This week, Shirley, mom of 4, trained early childhood educator and blog editor Growing up with pleasure invites you to discover why it is so important to ask forgiveness from your child and how to go about it so that it is really restorative.
As humans, we need to hear excuses from those who have offended us. It relieves us, allows us to turn the page and move forward. We feel that our hurt is recognized and that the other person regrets their actions, words or behavior. For the child, it is exactly the same: he needs to be asked for forgiveness in order to feel this respect and therefore the love we have for him.
Forgiving your child and asking for forgiveness are equally important principles
The love we have for our children prompts us to forgive their bad behavior. Yet too often we forget that admitting our mistakes and apologizing are just as important.
It is true, that as a parent, we might feel that by acknowledging our wrongs, we risk losing our authority, our credibility or that our children will not look at us in the same way anymore.
Quite the opposite is going to happen. Asking for forgiveness does not take away our authority and does not diminish the greatness of the parent in the eyes of the child.
To apologize when you have offended your child is to recognize that we are human, that we can have more difficult phases in our life and that we can make mistakes. But it is, above all, recognize that our child is a whole person, a loved and respected human being.
We all make mistakes, let’s face them
We know we are all equal in the face of failure. However, it is our reaction when we fail, after hurting or being unfair to our child for example, that sets us apart.
To be wrong is not bad, we just need to know how to admit our mistake, ask for forgiveness and bounce back to do better the next time. Besides, I share here a maxim for overcoming failure as a parent, because let us not forget that failure helps to get up and move forward.
So, of course, it is sometimes difficult to recognize our fault when we feel guilty, when we regret our words or when we have let ourselves be carried away by our emotions.
Yet to ask for forgiveness is admit with humility and sincerity that adults are sometimes wrong and that sometimes we act against our principles. We are not infallible. So there is no shame in asking for forgiveness. It is above all a mark of courage and humility to confess your wrong.
By asking forgiveness from his child, we recognize our mistake, but not only. We also admit that we have done wrong and let’s become aware of our act. It is a start to correct and improve.
Asking the child for forgiveness, a healthy example
Through this act of forgiveness, we are teaching our children very well. Thus, they will know that to recognize one’s wrongs, to ask for forgiveness and to correct one’s mistakes, is fair and noble behavior.
Our simple words will not have the same impact as our actions, because the example marks more children than fine speeches. It is therefore important to lead by example so that our children become able to realize when they are wrong to the point of asking for forgiveness.
The exemplary nature of the adult, as I speak about in this article, is the basis of a relationship of trust between the child and the parent. It is nothing more than mutual respect. So this is the whole point of asking for forgiveness when we act badly towards our children.
Respect the child and he will respect us in return. Let us ask him for forgiveness and he will ask for our forgiveness as well.
Nothing better than showing our children that parents make mistakes too, that adults also have weaknesses (losing their temper and screaming, for example), but that it is important to apologize and offer a solution to fix his mistake.
How to ask forgiveness from your child
There is no point in trying to find the right words to say that we are sorry. We just have to say that we regret making a sincere and deep apology. Let’s not forget, it’s intention, love and respect that counts.
For this, not justifying yourself with “but” is important. Our goal is to admit that we have acted badly, badly spoken, etc… even if it is a reaction which follows a behavior of our child.
To take our apology further, let’s take a look at what Gary Chapman can do for us. The author of the bestselling book The languages of love, which I talked about a lot in the article on the emotional reservoir of the child, wrote another book: The languages of reconciliation.
In the latter, Chapman addresses 5 apology languages that is here :
- Expressing regrets orally: “I’m sorry”
- Acknowledge responsibility: “I was wrong to …”
- Repair: what can be done to fix things (words of emotional repair, material repair, etc.)
- Commit to change and not to start over
- Ask for forgiveness: “I ask your forgiveness. Do you agree to forgive me? “
So that our request is sincere and that the child receives this as a mark of respect and love, it is important to use several of these apology languages. To better understand these different stages, I invite you either to read the book directly or to read the excellent summary that you can find here.
If we love our children unconditionally, we must also respect them. This can only happen through reciprocity. Acknowledging our wrongs and expressing a sincere apology are central elements of a caring and respectful education.
To show that adults too are imperfect, human and sensitive, is to recognize that our children have the right to be human, imperfect and sensitive too.