I don’t know about you, but my kids never miss an opportunity to tell me what I’ve done wrong. They remind me that I “didn’t like their haircut enough 11 years ago” (this just happened at Thanksgiving dinner) or how I “freaked out” when they left the yogurt machine running on vacation (hello! Yogurt was running down the wall and floor of the shop) or that time I “accused them unfairly of” fill-in-the-blank. Being a parent can be hard on the ego, don’t you think?
What I want to do is point out that they just might have selective attention bias or perhaps there just may be an alternate reason for their perceived injustices. You know, give them reasons why they might be wrong. But I’ve learned that being right, well, doesn’t always make things right, so in those moments when my sweet children remind me of my shortcomings, I’ve learned to simply say “I’m sorry I let you down.”
Truth be told, I feel better when I choose this path over that of debating, arguing, or explaining. I’ve done that too many times. With (almost) 3 teenagers in the house, I figure I have about 5 seconds until they tune me out.
And it’s more than simply choosing my words (although that is important). How I show up nonverbally is also, and sometimes even more, important. Am I giving them my full attention or am I multitasking? (Remember my social detox?) Am I sitting with my arms folded across my chest (which doesn’t look so inviting) or holding tension any where? This last one is key for me personally, because I do tend to hold tension in my body when I feel uncomfortable, anxious or defensive. A quick body scan, though, makes me aware and helps me relax a little.
I also try to practice these new habits every day with not just my kids but also my clients, friends and family. I’m far from perfect, of course, but each time I’m able to choose better, I get better results. What about you? How have you learned to handle those moments when someone tells you something you could’ve done better? I’d love to know your experiences. Check out my Facebook page and let me know.