WT 059: How Do I Apologize to My Kids?

Every mom loses their cool sometime. We snap at our kids and then we feel the guilt set in almost immediately. How do we show our kids, through action, how to own up to our mess ups and apologize to them? Karen gives her advice on today's episode.

Question 1: Karen, what did you do when you had a moment where you snapped on your kids? Mine happened in the car recently. The kids were screaming and I lost my cool yelled at them like I’ve never yelled before. My kids seemed totally scared but were fine, and very well behaved, when we got home. I called my husband and cried because I felt so bad. How do I apologize to my kids when they know mommy lost her cool?

Karen’s Answer: I love this question, when this mom writes like was a one time offense. :) Um, yes! I’ve lost my cool numerous times, I hate to admit, but it’s true. Yes, I apologized, or tried to each time . I experienced it numerous times, and each time, I would go back and apologize. I think that is so important to show your children, when you mess up you take ownership of what you did wrong. It is also a good exercise in being humble. Get into the habit of taking responsibility for all your actions. Don’t just say, “I’m sorry”, but tell them why you are sorry. Ask for your child’s forgiveness then give them a big hug.

Question 2:  When my husband hits a breaking point and yells at our kids, how am I supposed to react in a loving way without undermining him? I am already praying for him, but what do I actually do in the moment? Sometimes I feel his anger is out of proportion to what happened.

Karen’s Answer: You undermine him when you correct him in front of the children.  But, it's not undermining if you talk to him about it behind closed doors as husband and wife. Give him the benefit of the doubt, he might see something that you don't. Ask him what was the reason behind such a large reaction.  Don’t lecture him, just ask him why.  Most of the time husbands don’t even realize why they are acting the way they are, but when we ask them it forces them to think about their actions.   Keep conversations open with your husband and also keep your husband “aware” of what is going on in the family so he is not caught off guard.

Question 3: Hoping to feel better about Mommy guilt. Do you have any mantras that I can say in my head when I have had enough and end up yelling at my kids?

Karen’s Answer: Most of the time the reason we start yelling is because we have given our children too many chances.  For instance, we say, “stop that”, “stop that”, “stop that”, “stop that” and then on the fifth time we scream “STOP THAT!!!” My advice is to say what you want to say, then follow it up with consequences if they don’t obey. Children are like roller coasters.  Think of going up the first big hill in parenting, we are focused on our goal and consistent, the children learn and are good, then you get to the top of the hill and we as moms slack off, the car starts down the hill faster and faster, and we as moms are screaming to get them to mind again, so we clamp down, and start the trek up another hill.  That cycle goes on throughout the journey.  I tried to manage the roller coaster, and become consistent all the time, and not ease up too much because I didn’t want the climb again. But, if you are experiencing this, then have the conversation with your child of, “There’s a new sheriff in town, and so there are new rules.” Keep short accounts with your children, meaning, ask them 1 time and then give consequences.

Question 4: My marriage ended last year and I still feel so much guilt about my kids not having the family dynamic that I wanted them to have. My biggest fear is that they will grow up and be angry that my ex-husband and I didn’t work it out. How do I tell them that I am so sorry they have to go through this but it was for the best?

Karen’s Answer: I think, first off, don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow in fearing the “what if”.  There will be multiple conversations with your children about your divorce and your choice in the future. Save your concern until you need to have those conversations. In the meantime ask God to give you wisdom, everyday to deal with what comes your way. God will give you what you need, when you need it.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

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