Repair Isn’t Only for the Kitchen Sink

A few weeks ago my family and I went on a family vacation.  We had a great time and I remembered a valuable lesson.  Imagine this…the first day was a travel day.  We usually leave in the morning but this time we decided to leave in the evening.  That meant my son went to school in the morning and skipped naptime in the afternoon.  That also meant I ran around all day like the Energizer Bunny and got little sleep the night before!  By the time we landed in New Jersey, we were all tired and exhausted.  My son was really testing limits and I was losing my patience.  

So we are sitting at Ruby Tuesday’s eating dinner at 10pm when my son starts crying because of the lack of wi-fi for his tablet.  This is after he wanted to color and then did not want to color; after he wanted hamburgers and then did not want hamburgers.  When the crying started, I had it.  I did not yell but I snapped at him.  My son started crying more.  After a few minutes I regained composure and asked him, “Why are you crying?”  He immediately said “I’m sad because you are mad at me.”  My heart sank!  I never wanted to hear my son say I had hurt his feelings.  But guess what…it happens.  No parent is perfect, that includes me.  

I have one word for you to remember: repair.  As parents we will unintentionally hurt the feelings of our children.  It is inevitable.  When we do though, it is so important to make repair.  Making repair looks like this: owning your behaviors, apologizing for your behaviors and checking in to see what your child needs to feel connected again.  Making repair does not look like this: explaining or giving reasons for your behaviors.

So I pulled my son close and I apologized.  He stopped crying and even ate part of his hamburger.  We were okay again.  I will never be a perfect parent.  I will never forget his words.  I will never forget the importance of repair.  

Jessica Schroeder