We are human so we make mistakes. That is just a fact of life, sometimes one of the more difficult facts. In my art my mistakes sometimes turn out to be my best work, happy mistakes we like to call them. In life I have occasionally had the same experience but on the whole my mistakes cause hurt, struggle and at times, feelings of shame and embarrassment. If we are wise we learn from these mistakes and from them become a better, stronger individuals.
Knowing all of this I know I should allow my children to make their own mistakes, allow them to fall on their butt and pull themselves back up. They will be stronger, wiser, and develop more character. So why is it so hard? Because I am a mother, and as such, it is my nature to protect them. I know I can’t protect them from everything, I can’t hold their hand as they walk through life. I need to believe that I have given them enough wisdom, insight, and values that they are capable of safely navigating their life. When they make a mistake I need to believe that the foundation I have provided them with is enough to support them when they have faltered.
This being said, I will not allow my children to fail when I can prevent it simply for the experience of learning from their mistakes. I did not struggle through situations simply to keep what I learned to myself. I need to share what I learned from making mistakes to help my children from making the same ones. If we do not learn from others mistakes we will never progress as a society. It would be wrong for me to allow my child to run into a busy street so they could learn that it is dangerous and they could get hurt. So it is also wrong for me to allow my children to experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex just so they can learn that their effect can be destructive. I am not so naive to believe that my teens will never touch a drop of alcohol and that they will all be virgins when they get married, but I sure as heck can make sure it is difficult for them to do it, and they will know how I feel about it. I will not be the parent at the liquor store buying the beer or parent slipping condoms into their wallets. I will be the parent who teaches them that there are laws about legal drinking ages, I will be the parent that informs them of the dangers of drinking and driving, I will be the parent who explains how life will change and opportunities lost if they become parents.
I will also be the parent that lets their children know that I understand they will screw up every now and then, and when they do, come to me and ask me for help. Don’t turn one small mistake into a bigger one that can’t be undone. How do I do this? We talk, we listen, we set boundaries, have consequences and we don’t over react. I admit my mistakes, acknowledge theirs. Most of all, I am there for them when they make their mistake, loving them just the same. I don’t clean up after them, that is their job, but I will hold their hand, wipe their tears and love them.
Remember we all make mistakes, that is how we learn. But if you don’t share what you learned from your mistakes, then they weren’t worth making. If we are to grow and become a better society, we need to learn from each other and stop making the same mistakes over and over again. Be strong, be firm, be honest and be tough, and you can help your kids from making the same mistakes you made. Most of all, be present in their lives!