This past week something transpired in our home that helped me realize how our words and actions can have devastating impact on our kids for years to come. Keep in mind I have four kids who have grown up under our roof who are now 20-Somethings.
Most people would have described us as a loving Christian family who were very involved in our kids’ lives. If you look at our family today, you’d probably say the same thing. Our kids visit often and it is obvious that we have deep connection.
But last week — those great parenting feelings morphed into a “what was I thinking” moment.
Hang with me here because this is really important as our tweens and teens get older. They will get under our skin. They will do things that will set us off. And we will hear things that will send us spiraling into a moment of fear and that’s when we will react.
Our daughter shared a memory with me about how her dad had “come unglued” at something he thought her younger brother had done. As she was recalling the memory almost 10 years later, I could visibly see the emotion and accusation in her voice. The anger and resentment was as if the event had just happened–and the event didn’t even happen to her–it was her brother.
You need to understand that this one event was not my husband’s typical response to our kids. He’s one of the most engaged dads on the planet and he tends to be the peacemaker in the family so this was an out-of-the-box rare moment for him as the kids were growing up. I’m guessing that this is why the memory was so overwhelming to our daughter. It didn’t fit with how she viewed her dad.
Seeing how upset she was at the memory, I did the only thing I knew to do–I apologized for my husband’s behavior from a decade ago. I told her that it must have seemed scary to her. And I told her I was sorry that I had not tried to diffuse the situation at the time. And then I admitted that my husband and I had not been perfect parents and that I hoped she would forgive us for what happened.
And it was amazing to watch the transformation in our daughter. A sense of calm seemed to come over her. It was as if the wrong had now been righted as she viewed the story through her now adult eyes.
Having seen how the event triggered in her, I was curious as to whether or not her younger brother remembered the incident–after all, it had happened to him. Sitting on the back patio I described the conversation with his sister. Within seconds the emotion exploded within him. Yes, he had forgotten the situation all those years ago, but when reminded of the story, his anger returned full force. “Mom, I swear I didn’t do what he accused me of! Why did he do that?”
For the second time, I needed to apologize for my husband’s behavior 10 years ago. I admitted the injustice in the situation. I assured him I didn’t know what had come over his dad in the moment. I reminded him that one event doesn’t define a man. And I made sure that he recognized that his dad and I loved him dearly.
But the conversations didn’t stop there.
That evening I asked Dave if he recalled the incident and I suggested that he needed to apologize to both kids. Always true to his word, I came home yesterday afternoon to hear him seeking forgiveness from our son for his reaction 10 years ago. The reconciliation between the two was heartfelt. The wound that I had discovered by bringing up the subject would now have a chance to properly heal.
As parents we will make mistakes and some of those mistakes will be carried into the future for our kids even though for us they have been long forgotten.
But we have a God who encourages us to reconcile and right our wrongs.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
As parents we have opportunity to apologize and bring healing to those emotional triggers for our kids if we will choose to walk into the conversations providing an opportunity for them to spew their emotion and us to offer a genuine apology.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Dare you to walk into the conversation of apology when your kids bring up painful memories of the past. Stand in the gap for your spouse or someone else to bring healing to their emotional wounds so your kids will be better equipped to mature in healthy ways.
“Let go…and let God”,
Did you know that we’ve started a new Facebook eCourse just for Moms of tweens and teens? I hope you will join me there. It is an opportunity to get practical parenting advice and interact with other moms. We’ll go through With All Due Respect together as we encourage you, pray with you, share successes, and hardships. You’ll create relationship with other moms including those who are at least 10 years ahead of you in the parenting process. And right now it is 50% off as we transition to the new platform. Dare you to join us!