As a mom I strive to be many things: Loving, Fun, Creative, Attached, Organized, Comfortable, Laid Back, Joyful, Full of Laughter, Playful, and especially, Humble. I think it is vital for me to be a parent that isn’t afraid to show humility whether it’s to others in general or most importantly, to my own child.
My experience with this is most often when I apologize to my child (which I will talk more about below) but I was surprised when I made the suggestion to another parent to apologize to their child that I was met with an adamant, “No way, I would never apologize to my child! I am the parent and that is that.” Apologizing appeared to represent weakness and lack of power which this parent did not want to display to their child.
My goal has never been to display power over my child. My goal has been to show him how to love and respect himself and others, to help him explore his world in a safe way, and to guide him into the amazing little person he is growing up to be.
Here are three examples of when I’m served a big slice of Humble Pie:
1. I apologize to my child often. I make mistakes almost daily with my son. Some days I yell too much. Some days I am too busy and distracted and don’t hear what he’s trying to tell me. Some days I don’t respond as nicely as I could. Some days I am tired and annoyed and desperate for time alone and he knows it. Some days my husband and I argue and it scares him a little bit, leaving him wondering why mom and dad are upset with each other. Some days he’s oblivious to anything I’ve done “wrong,” but I feel like I’ve let him down somehow. On these days, I hold him and tell him how sorry I am. I tell him that I am sorry I yelled at him. I tell him that mom is tired and should not have acted like that. I tell him that I am sorry for whatever it is and tell him that I will do better next time. I tell him that I am sorry and that sometimes mom makes mistakes. I ask him if he forgives me. Sometimes I will hold his hand and look into his beautiful blue eyes while apologizing. I want him to learn that it’s okay to be wrong sometimes and that it is important and powerful to apologize to others. I want him to learn from us that apologizing is a sign of strength, love and respect. If he doesn’t learn that from me, who will he learn it from? And if I don’t practice it, how can I expect him to practice it?
2. I recognize that he is a whole complex human being with a personality of his own. I recognize that he has needs and moods just like the rest of us. I think it’s important for me to remember this because it helps keep things in perspective especially when my son is throwing a tantrum, or screaming for something, or crying in the grocery store, or is acting super grumpy. Just because he is three years old and is still learning about life, it doesn’t dismiss the validity of how he is currently feeling. Instead of getting frustrated or upset that he is acting out, I try to acknowledge his feelings and talk about the feelings behind the behavior and help guide him to expressing it through words instead of negative actions. He has to put up with my bad moods and tantrums and his dad’s; shouldn’t he be given the same grace and acknowledgement?
3. I teach my child all about life, and my child teaches me what life is all about. We are all familiar with the phrase, “Out of the mouths of babes” and in my experience it’s true. The wisdom my child shares with me is incredible and often, life changing. Some of these practical life lessons include: how to laugh more, not being so serious all the time, focusing and existing in the present moment, going with the flow, wonderment in the small miracles, and beauty in ordinary things.
“Don’t wait for other people to be loving, giving, compassionate, grateful, forgiving, generous, or friendly… lead the way!” -Steve Maraboli
The above examples are ways that I choose to lead the way for my child…. what are some examples of how you choose to lead the way in your family?