I know many parents feel like there are just certain things we don’t have to do as a privilege of being a parent. I don’t have to explain. I don’t have to abide by the rules. I don’t have to apologize. I shouldn’t have to because I’m the parent, and they’re the child, right? Wrong. I’m here to tell you that adapting that way of thinking is a sure fire way to push your child into developing unhealthy communication with you, and in turn, with other people.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Child: “Mom, can I spend the night at Ashley’s house?”
Mom: “No, you can’t“
Child: “but why, mom?”
Mom: “because I said so.“
At this point, the conversation is over. The parent probably thinks this conversation went well, while the child probably walked away angry and confused. Many of us grew up hearing “because i said so” as an answer and never questioned it. As a result, we grew up and started giving our children the same answer. Plot twist: it’s okay to explain things to your child.
Yes, you are the adult and you make the rules, but it’s totally okay to have an open ended conversation with your child. It doesn’t make you any less of a parent if you explain your “why”. In fact, it helps children understand how to communicate better and instills trust in them that they can have a fair conversation with you. Every child should be confident in knowing that they can ask their parents about anything. Whether the answer is yes or no, they should be able to ask you for clarity, either way. Instead of just saying your daughter can’t stay over at Ashley’s house “because you said so“, perhaps you can explain to your daughter that you aren’t comfortable with her being unsupervised at someone else’s house because of all the reports of molestation in our communities. Of course, you can make the conversation age appropriate, but please consider that explaining things to your child may actually help them in the long run. Now, if they keep asking after you’ve already explained, then you are in your parental rights to “because I said so” them for as long as you feel like it.
Now, let’s talk about apologizing. A couple months ago, a thing happened that I will never forget. Richard and I had an argument that morning and I started my day off on the wrong foot. I had a client that worked me like a slave and still wasn’t satisfied with the end result, even though it was damn near perfect. I had a super important deadline that I didn’t meet, which never happens, and I got called out on it. I was so busy trying to meet this deadline, I didn’t eat lunch, drink water, or even use the bathroom while at work. On the way home, I got a “thanks, but no thanks” email from a brand that I thought for sure wanted to work with me. I picked Sanai up from school, fed her, did some reading, and was ready to put her to bed. After her bath, I was trying to get her to wind down but she was full of energy. As I was trying to get her dressed, she laid on the floor and started rolling around after she had just taken a bath. Before I could even scold her, she peed all over her floor. At this point, I was rushing to grab her and she ran smack dab into my ankles, knocked me over and made me hit my head on the corner of the dresser. I was so frustrated, all I remember was yelling at her at the top of my lungs. She cried so hard, she started shaking. You know when the baby is crying so hard that you see the mouth moving and the tears rolling, but no sound is coming out because the sound is building up? That’s what was happening. I tried to console her, hug her and kiss her, but nothing worked. She continued to cry hysterically and I felt like the “
Worst Mom Ever Award” was presented to me on a nice shiny plaque.
In that moment, I was clueless. Thoughts started to run through my head. What could I do? How could I make her feel better? How could I show her that I was sorry? And then it hit me. Courtney, how about you just say you’re sorry. I asked Sanai to look at me and when our eyes met, I apologized to her. I told her I had a long day and I took it out on her. I told her I was wrong and I asked if she forgave me. She slowly stopped crying, hugged me, and said yes. Now my daughter is almost 3, but I swear, her hearing me apologize and ask her for forgiveness was a game changer for her. The look of comfort, reassurance, and forgiveness on her face was a game changer for me, too. I learned in that moment that apologizing, even to your kids, is okay. And it’s not just okay, it’s crucial. It’s crucial in teaching our babies how to apologize and how to accept apologies. It’s crucial in teaching our babies that everyone makes mistakes. It’s crucial in teaching our babies that anyone who is wronged, deserves an apology, no matter what age.
Mama’s (and papa’s, too, if you’re reading), talk to your kids. Apologize to your kids. Explain things to your kids. You’ll thank yourself later… and they will, too.
Xo, Consuella ♥