I apologize to my girls. Quickly and often.
There are two reasons for this. First I fumble through parenting and make daily mistakes, so I give myself frequent opportunity to have to say “I’m sorry”. Second, I’m showing them the ways of the world, otherwise known as modeling, teaching them when you make a mistake you must right it with a sincere apology.
My personal need to make amends doesn’t usually have to do with running late or being too strict on a rule. It typically centers around yelling. That’s right high volume delivery, often in angry tones. My frustration with life comes popping out or I’ve said it four times in a calmer tone, until the shrill yell stops everyone in their tracks. It’s not pleasant. It’s not kind. And most importantly, it’s not how I should behave as an adult.
In comes the “quickly and often”. I try to let as little time between the thought of “I shouldn’t have said it that way” and the actual words coming out of my mouth so my children see that apologies are not meant to be held back, they are meant to be given when we truly regret our choices.
Because it all gets to my key belief about my daughters: They are unique people made in a divine image, therefore they deserve to be treated with respect.
I’ll admit there is that little issue of pride that creeps in. Do I find my authority is undermined by admitting I was wrong? Hardly. I find there is strength in saying “I treated you poorly” or “I could have done better”. It shows I have limitations just like they do and I can, with as much humility as possible, ask for a do-over.
This is all really a modeling of grace. And since I am showing them the ways of the world, it only seems right that I should teach them about forgiveness too. When I apologize to my daughters I put them in a position to accept the olive branch of peace and to extend grace to me. My quick and frequent apologies remind us all that perfection is not our goal as a family – acceptance, forgiveness and grace are.
As a mom to four girls, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She is the author of Loving My Actual Life, An Experiment In Relishing What’s Right In Front of Me and The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.