Every parent screws up, it’s impossible not to. Every mom thinks to herself at least ten times a day “I just really messed that kid up.”
When I was about 6, and learning to read, my mom and I were in the car with my Grandma. My mom kept asking me to read to my grandma. (She, like any proud parent, was trying to show off my new skill.) Needless to say I was very stubborn at 6 – no really, really stubborn. So in shear frustration and anger, my mom pulled the car over and spanked me for not reading. Did I mention we were on a busy road? Anyway, you might be thinking “you poor kid that must have been so horrible how scarring, what a terrible experience.” Hears the scoop: the only reason I can tell you this story is because my mom apologizes for it on almost a regular basis. I have no personal memory of it at all. Also, let me assure you it had no lasting mental effect on my either. I don’t have a fear of reading, in fact, I love reading almost to a fault. And I don’t have terrible flashbacks if I’m reading in the car, although I do get a stomach ache but I’m 99.9% sure it has nothing to do with this incident.
We all screw up, we all over react. Whether it’s saying to a 6 year old “what’s wrong with you?!” when he’s crying about pants because he doesn’t like the way they feel on his legs (I did that just last week), or maybe out of frustration with a 2 year old you put them in a car seat with a little more force than necessary. Maybe it’s having to walk away from a newborn that won’t stop crying and you’ve tried EVERYTHING and you’re just so tired and you start to think maybe I should shake him just a little… Or if your daughter catches you rolling your eyes at her when she asks “aren’t I a pretty princess?” and you just can’t take anymore of this girly stuff – how many years can this go on for? Maybe that one is just me and it really will be scarring to her. And yes I’ll pay for those therapy sessions.
Anyway, we all think these things, or similar things, on a daily basis. We’re not perfect and we’re tired and sometimes we’re just lazy or in a bad mood. So when you find yourself wondering how badly you’ve screwed up a particular child, remember that a majority of the time when we think something will leave a lasting impression and our kids will become horrible people because of it, that it’s probably not the case. If it is? Don’t worry you can pay for therapy! God gave us these kids and it’s not a surprise to him when we say or do things we shouldn’t. If he gave us our children because he knew we were the perfect parents for these particular children, then I’m sure he took into account to give them just the right amount of stuff to make it through all our mess ups. Most of the time our mess ups are for our own sake to grow us and change us to see the things that we need to work on. If you think about it, kids are like therapy for us. We sometimes learn from our parents mistakes and we are better parents for it. Sometimes we follow in their foot steps whether for good or bad, and when it’s bad that’s our opportunity to change and grow and find the healing we need to be better parents.
Last week when I yelled at Zeph for crying about pants, in the end of the whole situation I had to apologize. I realized that while yes, there was no need for him to cry about clothes (we have a rule in our house about clothes and TV and food and school that they are all gifts and not every person has them and we should always be grateful for what we do have even if it’s not perfect) that in that situation I was being a hypocrite. How many days do I try on everything I own and while I don’t cry about it, I still am being ungrateful for what I am blessed to have. In the end, every time we mess up it’s a moment we can learn from and our children can learn from. God is perfect and gives us all ample opportunity to change and grow and become better people.
So instead of beating yourself up the next time you mess up, ask yourself “Can I make this situation better? And how can I change and how can I approach it in a better way?”
And if you can’t, there is always therapy. 🙂