Do What I Say, Not What I Do…And Also Sometimes Not What I Say

The other day Eva and I were watching Frozen (of course) in the living room and after seeing Olaf take off running in a comedic way, Eva whipped her head around at me, said “Abba! Come on!”, and started to energetically run out of the room. Before even thinking about it, I found myself saying: “Eva, honey, no we gotta stay in the living room.”

She turned around and looked at me. “Come one, abba!” she said again.

And all of a sudden I thought:  Why the heck do we have to stay here? Just because I don’t want to get up? 

I got off the couch and walked over to my girl. I took her head in my hands and told her I was so sorry. From her experience of apologizing to Linds and I in the past for hitting us or throwing her juice after we told her not to, she knew what to say: “It’s okay, abba!” She then took off running with me enthusiastically following behind her.  

She’s only 2 and doesn’t fully grasp the idea of being told sorry and offering forgiveness, and me not wanting to get up to run might not seem like a big deal (nor is it even close to the only thing I’ve needed to apologize to her for), but I made a decision a long time ago that I never want to shy away from apologizing to my kids when I do something wrong, or even unintentionally hurt them.

I want to be the kind of parent that readily admits when I’m wrong and readily asks for forgiveness from my kids. I’m often tempted to think that it might be counterproductive and appear weak by doing so, but I think it takes a greater strength to humble myself and demonstrate for them the life-long need to be honest when I get it wrong.

A mentor of mine once told me one of his parenting rules, which was: If, after asking one of his kids to do something, he couldn’t answer them asking “why” with a healthy, appropriate answer, then they didn’t have to do it. He couldn’t ever use “because I said so” since most of the time he would say that, the thing he was asking them to do was because he didn’t want to do it himself or it wasn’t even worth doing.

So taking the garbage out was to serve the family and learn the importance of maintaining a home. Helping build the deck was to learn construction and home repair. Putting the phones down at dinner was to practice healthy boundaries and engaging in conversation.

But not getting off the couch to play with my daughter, was just me being lazy and dumb.

I’m new at parenting so I could be way off, but I know I want my kids to never be afraid to apologize, because I never was.

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