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Stop Making Excuses for Your Child

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Are you ever tempted to make excuses for your child? I am. Here’s how it played out one time:

I took a deep breath as I opened the door. “Your son was playing basketball in the cul de sac and…” My neighbor described how my son had caused trouble with the other boys and disrespected the adult watching them (my neighbor’s wife). I looked at my child, whose face was trickling with tears of anger and embarrassment. I’m not proud to admit it, but I felt defensive.

“He hasn’t been sleeping well, so he’s really tired. And those boys have been provoking each other all week!” The excuses piled up. Having other adults point out our children’s mistakes hurts and it’s normal to want to defend them. But here are 4 reasons you should stop making excuses for your child.

It steals their opportunity for complete remorse.

When someone says, “I’m sorry, but…” it dampens the remorse by shifting some of the blame onto someone or something else. In the same way, when my child hears me make excuses for him, the full effects of having remorse for that behavior can’t be realized. Therefore, the full growth can’t either.

It maintains a false notion or facade.

We often have this notion that people are either good or bad. We fear that our children might be viewed as bad kids or that we will be viewed as bad parents. So we attempt to maintain this “good kid/good parent” facade. The truth is that people make bad choices sometimes; there are no perfect kids or perfect parents.

It can bottle up negative feelings.

Giving excuse after excuse for a child’s behavior builds anger and bitterness—and sometimes worry and exhaustion, too. The offended person may become tired of hearing excuses, causing these feelings to grow. And worry can build in your own heart as you refuse to confront your child head-on about this wrong behavior. Bottling things up never ends well, and when you stop making excuses for your child, you allow the truth to come to light.

It can produce a blame-shifting adult down the road.

You know the type of adults—the ones who can never just humbly accept the blame for a mistake; they’re always shifting it onto someone or something else. Is this the kind of adult you want your child to become?

Repeat after me: “My child’s choices are not my choices.” Now say it again. And say it every time you feel defensive or compelled to make excuses for your child. Because we forget that even though we are parenting these little humans, we cannot control their choices. And sometimes the wrong choices become our child’s best teachers.

So let go of the guilt. Let go of the embarrassment. And while it’s really hard to welcome those mistakes, I will say this: Don’t fear them. They will serve your child well in the long run.

When are you most tempted to make excuses for your child?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

What do you think people could do to make things better after making a mistake?

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