We all make mistakes. It’s one of the pitfalls of being a living breathing human being. I don’t know if everybody, like me, looks back on some of the bigger ones occasionally and still cringes over the heinous nature of their error or the people who got hurt because of it, but it’s probably no bad thing if you do, as long as it stops your from repeating history.
We tell our children that they should learn from their mistakes, so why do we beat ourselves up so badly for the ones we make? Mothers, especially, are guilty of this. We constantly berate ourselves – internally and out loud – for the slip ups and ‘bad parenting’ that we do on a day to day basis so, as well as the historic cock ups we still admonish ourselves for, we now also have to factor in a constant, daily tally of our wrongdoings as applied to our children.
Losing my temper is a big one I’m guilty of. I shout, I even bellow, and I hate myself for it. There’s no excuse – there really isn’t – but it happens time and time again. I try to reassure myself that I’m not a bad parent; that I was
tired bone shatteringly exhausted, doing something dangerous like cooking or holding hot tea and that my child has been repeatedly, persistently, determinedly ignoring my requests to stop the behaviour that is irritating me or putting himself at risk, but it doesn’t stop the critical voice in my head from castigating me for my loss of control. Even worse I can see my own angry behaviour mirrored in some of my son’s more unpleasant reactions and what a terrifying eye-opener that is.
When I’ve cooled down I do go to my son and apologise. I explain that I lost my temper and I shouldn’t have, that there are better ways to deal with things and I’m sorry. Usually I will explain how his behaviour led to my explosion, but I try and do it in such a way that it doesn’t become an exercise in shifting blame, but merely pointing out that actions have consequences – or at least I hope that’s how it comes across. Finally I ask for him to forgive me.
All we can do, as parents or as human beings, is to make a sincere apology, explain our actions and try to move on. If we can’t model self-control to our children then I suppose we can at least model contrition and penance and usually (as happens in our family anyway) we can learn, from them, true forgiveness.