Being a role model for your kids can be a difficult task.
Parents make mistakes no matter how good they are and how much they love their kids.
Of course you feel guilty when that happens and when you see your kids react with disappointment or anger, the mistake just seems to snowball.
But it’s important for parents to remember that mistakes are not fatal. In fact, they are a perfect learning opportunity for you and your child to grow closer together.
After 29 years of parenting, I’ve learned the hard way these two simple steps of turning mistakes into moments of growth.
Admit your mistake
It’s bad enough that you said something you shouldn’t have or did something you shouldn’t have, so don’t make it worse by denying your mistake. Your kids know better. You know better.
The problem is that admitting your blunders to a child or a teen is hard. As parents, you want to be larger than life to your kids and show your teens that you have it all together.
But when you make a mistake and then refuse to admit it, you are only making the problem worse.
Say the S word
Perhaps you remember the phrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” from the 70s hit Love Story. But that statement is just not true. When you love someone, you should absolutely say “I’m sorry” every time it needs to be said.
Whether it takes you two minutes or two hours to apologize, be sure you look your child in the eye, admit your mistake, and ask forgiveness.
The silver lining
After the admission and the apology are done, your mistake should be a thing of the past. But is it really?
The honest truth is that mistakes are rarely forgotten, even though they may be forgiven. Your kids will not remember you as a perfect parent, and if they did, you would not be giving them a realistic perception of life.
But here’s where the silver lining comes in.
You are not the only one who can learn from your mistakes, your child can too.
He learns humility when you admit mistakes and apologize.
She learns to forgive herself when she makes mistakes because she sees you forgive yourself.
He will be more likely to come to you with his mistakes because he’s seen you admit yours.
She learns how to handle conflict.
Your kids have a chance to see you as real, not a parent who pretends to be perfect. The bittersweet lesson in all of this is that vulnerability breaks down barriers and forges strong bonds.
I was raised in a home with two very strong, faith-filled, compassionate parents. They were good parents, almost too good. I rarely saw them get upset. I only remember my dad apologizing to me once, I never heard them get angry with each other, and they never shared their fears or struggles with us.
Perhaps it was their generation, but I grew up a little unprepared for the conflicts I would face as a wife and mom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever grateful for my upbringing, but there’s a piece of me that wishes my mom and dad had been just a little more vulnerable with us—a little more real. They are gone now and I feel like there are pieces of them that I never really knew.
That “perfect parent” upbringing caused feelings of guilt when I made parenting mistakes until I began to see that the real mistake was not my parental error, but in refusing to learn and grow from it.
One of the best ways to help your athletes learn to get over their mistakes as they play sports is to show them how it’s done in life.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her latest book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.