Friday, October 8, 2010

The Power of The Apology

One of the first things I learned when I was teaching was to admit when you had made a mistake. It didn't matter how silly or serious the error was, it was always worth it to suck it up and say a sincere "sorry" for messing up.New teachers are always worried about losing their power or authority in the classroom, but experienced teachers have learned that being honest about your own foibles goes miles towards earning your students' respect. So, I have tried to apply this same theory to parenting. It's not always easy to admit to a five year old that mommy is wrong, grumpy, shouldn't have yelled at you, wasn't really paying attention, forgot to get the good kind of apples etc. But I have decided that it is worth the small, or maybe large, admission of guilt to foster good feelings between me and my daughter.

I was reminded of this last night when I had to apologize to Kara for being so grumpy all afternoon and evening. The day started off on a bad note when Kara and I had a lengthy "negotiation" about what to wear to school. (Think UN security council, Middle East Peace Process, Bill & Hillary Clinton.) While this was all going on, Jamie was happily exploring Kara's room being completely ignored...right up until the point he walked up show me Kara's brand new glasses (that her grandmothers had just purchased for her) the arm of which he had nearly twisted off. So now, Kara starts crying because her glasses have been mangled. And Jamie is crying because I yelled, "Jesus Christ!" and snatched them out of his hands.

After we all had the day to recover from this morning trauma, glasses temporarily repaired for school, we got to relive it all again when, on our walk home from school, I realize that one side of Kara's glasses, the aforementioned mangled arm piece, is now missing. And, to make matters worse, upon hearing this story when we got home, my mom reveals that the glasses were very, and I mean very, expensive. At that point my mood hit a new low making it a struggle to get through "Phineas & Ferb" without losing my temper. But after a terrible two hours, a disastrous dinner that both kids hated (so predictable), I had a moment of clarity when Kara told me to come see the play room she had just cleaned up all by herself. Her eagerness to please me when I had so clearly been a jerk just about broke my heart. All I could say was, "I am sorry I was so grumpy tonight. I am just upset about what happened with your glasses."

"I'm upset too," she replied.

"But I am not mad at you. Not at all. It's not your fault; it's no one's fault."

"It feels like you're mad at me." Don't you hate it when your kids nail you?
"I am so sorry I made you feel that way, bunny. I was wrong."

And, you know, the evening got much better from that point on.

Here she is with her new, formerly intact, glasses.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Rachel, those glasses do look really expensive. :) We've all had those parenting moments, some of us (yours truly), daily. Way to admit failure, it's tough on kids if they think they have to be perfect.