I’m call myself an unschooler. A gentle and peaceful parent. An empathetic parent. And most of the time, I am. But sometimes my actions don’t quite line up with my declared parenting style. Honestly, there are times when my actions are diametrically opposed to my declared parenting style. I’m selfish. I put my own needs before the needs of my children. I yell. I get agitated by things that don’t matter. I fail to see things from my child’s perspective. My fear of imaginary things that might happen causes me to harm the relationship I have with my children. Sometimes I worry that by the time I figure out how to be a decent parent, my children will be grown.
Since achieving parental perfection seems to be out of the question, my focus is now on three main areas.
Admitting and Apologizing
What I did was wrong. I shouldn’t have behaved so poorly. I’m sorry. No reason to try to cover it up, justify it, or ignore it. We all make mistakes, and my children appreciate my willingness to be open, genuine, and vulnerable.
Learning and Improving
I am committed to constant improvement as a parent, and nothing helps more than making mistakes and learning from them. Its hard to feel down about being a bad dad when I look at how far I have come in such a short amount of time.
Remembering and Empathizing
My imperfections remind me that we are all human. Remembering this helps me to be more understanding when others exhibit imperfect behavior, and to respond appropriately.
So, I can’t teach my children how to be perfect, but I can set an example in repairing relationships, using failure as a stepping stone to success, and showing empathy and compassion to broken, hurting, imperfect people. And I think that is just as good.
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