so ashamed that I would have to look inside for the real reason. Generally, these can be lifelong struggles, financial worries or a desperate need to re-live our youth. I would always apologise to my children when I felt I had been unreasonable. It teaches them that mistakes are natural, that we all have issues, that you’re not perfect, that it is a good thing to apologise for your own poor behaviour, that adults can be wrong sometimes as well, and that we are not infallible.
If we act like a child then our children will think that is the template for life. They will mimic our behaviour in every way. They will see us getting unreasonably angry and look at us as if we had gone mad. Then when they lose it they will have that memory of our behaviour as a guide. If you blow up at them for a minor detail they will blow up at minor details. If you swear at them they will at you and we all know how attractive that can be in the middle of a supermarket. “Mummy, I want some f#@$ing ice cream!!!” Not a good look. When we see adults having their moments of pure frustration we shouldn’t be quick to judge. Even though the nose may go up in the air and you look at them with disdain and think, “Deary me, what a wastrel of a parent.” We all do it sooner or later. It is part of our fabric and one our children are often on the receiving end of.
When we apologise to our children the calm returns and you can return safely to ‘guide’ status instead of ‘I’m an idiot’ status. When I first realised that an apology was vital to my relationship with my children I could relax knowing that what I taught my children I was also teaching myself. We are always learning and trying to better ourselves so what could be easier than practising what you’re preaching. We teach our children to look others in the eye and use their names and sometimes it is a timely reminder to do the same ourselves. Similarly, when our children have a tanty we expect them to recognise their poor behaviour and apologise for it. We should do the same. This is not an excuse to act like a raving lunatic and have a get out of jail free card but rather a way of letting our children to realise that to err is human. I found that my children gained a sense of peace and maturity when they realised my apologies were sincere and heartfelt. They would often say heartbreaking things like, “That’s ok, Daddy”. Bring a tear to the eye of a Russian sailor! We build trust and honesty with our children when we expose the real you under the mask. It has been one of the most important parenting tools I have learnt and the most rewarding.