Dan Seaborn: Parents are allowed to make mistakes
For three years, little Isaak dealt with frustrating sinus problems. His parents took him to numerous doctors, and yet no one could figure out why it was so hard for this kid to breathe.
Isaak was prescribed multiple rounds of antibiotics but nothing seemed to help.
Finally, one doctor took a good look in his nose and thought he noticed something in his nostril that didn’t belong. A visit to the specialist helped to discover the hidden perpetrator: a good-sized Lego piece that was camped out in a tent of fungus. Since removing the toy, Isaak is breathing, eating and sleeping better on top of having more energy. His parents feel terrible that it took so long to find something so simple.
It probably won’t be the last time they’ll feel guilty as parents. It’s practically built into the job description. I’m sure many of you have your own stories of situations where you wished you would have done this or that or had known about something before you made that decision for your kids, but the journey of parenting is often a big unknown. Having more than one child doesn’t help either because no two kids are alike. Just when you think you have things figured out, the only thing you figure out is that you really don’t.
My wife and I have four children, and raising them has involved more than just being around. Parents need to be present. What does that mean? It means not just being in the same room with your children, but practicing good parenting skills often, so it becomes the norm. These skills include things like modeling good behavior for your children all the time, not just when it’s convenient, when you feel like it or when you are in front of other people. I’ve done all three!
It also involves being willing to discipline your children even though you know they won’t like it. Children need discipline and order in their lives despite their desire to run around the house and go crazy all day. It’s OK to let loose, but a constant stream of disorderly conduct will cause a child to drown in misbehavior. Discipline actually helps children feel more secure because they know someone cares enough to correct them.
Showing love and affection never gets old when it comes to your children. They may resist it as they grow up, but I believe deep down inside children still appreciate a hug and comforting words regardless of age. Don’t be fooled by their tough exterior because inside they’ll always desire the love of their parents.
It’s also important to apologize or admit to your children when you’ve made a mistake. How else will your children learn humility or how to own up to their responsibilities if not from their parents? If you’ve ever dealt with someone who always thinks they’re right, you know those encounters can be difficult. Don’t worry about losing your child’s respect because you made a mistake. More likely, you will have earned it by your transparency and humbleness.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart but is more a matter of the heart. It’s about loving your children for who they are, not always for what they do. As a parent, you will always be vulnerable to feeling guilty, and kids will still make poor choices, but love will always prevail and help you to win at home.
— Dan Seaborn is the founder of the Zeeland, Mich.-based group Winning at Home Inc. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.