Parenting Adventures Cont’d
It’s been another fun and interesting week of parenting. I am quite certain the halloween candy hangover didn’t really help either. We still had our candy around the house and it was almost comical how my girls, in the most creative of ways, were scheming to consume it all week long. I finally motivated to set the candy aside. This post, however, is not about candy, nor food or nutrition.
This week my girls, both on separate occasions, made decisions that were not in their or other’s best interest. It crossed the gamut of concealing or twisting the truth of a situation to disrespecting another person. Yes, all kids make these kind of choices. I certainly know I did growing up, and admittedly still do at times as an adult. In both of these situations, as I realized the truth of what had actually happened, I confronted my girls. We discussed their choices, the impact of the choices and how I knew that their potential was greater. Minutes into both conversations, there were tears. I could sense a feeling of remorse in disappointing their parents, however, this was just the surface of it. As we sat with the tears, I realized something deeper, that they were sitting with a sense of disappointment in themselves. They felt bad and small about themselves. This was significant. Sure, our choices have an impact on the world around us, but there is also a deep impact on how we feel about ourselves. From my own experience, feeling small and ashamed does not serve anyone.
As a parent, I felt deep compassion for my girls as they sat with this feeling. I wanted my girls to understand the external impact of their choices, but I also wanted them to feel how their choices impacted their sense of self. Both of them took responsibility for what they did and even offered apologies where it felt right. I reminded them that I believed in the goodness in their hearts and their potential, and that we all make mistakes. Acknowledging our mistakes and offering apologies takes great courage and bravery. Those same actions can also help to remind us that we are really good on the inside and sure we have slip-ups. The moment we sincerely take responsibility for the mistakes and if we are fortunate to have someone who sees and believes in our goodness, that is also the moment repair begins on the inside. We do not have to carry a sense of smallness or shame.
This was a new experience for me as a parent because my girls are older. They are not only aware of how they are perceived, but they have a sense of who and how they are on the inside. This stuff on the inside is so important and will impact everything we do in life. This relationship to self needs to be nurtured and repaired as often as it is broken. When a sense of trust in and caring for ourselves is flourishing, most other things will fall into place, including our actions in the world. This does not mean everything will always be easy, but we will have a place to land and return to when it is not.