Mistakes happen every day, and everyone makes them. I have made more than my share in all aspects of life. I do my best to learn from my mistakes, especially when given an extra chance. In parenting, though, mistakes can have effects of guilt and unintended consequences such as lost lessons. In each age level of my son’s life, I have made these mistakes, but now I know how to handle them better should similar circumstances occur.
One night during my son’s transition from infant to toddler, he would not sit down in the bath tub. We could not understand why because he usually saw bath time as play time; he loved playing with the bathtub toys and crayons that allowed him to draw on the wall while we bathed him. This time, though, he fought us, screamed, and tried everything he could to escape. We forced him in and held him down to give bathe him, but he kept right on fighting and screaming. We finished the bath against his will. When we pulled him out to dry him off and dress him, we saw the reason. He had a diaper rash, and the soapy water stung him. We both felt absolutely awful at that time. It now seems unimportant, but we learned to examine him carefully when he refuses something that he normally likes. Of course, he can now tell us what bothers him, but he could not at that time.
Said a bad word – not!
A few years later while we visited family, our son and my wife started talking about kids from school as I sat nearby not exactly paying particular attention. During the conversation, he said the work “freak” in describing what one kid said about another. I thought he said a similar-sounding swear word, so I chewed him out. I spent years overcoming my previously bad language, and I do not want him falling into the habit. My wife tried to stop calm me down at that moment, but I would not listen and continued. When I finished, my wife told me exactly what he said. I had nothing else to say then except an apology, and I felt like crawling under that proverbial rock.
Too harsh when not eating on a vacation
While on a trip to Gatlinburg just after school let out for summer, I failed again. Our then seven-year-old son had a stretch of a few weeks in which he would not eat. He had not told us that he gagged while eating lunch at school just before school ended. The gagging made him afraid to eat, but we had no idea. Because he would not eat, we both worried about his nourishment. We went out for dinner one night during the trip, and I could not bear to see him sit there again ignoring a plate full of his favorite foods. I grew upset, but I did not yell; I remembered from the previous example. However, I did say that because he would not eat, then we would not do his activities for the rest of the trip until he stopped wasting my money. Again, I had not taken time to find out the reason for his behavior. My wife talked to him privately when we got back to the resort that night, and he told her about the near choking. We then worked his way through the problem, and all became well.
Learning from mistakes
I have made other mistakes as a parent, and I know that I will make more as my son becomes a teen and young adult. I have learned from my mistakes. I now understand that our son has reasons for acting in certain ways, especially when out of the ordinary. I know to learn all the information I can before reacting to a particular behavior. As I get older and see me son grow, I remember how well my parents handled matters with all six of their boys. I now model my parenting decisions after theirs. I learned from the best. I have made tremendous improvements in learning to parent, and I would not trade the job for anything.
More from this contributor:
Teaching Our Son About Alcohol
Making Sure Our Son Chooses Good Friends
Letting Our Son Help Make Some Family Decisions