Coulter Video, February 10, 2007
When's the last time you apologized to one of your kids? Of
course, maybe you don't ever do anything that requires an
If so, you are a very rare person.
I believe most of us can recall times when we've assumed
something about our kids that turned out not to be the case.
Other times, we may have understood perfectly well, but got
frustrated and engaged in a bit of "scolding overkill."
I apologized to my adult son the other day after I jumped to a
conclusion and assumed that he'd done something he hadn't.
I think there may be a tendency not to apologize to our kids
(especially to younger children) as often as we should. Maybe we
fear that admitting we did something wrong will undermine our
authority. But kids can often sense when something's unfair. Do
you respect someone more for not admitting a mistake, or for
It's never pleasant to think about our sons and daughters
discovering we're not perfect, but this is just not under our
control. It's something kids figure out sooner or later. And how
they think of us the rest of their lives depends, in part, on
how they see us dealing with our imperfections.
Years ago, after I'd been working in public relations at a large
corporation for quite a while, I asked an intern to proofread a
news release I'd written. She gave it back to me without
catching a typographical error I'd made. When I caught the
mistake myself and pointed it out to her, she said she hadn't
checked the document closely because I'd written it. She figured
that with my level of skill and experience, her proofreading was
just a formality. I had to gently disabuse her of the idea that
people who have skills and experience don't make mistakes. In
fact, the more experience you have, the more you learn to create
safeguards to catch inevitable mistakes before they become major
Given that I'm not perfect, I want my kids to see me as someone
who's always trying to do the right thing. That includes owning
up to blunders when I realize I've made them.
Sometimes, we can catch ourselves doing something we know is
counter productive, but it's hard to stop. Like trying to change
our kids' behaviors after an infraction by lecturing them at
length and trying to make them feel really, really sorry.
How many of us have seen that loading on the guilt isn't
effective in changing our kids' behaviors, but find it hard to
hold back when we're caught up in the moment? I can claim to
have gotten better at restraining myself, but it usually
requires a conscious effort. Left to its own devices, my head
often wants to administer a devastating dose of parental logic
when a few calm words will suffice.
I'm a lot better than I used to be, but I still can go too far.
When I do, or when I make some other family faux pas, I try and
make it a point to apologize.
Unselfishly, this is a lot better for my kids in daily life.
Selfishly, in the long run, this means they're more likely to
think of me as a fair guy as they become adults. Not a perfect
guy, but that was never really an option.
We won't discuss the number of times this means I have to
apologize to my kids, my wife, and others.
I'm not that good at math.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter produces videos that
support people with Asperger Syndrome, autism and other special
needs. He is currently producing two programs for brothers and
sisters of kids with autism and Asperger Syndrome, which are
scheduled to be released in April, 2007. You can find more
articles on his website at
Copyright 2007 Dan Coulter All Rights Reserved. Used by
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