Life Coaching for Parents

with Torie Henderson

My daughter refuses to apologize

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Episode 73 – My daughter refuses to apologize

Question of the Day:

“We left cash for our house cleaner when we left the house. When we returned, the cash was gone and our house cleaner asked where exactly we had left it. My husband was certain he’d left it there and was quite distraught.

I was trying to keep calm knowing that it would turn up. We often misplace things when in a hurry. The house cleaners felt terrible thinking we didn’t believe them. We undoubtedly did believe them but my husband was dumbfounded. We asked our kids and they said they hadn’t seen it.

After they left, my 7 yo daughter came to me and asked if she could tell me something without me saying anything. She took me to her room to her piggy bank. She had put the money in there. I immediately texted to let them know that we’d found the money. They were so relieved and of course asked, where did you find it?

I hesitated to respond. 

On the one hand I could reply that we found it in our daughters room and leave it open as to how it got there. The other option is that I feel that a good parent would require an apology from our daughter. She wants us to just tell them that she found it in her room. She loves our house cleaners and seems to be really ashamed and afraid of telling them the truth. 

While I understand her response, I want her to know we believe in her courage and kindness.

She goes on and on about having a dark side and how she’s different from us (she’s human is how I see this). I’ve assured her that we all have a dark side and that she’s a good person. We talked about this for so long today that I had to take a break to get some clarity.

We want her to write a letter of apology. I wrote a draft for her and she refused. In hopes that it would immediately get her to write the letter, I told her she couldn’t continue to play with two things she values until the letter was written. Maybe I call them with her and apologize for her? Model how it would be done. Be tender and supportive of her being afraid?

I guess the part where I’m really stuck is that when I tried to hold her to a high standard of our family values it turned into a battle of wills. I don’t want that. I want to be supportive of her in this journey. Her idea is to just say she found it in her room. Is that supporting her in her journey or is it supporting half truths?”

Staci

Parent Educator answer:

It’s so easy for Supermoms to go down a rabbit hole of “trying to do the right thing”. Let’s start with separating out the circumstances from your thoughts about the circumstances. The facts are, that your daughter saw money on the counter, put it in her piggy bank, and then showed it to you. You returned the money to the owner. This is a neutral circumstance, no cause for alarm, and MANY parents could find themselves in. Every child experiments with stealing and lying at some point. 

You didn’t really need to do anything else because your daughter felt remorse and confessed. Her own emotions guided her to do the right thing. You could have said, “I’m so glad your instincts led you to do the right thing.” or “Thank you for showing me where the money is. Your dad will be so happy to know it is safe.” 

It is very common for parents to overreact when it comes to stealing and lying about it. When it’s OUR CHILD we feel deeply responsible for ensuring they turn into good citizens. We think “A good parent would not let her child act this way” or “It’s my job to teach her good values”.

It sounds like what bothered you is three things:

  1. Your daughter didn’t confess when her Dad asked if she had seen it.
  2. You feel uncertain about what to say to the housecleaners.
  3. Your daughter would not comply with your apology idea and attempts to make it right. 

The parent educator answer to these three “problems” is…..so what? 

Your daughter didn’t confess when her Dad asked about the money? “Sounds normal.” 

You feel uncertain about what to say to the housecleaners. “Yeah, I could see that”

Your daughter would not comply with your apology ideas. “Ok”

 

What gets in your way from recognizing that all is well? Thinking you don’t already have the answers. 

What if you are simply a good parent, raising a good kid, who made a mistake and owned up to it?

 

Life Coaching answer: 

It is SO normal for Supermoms to think the thought, “This is a problem that I need to fix.” every time our child does something “wrong”. We can view any problem our child has, and make it mean something about OURSELVES. “I need to prevent this from happening again.” “This is my problem to solve.” or “If I was a good mom, this wouldn’t have happened.” When we take a typical kid problem and make it about US, it blocks our ability to resolve it. Trying to fix something that isn’t ours to fix will get you into a spin cycle of overthinking and worry.  

When we catch ourselves mentally spinning trying to find the “right” answer and do the “right” thing, we feel uncertain. This uncertainty is unbearable because we think there is a RIGHT answer and we need to fix it.

Our parents will have different opinions than our husbands. A parenting book will disagree with an article we read online. This podcast will disagree with your girlfriends. When we look to outside experts for the “right” answer, it’s easy to spin in circles and not get the resolution we are looking for. 

The thoughts you wrote that got in your way from trusting your gut and connecting with your daughter were:

I feel that a good parent would require an apology from their daughter.

I want her to know we believe in her courage and kindness.

If you could change these thoughts to: “I already am a good parent” and “I already believe in her courage and kindness” then the answers of what to say and do in this situation would come naturally and confidently. 

When you know you are a good parent and you believe in your daughter’s kindness and courage, you don’t need to look outside yourself for answers. You will just notice the courage and kindness in coming forward and showing you her piggy bank. You will see how lovely and reassuring you were when you said, “We all are humans with a dark side, and you are already a good person.” 

 

Supermom Kryptonite Trying to solve a problem that isn’t yours to solve. 

 

How does one know if they are trying to fix an issue that doesn’t belong to them? 

They suffer. Any type of suffering: overthinking, worrying, frustration, mental spinning is a sign that we are in somebody else’s business. When we try to make our children think and feel a certain way, it will always feel frustrating because we aren’t minding our own business. Our kids get to determine what they think and feel. When we try to control something we have no control over, we suffer.  

It’s totally normal for a mom to feel embarrassed when their child makes a mistake but it isn’t necessary. Moms can feel confident even while their kids feel ashamed or guilty. 

When parents feel embarrassed about their CHILD’s mistake, attempts to remedy the situation will be about the parents and will not work. 

Staci’s daughter felt ashamed and remorseful and remedied the situation all on her own. Parents can SUGGEST writing a letter of apology but it’s the child’s business whether she writes it or not. When you find yourself in a battle of wills, you are definitely trying to solve a problem that isn’t yours to fix. 

Most new moms quickly figure out that no matter how much they try, they cannot make their kids eat, sleep, or poop. As kids get older, moms also learn that they cannot choose what their kids think, feel, or do. You can make suggestions, you can motivate by taking away prized possessions, you can encourage, but if you find yourself suffering over their decision, let it go and focus on what is your problem to fix. You get to control YOUR thoughts, YOUR feelings and YOUR actions. 

 

 

Supermom Power Boost – Believing you are already good enough. 

I used to think that worrying made me a good parent. If I read and researched the “right” things to do, I would figure out the formula for successful parenting. Coming from a place of “I’m not doing it right” kept me constantly overparenting and overthinking, always looking for the opportunity to be better. 

Now I can see that believing I already am good enough helps me be a better parent. When I trust my judgement, see my kids as well rounded, perfectly imperfect beings, I relax. I trust my gut. I listen to my inner wisdom. I watch my kids and trust them to solve their own problems. 

But don’t take my word for it, try it out on yourself. Think the thoughts: “I am a good enough mother. There is nothing more I need to learn or do. My kids are loved and lovable, perfectly imperfect little humans, and I am blessed to be their perfectly imperfect mother.”

When you think and believe that thought, how do you feel? For most Supermoms, they might notice a feeling of relief, relaxation, or peace. 

When you feel relaxed and peaceful, how do you parent? What kinds of words are you likely to say? How do you treat your kids? How do you treat yourself? Chances are, you will be kind, compassionate, forgiving, and understanding. Excellent qualities to model for your kids. 

Try believing you are good enough as you are and see if it doesn’t improve the way you feel and act around your children.

Quote of the Day:

“If your child fails at something merely express your confidence in their ability to handle the consequences. If they behave irresponsibly, merely point out the consequences to themselves and others, and again express your trust that they will learn. As soon as possible give them another opportunity to be appropriately responsible. Do not slip into the downward spiral of blame, shame, and control. It doesn’t work.”

William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

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