SALT LAKE CITY — Have you ever made a mistake as a parent and actually owned up to it?
Oh, the parent pride is just one of those things that unfortunately comes with the territory. "I'm older, wiser, (sometimes bigger)" — at least, that's what we tell ourselves. It's something we must do to remain in an authority position, right? Never be wrong or admit wrongdoing?
The other day, I made a mistake. Well, actually, I made several, but one major one. And y'all are a safe place to admit my mistakes to, I figure, because this is a judgment-free space (insert winky face here).
My big mistake of the day happened when I was talking to one of my sons about a recent soccer game in which his performance had been subpar. I mean, he played fine, but his effort and heart were lacking.
As we discussed his need to get his head in the game and play with his heart, I told him that he "needed to play more like his younger brother."
Yeesh! Insert foot in mouth here.
I knew the second it came out that it was possibly the worst thing I could have said at that moment. I knew it had the potential to bring with it repercussions that could quite possibly carry into adulthood.
My husband was there, and he looked at me with that "what did you just say?" look. My son just stared into the air as the room got real quiet and the tension in said air thickened.
If there's one thing about tension, it cannot be wiggled out of by justification. Just like adding more butter to a piece of bread will not make it easier to eat, explaining my way out of what I just said would not make it easier to swallow.
Knowing this fact didn't stop me from trying, however.
"I mean, you used to play with heart when you were younger like your younger brother, but now you're not," I stuttered. "I know you have it in you because you used to. That's all I'm saying. Why are you taking offense? I didn't mean any offense. I know you're a good player, I just haven't seen you play with heart in a while."
"I just. I just. I just."
I just kept trying to explain my reasoning for saying what I said, and the hole kept getting deeper and deeper. I might as well have been trying to walk on the butter that I had used to thicken the tension in the room with because I was going nowhere.
I could see it in my son's eyes that he was rooting for me to make it right, but there was really only one way out: I had to admit I was wrong for saying what I said.
Of course, that is easier said than done.
I could have just apologized, but sometimes "I'm sorrys" are merely miniature Band-Aids on gaping wounds. In this case, had to admit my wrongdoing in such a way that would scrub out all the residual grease from my layers of buttery slabs.
I had to shrink my parent ego, and what better way to do this than to tell my son what a bonehead I was?
"You know what?" I said to my son. "Sometimes I have no idea what I'm talking about. Would you please forget that I said what I said. I was being a total bonehead."
He laughed, and said, "Yes."
That's it. That's literally all it took. In order for order to be restored, I had to step out of order and become the repentant one.
As powerless as admitting wrongdoing may seem, it is a major key to strengthening relationships. Of that, I am now certain.
Now, my son could very well improve his soccer playing experience by giving more of his heart to the game — that hasn't changed — but that's something he will learn as he goes, and as natural consequences follow.
What I learned in this day is that a humble parent will create a stronger bond with her children better than a prideful one will any day.
Have you had a time when you have had to own up to mistakes as a parent? Tell us your experience and thoughts in the comment section.