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My Parents were Never Heroes

My parents were always real people to me. Sure, I had the standard argument in our elementary school cafeteria that, in fact, my Dad was the strongest Dad of them all and, admittedly, it may have ended with me announcing, “My Daddy can beat up your Daddy.” I thought the world of my parents, as do many other children. I thought (pretty much still think) that my Mom knows everything and has all the answers and that my Dad is the bravest, strongest man that will always protect me no matter what, even if we're apart. I truly felt, like many other children with amazing parents, that my parents were the best people in the world.

There was always something unique though, something I guess I never knew was special until I became a parent myself: my parents said, "Sorry." They made a conscious effort to apologize to me and my siblings when they made a mistake. I have many memories of sitting on the stairs with my mother gently asking for my forgiveness. There was no agenda in her words. I felt no manipulation or pressure to accept her apology, and I never hesitated to give my forgiveness.

Looking at these honest exchanges I really see the incredible gift I was given without even realizing this was not necessarily a commonplace exchange between parents and children. What would they apologize for? We all have parents and many of us are parents now ourselves; aren’t there times you overreact, or become impatient, or do any of those normal things humans tend to do in frustration? Yes, my parents worked hard for a peaceful home and chose not to physically discipline us, but they also made mistakes. A child stating that her parents  make mistakes might literally make some people’s skin crawl. There is an unspoken understanding in so many families that for some reason even when a parent is wrong, a parent is right--well that’s just wrong. Sometimes this even extends from one parent to another, lumping that parent in with the children, a culture of ‘don’t question Dad’ or ‘your Mother is always right.’

These widely practiced ideals that parents can’t make mistakes because they are the authority truly don’t benefit a parent or child. Parents can make mistakes, do make mistakes, and, best of all, can ask their children for forgiveness. I will be as bold as to guarantee that a parent that can say sorry to their child will not lose their child's respect, but rather increase it. That’s right; you as a parent don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent. I grew up knowing that my parents were capable of failure, that they could be wrong. I knew they were not invincible to what life brings, but like anyone, could be broken by it. There are many long-term benefits I can attribute to having parents who apologized to me. One of the most influential has been that I learned what unconditional love truly was. They modeled for me that I could receive their unconditional love by allowing me to give it to them, themselves, when they weren't at their best.

The result of their authentic parenting approach was that I told them everything. I couldn’t wait to tell them all about me. I would sit on those stairs and tell them my good, my bad, and my ugly. I cried. I asked for their forgiveness. And I got through my own mistakes and failures over and over again. I was never scared to tell my parents anything, and instead longed to hear their input on whatever was going on at the time. I was a child who forgave my mother for yelling at me and then asked her to forgive me for lying and received her forgiveness in return. I was a teenager who forgave my mother for telling the mother of the boy I liked that I thought he was cute (thanks for that, Mom) and a teenager who asked for her advice when I felt rejected. I was an adult who forgave my Dad when he said he wouldn’t bend to my will on something I disagreed with my Mom on and then later asked his forgiveness for becoming busy in my adult life and neglecting our relationship. I have had an easy transition into becoming a parent who can ask my daughter for forgiveness (granted she is only two) but she has heard my ‘sorry’ and the feeling of her hug after I speak those soft words to her reminds me of the great love I received as a child.

We will make mistakes as parents. We will hurt our children’s feelings and our feelings will be hurt by our children. That’s because we are human. I can accept my flaws, and I have confidence that my daughter will be able to accept both hers and mine, too. Beyond that, I feel certain I will also bestow self-confidence, pride, and humility in my daughter by asking her forgiveness when I make mistakes. You don’t have to be a hero to your kids; you just have to be you.

About the Author
Rebekah Moore
Author: Rebekah Moore
Rebekah Moore is a work-from-home Mother of one adorable toddler. She has a background in mental health counseling and has worked to repair broken homes. Rebekah and her husband hope to provide a caring, supportive, and nurturing environment to raise their children. With this goal Rebekah has chosen to follow a Holistic approach to parenting and home life.

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