I have said it before: I know it’s hard to be a parent. I know it takes a lot of time, effort, and giving. I know it’s thankless. This isn’t really new news, though. If you have kids, you also have the responsibility to them and to your self – as well as to society – to raise your kids to know right from wrong. It’s your job to teach them what it means to be responsible for your own self and to accept consequences of our actions. This is no small task.
But. It is NOT your job as a parent to apologize for your kids’ behavior. If you do your job right, your children are not going to be someone to apologize for anyway; they will instead be a source of pride.
So what IS your job? My two cents worth: Teach your kids to take responsibility. Teach them how to be kind. Teach them how to take care of others and how to reach out. Teach them to look beyond themselves and to care. Teach them with your words and your actions. And – this one is very important – be there for them. An absent parent is a negligent parent. True, often times work takes precedence over being able to stay at home, and it comes to us as the parent to find a loving and reliable care giver to tend to our kids. However, the true lessons of life should fall to us as the parent to deliver. Your nanny/au pair/day care center is not the parent, you are. So step up.
Teaching kids comes from the words we deliver and how we deliver them and also from our actions. If the kids see you doing something repeatedly (e.g. holding the door for someone, or excusing yourself when you sneeze, or treating others with kindness), they learn as many lessons from that as they might from books or the classroom. Sadly, negative behaviors are just as easy to learn: if they see you repeatedly make rude comments or disrespect your elders, they will learn that behavior as well.
When we apologize for something our kids did, or didn’t do, we are saying that we didn’t do our job. We weren’t there for our kids. We weren’t present and available to honor the commitment we made on the day that they were born. We failed our kids. The person we should be apologizing to then would be our kids. How, though, do you tell your kids that you let them down? How do you explain to them that you failed as a parent, and this is why they act inappropriately or don’t understand right from wrong. If we fail our kids, where can we go from there?
I hate to say it, but in this day and age, an apology isn’t really worth that much. I often tell my kids that an apology is good and nice, but what I want to see is that they learned from what happened (or didn’t happen, as the case may be) and that it won’t be repeated. I want to see that they learned from their action, and will make an effort to make a better decision should the situation arise again. Friends, I love my kids. I know they can be REALLY loud and really wound up. I know they can be dirty and mean to each other. But I also know that they have kind hearts, and have learned to respect others. They know that a kind word does wonders, and that a smile can be healing medicine. They know a greeting to a stranger can earn a smile, and that even our furry neighbors deserve positive attention. They know there is a place to act like a boy boy, and then there are times when they need to reel it in. They know all this because my hubby and I try our hardest to give them positive examples to follow. Oh, we’re not perfect. But we try, and the kids see that, so they too try. And honestly, some days, trying is the best you’re going to do.
Friends, parenting isn’t something to apologize for. Do your best for your children, and be the citizen you want them to grow up to be. They will watch and learn. Give them positive examples and lessons to follow. Your kids will thank you for it.