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CONFESSIONS AND APOLOGIES

Confession eases guilt; apologies mend relationships. One should follow the other. Good enough parents do both. Easy for some, not for many.

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In a  Ted talk,  Rita Pierson, talks about making every child feel like a champion. But she shines brightest to me when she talks about apologizing to her students. Here is what she says:

I taught a lesson once on ratios. I’m not real good with math, but I was working on it. And I got back and looked at that teacher edition. I’d taught the whole lesson wrong.

So I came back to class the next day, and I said, “Look, guys, I need to apologize. I taught the whole lesson wrong. I’m so sorry.”

They said, “That’s okay, Ms. Pierson. You were so excited, we just let you go.” 

I had a high school teacher apologize to me once.  He was the only teacher to be that strong.  He was directing the Junior Play.  I had a small part and at dress rehearsal flubbed my lines. He lit into me. I was embarrassed, but also knew I hadn’t studied my few lines enough. His yelling motivated me.  No big damage done.  Nevertheless, when he sought me out later and apologized he won my heart forever.  He remains a star in my mind.

As I search my memories, I think he is actually the only adult who ever offered me an apology for behaving badly. My father came close when he was battling the cancer that took his life.

“I wish I had spent more time with my children as a father.”

Not quite an apology, but powerful words, that let me say in return, “That would have been nice, but the time you did spend with us was precious.”

My words seemed to comfort him.

My mother, who had a bit more to apologize for, never did.  The closest to an apology was the sense following her death that her spirit hovered around me asking me to forgive her shortcomings.  Now the Freudian minded shrinks would say that was wishful thinking on my part. Perhaps, but it mended our relationship and was one of the experiences making me in  after life connections  we do not understand.

Why when apologies are so powerful, do so many of us find it hard to say, “i’m sorry.” 

The answer: we are afraid of being seen as flawed, weak, and  less than perfect.  We must confess to ourselves that we have done wrong. Knowing we have done wrong hurts and admitting  so  hurts and we humans are programmed to avoid hurt.   Sad and not just for us, but for our children. 

PARENTing ADVICE ABOUT APOLOGIZING

To be effective an apology must be sincere, should state what you did wrong,  and should offer no explanations or excuses.  Even adding “that I spoke out of  hunger” decreases the effectiveness of an apology.

Making a sincere apology is easiest when you know you blew it and were totally in the wrong.  Stating what you did wrong, and then adding “I am sorry.” is all that is needed in such situations.  Three quick examples:

  •  I broke my promise to be home on time and here I am late.  I am sorry.
  • I yelled at you without hearing your side of the story; that was wrong, I am sorry.
  • I forgot to wash your favorite shirt, I am sorry.

Gets a bit more complicated in some situations with children.  You are responsible for teaching acceptable behavior and that means feelings will be hurt.  But it really isn’t as hard as you think.  Again keeping it simple works:

  • I see that hurt, I am sorry. 
  • I’m sorry what I said upset you.
  • I’m sorry.

The younger the child, the easier such apologies are accepted.  As your children age, you might meet with some back talk, sulking, or walks away angrily,  worry not.

Ignore sulking or walking away.  Listen to the back talk and occasionally repeat, the words “I’m sorry”  Once  the venting has died down, go on with your life as if the event is over and done with, for it should be.

STAY STRONG

My book How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting will be a free down load from June 21 through June 27th.  Apologizing and making amends would be a good topic for such a meeting.

Meanwhile, thank you for all you do, keeping caring and sharing, it makes a difference.

Katherine

DISCLAIMER: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA.  If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. I have dysgraphia which means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are.  If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere.  If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.

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PARENTS BETRAYED

A bit of a blog rant against parent bashing.

A picture about the joys of parent bashing.

 Image found on Pastordk’s blogspot. 

This is what turned me Cranky … teenagers asked for help of a therapist …

“I have trust issues. I don’t trust people, even very close family. I always think people are out to get me and that everyone hates me. Also, if I feel loved or happy a warning goes off in my head telling me I shouldn’t be fooled: no one REALLY loves me, and if I believe that they do, I will end up getting hurt. I don’t know why I feel this way! Nothing ever happened to me to justify this intense fear of rejection.

I understand that part of my believing no one loves me is because I don’t really feel worthy of love because I don’t love myself. Feeling like there is no safe place, no person that can be trusted, is an awful awful feeling. I always feel in danger, I don’t believe the people around me. I feel like people are trying to be nice but they are really lying to me. Please help me feel better.

Nothing ever happened to me to justify this intense fear of rejection.

The therapist answered:

 I know you believe that, but I’m certain that something must have caused this “awful feeling” in you. My guess is that your parents didn’t give you a consistent, constant feeling of “YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE LOVED. WE LOVE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, ALWAYS.”

When parents give children those messages, loud and clear, kids don’t feel the way you’ve described your feelings in your question.

I know most of you are parents, so you understand my crankiness. The therapist was a parent-basher; she looked like a kid herself. Moreover, her advice probably widened the gap between the girl and her parents.

I commented crankily, but probably should have added a small “Thank you” for giving me something to rant about here.

PARENTING ADVICE ABOUT TRUST

My comment complained about parent bashing and then offered the following ideas:

Tip one:  A reality check.  Betrayal and broken trust are part of every relationship no matter how loving.  Think of the toddler in the midst of separation anxiety? Parent leaves. Trust broken. Life goes on.  Think of the beloved grandparent who dies.  Trust broken. Life goes on.

Tip two: We betray each other because we need conflict. Knowing that can keep expectations more realistic.  Keeping expectations realistic reduces the pain that comes from every day betrayals. Moreover, it aids dealing effectively when trust gets broken big time.

Tip three: Rating scales are important in maintaining perspective on many things and broken trust is one of those things.  Even a simple three point scale can help.  Small betrayal, medium betrayal, big time betrayal. It builds perspective.

Tip four:   Strong self-soothing skills help deal with life’s hurtful moments. Think about getting my eBook Self-soothing, creating calm in your life.  It costs less than a Banana Split and does more good.

Tip five:  Strong self-defense skills improve confidence. As always I suggest children profit from taking Peace Aikido training.

STAY STRONG

Broken trust is part of life and  we all need to know that. But distrust can be carried too far.  Being hopeful and emotionally strong enough to withstand hurts and betrayals is the best mix.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

DANGEROUS RISKS

As promised, a few tips about dealing with teens who take dangerous risks.  

Reality check; Parents do not have the control the experts want you to think you have.  Not even the police can stop all risky behavior.  I picked this picture becauase it reminded me of the dangerous water-filled  quarry, the kids in our neighborhood all loved to swim in.

It was fenced in, posted with no trespassing signs,  but kids would rather swim there than their parents’ pools or at nearby Long Island Sound. Increased police sur­veillance only added to the adventure. The kids always figure out when they could swim and dive into the boulder-filled pool without being hassled by the cops.

Scary, still there are a few things you can do.

PARENTING  tips To REDuce RISK taking 

Tip one:  Do read yesterday’s post about how it is best to start early to safety proof your kids. A number of the tips can still be implemented.

Tip two: Convene a family meeting, Don’t do family meetings?  No time like the present to start.   And yes, here is a plug for my eBook about How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting.  

Just can’t take that on now? Understood.  Nevertheless you need to have a meeting and talk calmly with your kid about your concerns. Use the following guidelines

You are meeting to discuss safety and nothing else.   You want the child to hear your concerns and take them seriously.  S/he will be in charge of calming your concerns.  If that is done, no further meetings will be necessary.  

Here are the suggested meeting rules. Each of you speaks in turn and speaks briefly. Three minutes is the suggested time for having your say,  no interrupting, you listen to each other, you respect each other.  

Start by stating you are worried, and give one  specific example of why your are worried.  One example, don’t ask questions, just state the example and then say “Your turn.”  Whatever the kid’s response say, “Thank you and go to your next example.” Continue this way until you have aired your concerns. End the meeting saying, “It is up to you to calm my fears, do that  or the next meeting will be about consequences.” 

Why not get on with the consequences at this meeting?  You are putting the ball in your kid’s court. If you have to impose consequences, the kid has earned them.

Tip three:  Consequences that work with teens are not easy to come up with. Grounding only seems to work when a Good Kid wants you to pull in the reins.  Other options are loss of privileges particularly allowance, cell phones, all phone privileges and finally, the right to drive. 

A consequence most family do not think of is a mental health evaluation and family counseling, but these needs to be on your list.   Moreover, if the risk taking involves illegal activities you are an accessory if you permit such behavior. In that case the result needs to be involving a lawyer and following his or her advice.

Tip four:  You need to adjust the above to the seriousness of your child’s risk taking behavior.  If you kid is getting hurt at the rate of requiring medical intervention monthly, or has been stopped for speeding more than once, you need outside help. Get it. Talk to your family doctor, the school social worker, your religious advisor, a lawyer, a therapist, or the local youth officer.

Tip five:  Get the free down load of my book When Good Kids Take Risks.  It discusses these issues more thoroughly and is  available until  midnight June 11th. See the side bar.  

STAY STRONG

More kids than not survive the teen years.  The few risk takers – adults and kids that don’t survive are the stuff of headlines.  The fact is most risk-takers learn from lesser hurts than the ones in the headlines.

 

Thank you for caring, sharing, and all the other things you do to make your corner of the world better.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

ME-TIME REMINDER

Stay strong, stay emotionally fit and  stand strong against  the madness of our workaholic society.

A do nothing to do list

Image by thelastgeneralist.blogspot.com

I would never be happy with nothing to do, but that is me. For many the best me-time might well be lying in a hammock or on some sweet-smelling grass looking up a tree and just being.  I often did that as a child, but with a book by my side when restless me wanted to do something.

EMOTIONAL FITNESS TIP

My usual Friday reminder  to give me-time, family and friend time, laugh and play time first  place on your do to list.  Run away from most other must do stuff. Moreover, make at least one day free from money and electronic connections. Doing so allows you to focus more on what matters as well as doing a bit to help Mother Nature stay cool.

MY NEWS

This week’s free book  is about when Good Kids Run Away. Many do and most return home safely, sadly some do not.

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It can be read on a Kindle or a computer using Amazon’s free reading apps. This book is based on a chapter from my  book ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things – A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘.

If you know someone who might be helped my book, care and share.

Next weekend, Twelve Easy Emotional Exercises To Tame Mad, Bad, and Sad Feelings will be free.  For a sample go here:

The fourth book in my Emotional Fitness Series, Know Your Feelings – Become a Feeling Detective, An Emotional Fitness Training® Program will be released on Amazon this week.  Watch for  my mini book launch of this newest one on my Personal Facebook Page.

STAY STRONG

Remember taking care of you strengthens you to take care of others. Be kind and caring for others matters and also strengthens you.

For all you do, thank you.

Katherine