Parenting involves tasks: planned/unplanned, routine/one-off, joyous/miserable, silly/mature. No task is lesser than the other or more important than the one up next. However, some of the tasks never get the attention they deserve from the parents. One such task: Apologize To Your Kid.
One might feel there is something wrong here. The child has to learn to apologize (this is an acceptable topic in parenting discussions). After all, the kids are always up to something that they should not be doing. The kids have every reason to apologize though they won’t. Saying sorry and owning up needs to be taught to kids and can be spoken about by parents.
But, a parent has to apologize! That too, to the child!! One’s own child!!!
Parents Make Mistakes, Too
The basic tenet: Humans make mistakes. When humans falter, they own up and express regret. Now, it so happens that parents are humans too. If humans can make mistakes, so can parents. If humans should/are expected to apologize, why not parents? Why would apologizing to one’s kid be a taboo subject?
The issue seems to be with popular culture. Somehow, somewhere, the thinking that has taken roots is that the parents do not make mistakes when it comes to their children. The parents have the best interests of their children in mind and actions, so whatever they do/don’t do has to be/is fine. The parents are next only to Gods, rather even more than Gods, for they are living Gods.
Well, parents, as mortals, can end up taking out their frustrations at their children for no fault of theirs. The child could make a tiny mistake, but end up hearing an earful because the parent had a bad day at the office. Or even worse, the child did not do anything wrong but he/she was the only one the parent could take it out on.
The kid wants quality time and attention from the parents, but they are into their screen time. The child wants to voice/share his/her feelings/aspirations, the parents are busy with their rat-race/lives. Or, the parent is actually trying hard to do some good/worthwhile for the child, but the child has some other ideas.
At the best of times, even if the intention is right, the execution can go horribly wrong. And at times, even the so-called right intention gets misplaced/mistimed/misdirected. The parents can get it wrong – transactional/strategic/behavioural/plain bad luck. Who’s the adult in all these? Who has to own up? Why invoke notions of parents as holier-than-thou?
Doesn’t the child deserve an apology?
Change The Narrative
The social/professional life requires an adult to own up if he/she has goofed up. Yes, high and mighty, powerful and influential, gets away without owning up. Somehow, the parenting seems to mirror this real-life scenario. The child can be intimidated, is helpless to snap and vulnerable to be taken for a ride without a helmet. In short, no apologizing required by the parent.
Do we see examples of a public apology by parents to their children? Do we get to hear about private apology by parents to their children? Leave aside public/private apologies, have we known about our grandparents apologizing to our parents? Most importantly, have we ever been apologized to by our own parents? A resounding No. There is no precedence of a parent apologize to his/her kid.
Come on, he/she is just a child. The kid won’t even remember tomorrow what happened today. My parents did not apologize to me and I turned out fine. What’s the fuss? Well, the child has the full range of emotions and does have a strong memory than he/she gets credit for. Moreover, isn’t there that tiny reminiscence wherein you feel your parents could have done better?
In nutshell, the chequered past/misplaced notions cannot be the reason for junking an upright behaviour. If a certain aspect needs a change in thought and application, so be it. The logic that it has not been challenged till now so it’s fine, is outrightly flawed and makes us Neanderthal. Lack of sensitivity on parental apology to children is a sure-shot candidate for this distinction.
Apologize To Your Kid
Parents feel that they have every right to an apology from their children. They might as well learn to give one back – an honest regret.
Parents try hard to make their children decent human beings. They might as well accept that they too are humans enough to make a mistake when it comes to their children and raise a hand to it.
Parents want to teach owning up and saying sorry to their children. They might as well walk the talk by owning up and saying sorry themselves to their children.
It is a fundamental right of a child to receive an apology from the parent, as and when the parent – the human screws up. (Coming Next – How To Apologize To Your Kid).
What’s your say?
PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.