“How many of my horrible Mommy Moments will my kids actually remember when they are older?”
That was a question I got during a recent parenting interview.
It’s one of those questions that stops me in my tracks…and kind of breaks my heart. I can just feel her guilt and worry that she’s ruining her children because she has bad moments.
We all have bad parenting moments. We might yell at our kids, make a poor discipline decision, or just feel like we’re failing them.
It happens, we’re not perfect and parenting is hard.
I know you worry that you’re messing up your kids. I think every good parent does. We want to do the best we can for our kids. We want them to have a great relationship with us and to grow up to be great members of society.
So how do we ensure that our mistakes won’t cause lasting damage to our relationships with our kids?
Don’t worry, it’s easy to have a great relationship with your child. There’s a few thing you need to know first…
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“The Magic Ratio”
Every healthy relationship has a bit of negative in it. The negative bit is where change happens, where people grow together, and where the relationship gets stronger. It’s a necessary part of building a strong connection. However, too much negative can lead to a destructive, unhealthy relationship.
So how do you find that balance?
Dr. John M. Gottman, a world renowned couples therapist, did intensive research and came up with the “magic ratio” in all relationships. He discovered that it takes 5 positive acts to balance out 1 negative.
So for every time you roll your eyes, argue, or yell at your kids, it takes 5 positive actions to counteract that one negative.
These positive actions do not have to be grand acts of kindness. A smile, pat on the head, or “I love you” counts.
A simple apology after a moment of disconnect can do wonders for a relationship.
An apology can work, or it can epically fail if not done right…
1. It needs to be heartfelt
A simple “yeah, sorry about that” without really meaning it does absolutely nothing to repair the relationship. So, let your guard down and mean it. Tell your child that you feel really bad about your actions and that you want them to know that they are still loved.
2. No “but you”.
It is super easy to say “I’m sorry I got angry, but you made me angry” That apology does very little to repair the relationship because it still places all the blame on the child. Apologizing means taking responsibility for the parts you do play. Please read my post “Apologizing to Kids: Who Really Takes The Blame” for more on this.
The more honest you are with your child about your feelings, the more they learn empathy and the better your relationship will be with them.
Build Good Memories
Horrible Mommy Moments are going to happen from time to time. We are human and we aren’t perfect.
The important part is to give them other memories that are positive and just as strong. So, play with them, do fun things for them and with them.
Spend some time doing the things that they love to do. If your child likes Minecraft, then play Minecraft with your child. If your child loves trains, take them to a train museum. Instead of just handing your child a tablet to play with, sit and play with him.
Build lasting good memories.
My guess is that you are already doing this. So, don’t discount those moments, they will be the moments that your children remember.
We all are going to have horrible Mommy Moments during our parenting journey. Hey, we’re human and no one is perfect.
What you do the rest of the time is what really matters. Connect, love, and build good memories.
I have worried about hat too. I now have 2 that are grown and out of the house and I think the good has out-weighed the bad. The responsibility of raising children into contributing well adjusted adults can be overwhelming.
We call those apologies “I’m sorry but….” apologies and call each other out when any of us do it. Or I’m sorry ‘your feeling were hurt’ ‘you feel that way’ or ‘you misunderstood me’ along with all other non-sorry apologies should be banned.
One thing I have not seen mentioned is something I feel totally guilty about and I’m afraid it IS going to end up harming my relationship with my son.
You yell, you say your sorry. It may be heartfelt. But after awhile, if you are apologizing every time you yell your apologies become meaningless! Just like a broken promise. After so many broken promises a promise means nothing anymore. Same goes for saying your sorry. You yell, you say I’m sorry. Does it still really mean anything to the child, even though it really is sincere. The child gets to where – okay you yell at me, you say your sorry. (But is really thinking is she?)
This is where the Magic Ratio comes in. We must offset the negative with the positive. Some families yell more and apologize more, but they also love more. It’s all about keeping it in ratio. If you feel like you’re yelling too much and that your relationship is off balance, try intentionally doing more loving things. My guess is that you’ll feel better connected with your children and they’ll feel better connected to you. After a while, my guess is that you’ll be yelling less and loving more.