While parenting is largely synonymous with teaching, we often wonder if anything is getting through. There is SO MUCH to teach, but is any of it sinking in? Do the kids even hear me? How can I possibly teach them everything they’re supposed to know and be and do, even if they did hang on to my every word? (Side note: if your children hang on to your every word please teach me your ways. I’ll be your new best friend and I will pay you in homemade bread and undying adoration.)
This is all the more complicated when we consider the “do as I say not as I do” lessons from our own childhood. Perhaps I tell my children to only speak kindness, but if they hear the sarcastic comments I make under my breath are they learning to speak kindly or are they learning that it’s okay to be unkind sometimes? Or are they learning that I’m a hypocrite? It’s unlikely they are learning kindness just because I told them to be kind, if I am not modelling the behaviour myself.
I want my children to develop tenacity. Oh I hope they have strong work ethics! May they please always do their best.
I want my children to remain curious. Please let the cynicism of adolescence and the beat down of adulthood not curb their zest for learning. May they always open themselves to learning new things. May they always seek out new opportunities, and more importantly, new perspectives.
Of course I want my children to be smart, to be skilled, to love, and to share. I want so much for my children!
But I think if they can only learn one thing from me, I hope they learn to apologize. If what they learn from us is what they see us do, not what they hear us say, then my children will know that I know I am not a perfect person. I make mistakes all the time. And I apologize. I hope when my children grow up they apologize quickly and truthfully. I hope they learn to seek forgiveness, fix the error, make restitution, and move on doing better next time.
Perhaps if they can do that then the rest of the stuff will fall into place. But even if all those other things do not magically fall into place, but that they have the ability to apologize, I think maybe my kids will still be just fine.