Seven and a half years ago, when my baby was only a year and a half, I cut her nails too deeply and she started bleeding and crying. My instinct was to cry too, and I apologized to her profusely. She was oblivious to my pain, but I wanted to convey to her that I was deeply sorry for hurting her.
I cannot recall one time in my life when either of my parents apologized to me. They have both done things which they should have apologized for, yet no apology was ever offered. However, their lack of sincerity and consideration for my hurt feelings created a much larger issue.
I am now learning how to communicate hurt feelings to the people in my life. I used to allow people to get by without advocating for myself because I was not taught that my feelings mattered. Apologizing to your children will enforce their self-worth and allow them the space to talk through their feelings. Until children learn to have an inner narrative, we as their guardians are the voice they hear the most. We are the ones who encourage them to thrive or discourage them from finding their voice. We have to allow them to talk through what they are feeling, listen to them intently, and apologize when they make it clear we have caused them pain.
Parents are human beings, and we have a lifetime of baggage. Unfortunately, our own trauma, vicious cycles, and painful memories live within us even when we have children. Without self-awareness and a willingness to break destructive cycles, we perpetuate what our parents have done to us, what their parents have done to them, and so on. Most of us want our children to be much better than us; we want them to reach higher heights, and we do not want them to feel pain the same way we have. We can’t stop their hearts from breaking, but we can do our best to teach them to advocate for themselves by being their biggest advocates.
Children will show up the way we teach them to. We must be able to look them in the eyes and offer an apology when we are wrong, when we’ve hurt them and when they express themselves. Our job as parents is to equip our children with the skills which will allow them to thrive, communicate effectively and advocate for themselves. Our childhood trauma doesn’t need to be passed down. We can break generational cycles of pain by rising above our own through speaking our truth. The moment we agree to tell our own stories, forgive and make room for healing, is the moment we become the light our children need to navigate through their darkness. Healthy parents raise healthy children. The vicious cycle ends with you when you treat your children with the humanity you wish you’d received.