As a parent and as an Empowered to Connect Trainer, one of the things I try to practice is being able to apologize when I’ve made a mistake with my kids. I make plenty, trust me.
This week, I had the opportunity to practice apology in a big way and failed pretty terribly. Let me set the stage… it’s Friday morning, my day to sleep in… at 7:30 in the morning Kristan is texting and calling that she doesn’t feel well and needs to be picked up from school. Really? Are you dying? Running a fever? Is a limb broken? No, none of these. “I feel nauseous.”
We live less than 10 minutes from the school, but to go get her meant that I had to get up, change out of my pajamas, drive to the school, walk in and see people – talk to people, interact. It was inconvenient and in my mind unnecessary. But she persisted with urgent texts such as, “Where are you?” Ugh! So, I went.
As I changed out of my PJs to put on my clothes, I also put on a really major attitude. I stormed out of the house, slammed the back door, slammed my car door and drove to the school with the soundtrack of selfishness playing loudly in my ears. By the time I got to the school I was convinced she was faking, trying to get out of a homework assignment, tired from going to bed too late, or just being really sinister and purposely waking me up on my day off.
By the time we got back to the car, I was ready to lay down the rules of checking out of school. “From now on, you will not be checked out unless the nurses station can confirm that you have a fever,” I snarled. She matched her attitude to mine and snarled back, “Really? Are you kidding me?” and the fight ensued.
On the ride home, I proceeded to remind her of her past patterns, my suspicions and how much of an inconvenience she was to me this morning. I apologized no less than four times during this conversation. I’m sorry, I’m just feeling frustrated. I’m sorry, but you know how it feels when you plan one thing and have to suddenly change to something else. I’m sorry, I’ve had a really bad week. I followed every apology with at least one reason why I was justified to feel and respond the way that I was.
It’s no surprise that when we pulled in the driveway, she jumped out slammed the door (where did she learn that from anyway) and ran straight to her room. Oh, and we pulled back into our driveway less than 30 minutes from the time I received her last anxious text.
It took me about 20 minutes to realize the ridiculousness of my attitude and go to her room to try and repair the damage. After a while of sitting with my crying, sick child.. I hear these words mumbled from her face that’s still snuggled between a stuffed Eeyore and her pillow, [quote]”What would Karyn Purvis say about this?”[/quote]
Ouch. That hit right where it needed to….. in the center of my, “I should know better…” thinking. “She would say it’s time to ask for a redo. Can I have a redo?” She graciously obliged. I responded with, “Hi Kristan, I’m sorry you’re feeling bad? What’s hurting?” And we began the conversation again, the way it should have happened in the beginning.
After ironing things out, she said, “You need to learn the rules of apologizing.” Ouch again. But, this time I made a decision to be humble and asked her to teach me. Here’s Kristan’s lesson on the rules of apology.
Rule #1 – When making an apology, be aware of your tone of voice.
Rule #2 – Don’t follow an apology with justification for your actions.
Rule #3 – When making an apology, consider whether the other person is ready to receive the apology or needs time to be alone.
I definitely think I still have some work to do. In the meantime, I’m thankful my kids are resilient and have the patience to put up with my failures.
How do you handle failures with your kids? I’m sure you’re better at it than I am!