Not so long ago I was approached by an anxious parent. She told me she was so mad and worried she didn’t know what to do! Her teenage boy apparently did something inexcusable and she is finding herself unable to forgive him. Her question was, “How do I let him know I love him even though I am mad at him for making a mistake?”
One of the most difficult parts of being a parent is learning to accept our children’s mistakes. We can certainly advise other parents on the subject, but when it comes to our own kids, it’s easier said than done!
You see, our love for our kids is a powerful and sometimes destructive tool; just like anger caps an iceberg of a mix of hidden emotions. Love is an inverted iceberg showing various emotions and hiding love.
When we see our kids as an extension of who we are; our limiting beliefs, our old mistakes, and memories cloud our judgment. Their mistakes become our mistakes and their failures become our failures. It becomes very easy for us to judge them according to standards we set for ourselves.
What we need to remember here is that our kids are unique individuals doing the best they can with the limited resources they have collected up to date. Each mistake they make is an opportunity for them to learn, grow and gain new resources.
So, next time your child makes a mistake—and believe me it will happen-–stop to think…
“What emotion do I want to bring to the surface and express my love with? Anger or calmness, disappointment or encouragement, blame or forgiveness, anxiety or composure, fear or acceptance?”
My advice to my client was, “Have you tried telling him?” With this intense realization, tears came to her eyes. “No,” she said, “I haven’t. But I will now.”
- Don’t expect your children to be perfect and encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes.
- Don’t rescue them from their mistakes, instead, support them when they do
- Share your mistakes with your children, and tell them how you were able to learn.
- Teach them good decision-making techniques.
- Help them come up with options to fix their mistakes.
- Let them know your love is unconditional.