That’s what the old level of hierarchy implies, doesn’t?
Admitting you are wrong and apologizing both fall under the ‘weakness category’ and show children that they can walk all over you. That’s what some seem to think, anyway.
Im all for supporting moms and dads. Reminding them that, “If you’re trying as hard as you can that’s all that matters”. And I get it, because it is hard; We need that when it’s hard.
Parents break down, gets stressed, reach their limits for the day or the hour, they’re human. Sometimes they need to walk away because their child is still crying and they can’t take it anymore. Sometimes, even when its harder on the child, we need to walk away for a minute and collect ourselves so that we can control our emotions and actions when they’re heightened in a situation – instead of worsening the situation by not letting ourselves cool down. Sometimes its all just about damage control.
But what I literally never see or hear about, is people talking about how things can affect children. We are all so scared of offending parents or increasing anxiety, or making them feel bad, that during hard times everyone’s says “do the best you can and you’re doing fine, children are resilient.”
Rarely anyone speaks out on the behalf of the children who are equally having a hard time. Rarely anyone steps up to advocate for the ones that can’t do that themselves.
I’m not talking about slacking on the dishes or letting the kids watch tv all day because the parents are too exhausted to entertain. This is about when limits are pushed and parents start yelling, or ignoring, or not listening to their kids. When kids are putting up a fuss at bedtime or having a tantrum and the parent hits their last nerve and starts getting rough and trying to force their children to do what they want.
People don’t talk about how to come back to that bad day and make up for it. Take responsibility for how they felt or reacted and make it a teaching opportunity for the child and the parent. How to learn the triggers within the parent. How the first 2-5 years of life is the most vital time for brain development and literally everything a parent does – everyway they handle a situation, or their child’s distresss – determines what pathways in the child’s brain are formed. What neurons fire and when and to where. The entire blueprint for the child’s mind is being built, they aren’t just born with it. There’s a phrase called ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’, which is a brief discription on why certain things make you feel a certain way when you can’t explain why.
This isn’t meant to mom shame or parent shame or make anyone feel bad in the slightest; but to bring awareness. To bring understanding, to learn new ways and expectations, and develop better recovery modes.
Depending on the age of child, the responses will all be different of course. So it’s up to the parent to gauge post-situation damage control.
Somethings I really want to remind parents of though, is that it is okay and needed to apologize for their own behvaiour. They need to take responsibility that they didn’t handle things well, not shrug it off and forget about it because they’re the parent and they have dominence over the child. And honest apologies do not make one weak, but stronger.
Respectful parenting is treating your children how you would want to be treated. Just because they are small, does not negate that they deserve respect and explanations.
Parents should also admit how they’re feeling. Not hide it to show superiority and seem inferior. They need to admit to their children when they are feeling frustrated, mad, sad, scared, nervous, worried, happy, relieved, etc. That they are human and just like kids, they temporarily lose their calmness due to hightened emotions in difficult situations. This doesn’t excuse their behaviour or their children’s when they act out, but instead teaches them how to take responsibility, how an apology feels appreciated when its meant. It makes children feel equal, not lesser than, and help them build and define their own sense of self, regardless of their age.
It seems like some rely on the resilience of children to dismiss their own bad behaviour as adults. Children are wired to survive, to move on. They may be able to shake things off the next hour or day but their muscle memory in their body and in their brain still retains what happened, and how they reacted; How it made them feel. And that stays with them for the rest of their life.