“He’s NOT our dad! He’s a drunk and a coward, and he is not MY father!”
Those were the words said by a character named Zach to his brother in a new movie called Run The Race. Their mother had died and the father was too heartbroken to care for his sons; instead, he turned to alcohol. The father eventually attempts to mend the relationship, but, as you can imagine, the son’s hurt feelings keep him from giving his father another chance. In that situation, what would you do to win your child back?
One thing is sure in parenting, we are going to hurt our kids in some way. Maybe not as bad as the situation above, but even with the best intentions, we are going to mess up. However, if we don’t deal with it in a way that brings healing, those wounds can have lasting effects. If you have hurt your kids and need to bring healing, do the following 4 things.
1. Listen to Them and Understand Why They are Hurt.
What do you want most when you are hurting? You want people to understand and empathize with you. You want your feelings validated. Although it is difficult to listen to the depths you have hurt your child, you need to hear it. You need to understand exactly how you hurt them and why. Make sure to communicate that they have every right to be hurt.
2. Own it.
After you gain the understanding of their hurt feelings, then own what you did to cause them and leave it at that. This is not a time for you give, “Yes I did that, but…” answers. You may feel like admitting a mistake loses you authority with your kids. It doesn’t. If anything, you will gain more authority to speak into their lives. Don’t feel tempted to “get back” the upper hand or have the last word. That will produce the opposite of healing.
You may feel like admitting a mistake loses you authority with your kids. It doesn’t. If anything, you will gain more authority to speak into their lives.
3. Apologize for it.
Be sincere and vulnerable. Do your best to feel their feeling. Think about the circumstances where you have felt the same way. If you don’t mean it, they will know it. Depending on the depth of their hurt feelings, you may need to apologize more than once. Be willing.
4. Right the Wrong.
Nothing says that an apology is sincere than actions to right the wrong. Changing your behavior moving forward is a great place to start. If you have been overly critical of your child, you need to focus on positive encouragement. If your words are too harsh, change your vocabulary. If you missed an important event in their life, then you need to do whatever you can to make sure you are there for the next five. This is your opportunity to show them what maturity looks like.
How do you initially react when you hurt your kids?