I remember coming home after a long and tiring day to find a disaster in my kitchen! There were dirty mixing bowls and utensils on every imaginable surface. A film of some unidentified white powder seemed to have turned everything into some muted shade of its original color. Shredded up newspaper had taken over the floor under and around the table and seemed to be glued down. All I wanted to do was cook up a simple quick supper and chill out on the couch afterward. It was going to take a gargantuan effort just to find the kitchen before I could even consider getting started on supper. I flipped out!!! I yelled “GIRLS….GET IN THIS KITCHEN NOW! YOU TWO ARE TOTAL SLOBS! YOU NEVER CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES! CLEAN THIS UP NOW!!!” as the two of them stood there with fear in their eyes. I stormed out of the kitchen and took refuge in my room.
It didn’t take me too long after I had cooled off a bit to realize that I had overreacted! I had resorted to yelling as my first course of action and had added the “forbidden name calling” into the mix to boot. Not only did I neglect to say hello when I came in but I never even stopped to ask why the place was such a disaster. Sure, they should have cleaned up after themselves, and I had had a lousy tiring day but that was no justification for my behavior. Oh boy, did I owe them an apology! “Humble pie here I come.” I thought. “I do dislike the taste of that dish!”
Apologizing to them didn’t really make up for my explosion but it did take some of the sting out of my insults. By the time I got down to the business of telling them that I was wrong and I that shouldn’t have yelled and called them ‘”slobs” and declared that they “never clean up” etc. they too were feeling apologetic about not getting back in to clean up before I got home. They were all excited about the incredible volcano they had built and had been wise enough to take it outside to set off the eruption and had completely lost track of the time in the midst of it all. The lava that exploded out of their mountain had turned out exactly the right color and they were all excited thinking about showing me what they had created when I would come home.
It can be difficult as parents to tell our children that we are sorry when we mess up. It is potentially hard to tell anyone that we are sorry because it means that we need to humble ourselves and admit our wrongdoing. Parents make mistakes just like anyone else. Sometimes we might worry that our children will lose respect for us if we show them that we are wrong. Luckily the truth is the opposite. Children will respect us more when they see this happening. It shows children that we are secure enough in ourselves to be able to face our faults and it demonstrates that we respect them and their feelings as well. The best part of all is that it models to them how to be able to say sorry to someone when they have done wrong. Our children learn more from the way we act than all the things that we can tell them.