Sometimes, Parents Just Get It Wrong
By Ericka LaGrone (Eva Carlston Parent Coach)
Sometimes, parents just get it wrong. As a parent myself, I get to say that. It could be a mistake, like when you think your daughter took your sunglasses (because she has in the past) and you tell her to get them and give them to you immediately. You’re then met with anger or tears or silence and then you find said sunglasses in the center console of the car the next day, exactly where you left them. Oops.
In another situation, your daughter comes home twenty minutes late for curfew and you tell her that she’s not going out again for the next month and how dare she make you worry like that and you can’t believe she did this because she knows better. In this case, fear may have informed the size of the consequence and how it was delivered rather than the actual situation. Later, when calm, you might reflect back and realize that you punished your daughter for scaring you rather than had her earn a consequence for being late.
I’ve worked with many parents over the years who at times feel almost crippled by the idea that they’ll make a mistake and aren’t sure what to do when it happens. But, the fact is, you will get it wrong, we all do sometimes. We overreact, we parent from a place of frustration, or fear, or sheer exhaustion.
So, then what? Getting it wrong can actually be an amazing opportunity to model what you do after you make a mistake. While the desire to try and pretend it didn’t happen or just say to yourself, “I’ll do better next time” is strong, the better action is to model being accountable for your own behavior, something that we all struggle with because it’s difficult.
You can go apologize to your teen and tell her that you found your sunglasses and that you’re sorry you accused her of taking them. You can talk with your daughter about the size of the consequence for being late for curfew and that you were scared and had her earn a consequence that was just too big. You can model humility and accountability and show what bravery looks like. It takes courage to accept and own when you’ve done something wrong. We all make mistakes. We all make choices that are questionable or just plain poor from time to time. Instead of beating yourself up or pretending it didn’t happen, use the opportunity to infuse something positive into the situation: teach your daughter how to stand up and own her choices.
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