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Jun
28
2013

Accidents happen

in Parenting, Random Musings

broken heart

Photo by alexbruda on www.sxc.hu

The last few days have been trying around the Richardson house. My daughter accidentally deleted a game from her iPad that hadn’t been backed up, my youngest spilled a strawberry smoothie on the carpet upstairs and then hid the oops for over  24 hours, and my middle child has grown bored with summer in general and has made some poor decisions. All of these frustrations have brought about a pretty amazing lesson opportunity: accidents happen.

Growing up in perfection

My childhood was pretty idealistic. My parents were together, and I can’t recall a time of ever seeing them argue.  They didn’t cuss or smoke or do anything that would be questionable in a small southern town. My dad was laid off from the oil field my senior year in high school, but that was from a merger and nothing that was his fault. As far as I could tell, my parents had never made a mistake in their lives.

While that lead to a strong feeling of stability, it also put them on a pedestal as far as I was concerned. I felt like (and still feel like) there is a perfection there that I can’t reach. Of course I understand now that they are only human, but in my eyes, they are as close to super-human as people can be.

A different approach

While that method of child raising worked well for me (at least I think I turned out okay), I have raised my kids a little differently. This week, my husband accidentally broke my iPad. Rather than just getting it fixed, he used that accident to express to our daughter that he totally understood how annoying an oops can be. She had deleted a game; he had broken one. Instant connection.

When my middle child lost his temper with his brother, I shared some specific times that my brother got under my skin enough that I kicked him in the face hard enough for there to be lots of blood as evidence. I had also been on the receiving end numerous times as the instigator. That’s just part of having siblings. I related to him on imperfection, and I think seeing that he wasn’t alone in his annoyance helped him.

And my youngest, well, he had to learn about his accident the hard way. He scrubbed the wall while I steam cleaned the floor. At the same time, however, I was able to tell him about a spaghetti stain on my carpet as a kid and how I hid it for weeks out of fear of repercussions.

 A fall from grace

In each of the cases, the pedestal that my kids have my husband and me on was slowly crumbled. Honestly, though, I like that. I think that when our kids can see us as the imperfect people we are, they are less fearful of their own imperfections and our potential judgement of them.


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