Screwing Me Up

Many years ago I read an article that said the best parent was not the one who was perfect and never made any mistakes. Instead, it said the best parent was one who made lots of mistakes, but also admitted their mistakes and made restitution. This is because in the process they taught their children that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you are accountable for your actions and make amends when your actions have a negative impact on others.

After reading that article, I made one significant change in the way I related to my children—I gave them the power to put me on a timeout bench whenever I did or said something they thought was not okay.

One evening when I was very tired and trying to get dinner on the table, I said something to my son, who was about three-and-a-half at the time, in a derogatory tone of voice. Out of his mouth came the words, “I think you need to stop doing what you are doing and go sit on the timeout bench.” His voice was kind, gentle, and very clear.

I immediately turned off the stove, walked over to the time-out bench, and sat down. Then my sweet son came and sat next to me and said, “I will keep you company so you won’t feel lonely or bad about what you did.” In that moment, I realized that even with my long list of mistakes as a parent—he was completely intact.

We sat there for a few minutes and then he asked me if I was ready to go back to fixing dinner. I smiled and said, “Yes!” Carrying the memory of that day has helped me forgive myself for my mistakes, be accountable for my actions, and to always make restitution.

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