The other day, my younger daughter brought home a math paper that didn’t have a passing grade on it. It was pretty out of character for her as she’s usually pretty good in math. When I asked her about it, the conversation went something like this.
“I don’t think you understand this concept. Please bring your math book home tomorrow, and we’ll work on it over the weekend.”
“I understand how to do that stuff.”
“The grade on this paper says you don’t.”
“But I do.”
“I have evidence in my hand that you don’t.”
“I don’t need help. I understand it.”
This particular conversation continued way longer than it should have. My husband walked in the door in the middle of it, and I’m sure was super impressed with my ability to carry on a prolonged conversation with an irrational 10-year-old. By the time I finally got smart and simply told her we were done talking about it, she was in tears and I was ready to pull out my hair.
The math book did come home the next day, and we looked at the material. Unfortunately it was math that required some special tiles that they only had at school. I stuck a note to her teacher asking her teacher to go over the material with her again since she clearly didn’t understand it.
When my daughter got home that day from school, I asked her if her teacher had explained the math to her. My daughter looked at me and simply said, “It wasn’t my paper.” Someone else’s paper had gotten put in her mailbox. She had gotten a 100 percent on that particular paper.
As my younger daughter was telling her father this story at the dinner table, my older daughter looked at me, and said, “I think you owe her an apology.”
And I did. I was wrong. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was 100 percent in the wrong. And I did owe her an apology.
As parents, it’s hard to be wrong. It’s hard to admit that we blew it. It’s hard to tell our kids we’re sorry when we lose our temper or jump to the wrong conclusion. How we handle being wrong, though, teaches our kids more about humility and how to restore a relationship than any object lesson or discussion we can have with them. Our kids are watching how we act. They’re learning how to handle situations from watching us.
When we’re wrong, especially when we’re wrong about something that involves our kids, we have to admit it. We have to give our kids a picture of humility and apology. We have to show them that we respect them enough to apologize to them. We have to give them an example to follow.
Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” When we’re wrong, and we admit it to our kids, we show them a picture of humility. Not only do we gain wisdom from situations where we have to admit that we’re wrong, our kids gain wisdom as well. They learn what humility looks like. They learn that it’s OK to be wrong. They learn that it’s important to apologize for any hurt they have caused.
So, don’t be afraid to admit to your kids when you’re wrong. Don’t be afraid to apologize. It doesn’t make you a weak person. It doesn’t weaken your authority as a parent. It simply makes you human and gives you an opportunity to give your kids an example of humility.