Parents are not perfect; we make mistakes and make wrong decisions. It is normal, and for that reason, you should not feel bad or look the other way when this happens. Children need you to be their best example and guide in life; they will learn from you. Asking for forgiveness or saying ‘I’m sorry’ is very important to teach children the importance of humility, but above all, to teach that adults are also responsible for our actions and behaviours.
The importance of asking your children for forgiveness
They are simple words and have a great emotional impact on children; however, it seems that apologizing or assuming the error is not something that parents are used to doing when necessary. Many parents do not realize the importance of asking their children for forgiveness. Also, many of them think that they don’t need to apologize for their actions or behaviours because they are their parents.
For many, it is not part of the culture for adults to admit that they have done something wrong in front of children, even when it is obvious that they are to blame. In reality, when a father or mother apologizes to a child, what they do is further consolidate the relationship between them and provide the little one (and not so young) with a comforting sense of security and well-being.
When parents make mistakes and apologize to their children (for example when they yell, when they misbehave, when they say something that is not true, when they have inappropriate behaviour, etc.), they will be instilling a positive value system and also demonstrating to their children that people are not perfect and that nothing happens because of it. We all make mistakes, what matters is to recognize it, learn from it, and that next time, we can be an improved version of ourselves.
Parents are role models, and when they apologize or forgive, they are demonstrating that steps must be taken to accept responsibility after making a mistake, and this is much more important than the mistake itself. Children must be taught that what is important is not the mistake made, but the way in which that mistake is handled.
The benefits of apologizing to your children
We are not beings superior to children, quite the opposite … Therefore, it is necessary to be aware of the benefits of asking for their forgiveness whenever necessary. It is important to validate the feelings of the children, say why we apologize exactly (specifying the behaviour or action) and also, it is a priority to be totally sincere.
The ability for parents to acknowledge mistakes and accept responsibility for their actions will cause children to do the same. For this and the following, this action is very important:
- Self-acceptance is encouraged. We accept who we are, including our limitations. When parents apologize they send the message that they are imperfect… and that’s okay.
- Show that being wrong is not being weak. Children need to learn to ask for forgiveness through example and to accept failure as a sign of strength and courage.
- Avoid blame for making a mistake. Apologizing to a child teaches him to know that living with a lie is worse than admitting wrong.
- Children prepare better for life; they know that adults can be responsible and loving and that they still make mistakes.
- Learning and problem-solving opportunities increase.
- Mistakes are inevitable; children will learn that there are things that cannot be learned if they make mistakes.
- Taking risks can mean making mistakes.
- Increase self-esteem. When parents admit their faults, they are showing their children that they feel secure in themselves to face the consequences of their actions. This will create good modelling of healthy self-esteem.