Sometimes, parenting is as basic as an apology
I had an amazing revelation the other day. I have been a parent now for nearly 18 years, and some things still make my mouth drop open, my heart skip a beat and I walk away a better mom. What I discovered, yet again, is the grace teenagers have. Let me back up and have you take a glimpse inside our home. It’s three days before Thanksgiving, and here we are trying to get ready for four carloads of family to visit. This entails lots of cleaning and grocery shopping, and I get just slightly stressed when all of this needs to happen in a short period of time. Our son was more than willing to clean his room, and let me tell you that that was no small feat. That’s where the problem began. My expectations were a bit different than his were. He was completely finished in about two minutes, and the same job would have taken me two days. As you might have guessed, we sent him back to try again and again and again. By the time I fell into bed, he was promising he would finish up after his show. What I found the next morning put me over the edge and on the brink of insanity. No more needs to be said except for the part where I felt horrible all day. All that misery was put to good use when I picked my wonderful son up after school, and I knew exactly what I needed to do – apologize. Yes, you heard me right; I messed up, and not just mildly. I apologized for what I said and how I said it. This is the part where my son demonstrated the awesome ability to show grace. He apologized to me also. Not just a “required” statement, an honest, heart-felt apology. We talked about it later and I asked him what he was feeling when I was upset. He said he knew he should have kept his promise, but he was frustrated with my reaction. He also said that he was glad I apologized and he, in his own words, “wanted to make me feel better.” Our relationship was back.What can I share that I learned from this, and hope that you also learn? The parent classes we offer at YouthZone, the counseling, parent coaching and resource library all are incredibly valuable, and work wonders when we also realize that sometimes parenting is as basic as an apology. We are human, and in that humanness, we fail, and we need to seek forgiveness. We are hoping to right a wronged relationship; we are role-modeling what positive relationships look like and acknowledging that our kids deserve the best we have. I am not a bad mom, I actually really like the mom I am. When I make a mistake, I don’t need to hang on to guilt or beat myself up. However, I do need to recognize my foolishness, and sometimes allow my kids to be foolish, too.Lori Mueller is program director at YouthZone.Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Colo. CO
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