Kenan House, mom of three from Huntington Beach, California says, "I don't ever feel that I need to 'make it up' to my kids when I've had a bad moment. Instead I will sit down with them, take responsibility for my actions and apologize. These are the same expectations I have for my children when they disrespect me."
"I don't think 'beating yourself up' or having to 'make it up' to the kids is necessary. I think that by seeing me be 'real' and 'have faults' makes me just as human as they are and they respect me, just that much more, for taking ownership of my bad moment(s)."
Jaimee, mother of two from California admits that most of her "bad mommy" incidents, as she calls them, aren't directed at her kids, but at people in public. But she admits that she's not proud of the fact that her kids have witnessed this behavior. "One time I had both kids by the hand, walking in a crosswalk right out in front of my son's preschool when someone came about a foot from hitting us. I yelled out, "Really? Really? you m'er f'er, f'ing a-hole." When I got to the sidewalk and looked in front of me there were about five moms standing staring at me. I felt rather embarrassed."
"As far as making it up to the kids, I pretty much just try to be as kind as possible as often as possible and hopefully they'll mimic that rather than my other behavior. On the other hand, I don't think my kids are going to take any sh*t from anybody. I consider that a good quality in a person."
What if you've had a meltdown and don't know how to handle it with your kids? Mary O'Donohue, author of When You Say 'Thank You,' Mean It... And 11Other Lessons for Instilling Lifelong Values in Your Children has four tips:
Apologize sincerely to your child when you are truly remorseful. Blurting out an insincere “I’m sorry” only makes matters worse, and ends up setting a poor example for your child. If you need to take a moment and step away, do it. That will help you get in the right frame of mind to apologize. The bottom line is, every person — especially your child — deserves a genuine apology.
Say exactly what you are sorry for. Sometimes it’s not what you said but how you said it that really hurts your child’s feelings. So be specific. For example: “I’m sorry I snapped at you when you asked me where your shoes were, honey.” Add one more sentence to your apology that makes it even more personal, heartfelt, and respectful. So try, “I’m sorry I snapped at you when you asked where your shoes were, honey. Though I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at that moment, you deserve to be treated with respect.”
Take just a few minutes to sit down with your daughter and explain how you intend to do better next time. You can’t take back what you said, or how you said it, but you can view your mistake as an opportunity to make things better.
Forgive yourself. This is crucial. Carrying around the image of having had that “mommy moment” can color the way you interact with your child next time, and the time after that. Let it go once you’ve done everything above.
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