I just found out about the James Fridman Foundation and it’s got some excellent articles:
Probably the best way to teach children how to behave is to set a good example.
However, many people believe there are limits to what kind of behaviour parents should model for their children. For instance, apologising.
And then they list some yay-sayers and nay-sayers. It’s interesting to see some people being adamant about not apologising.
I’m a dad to a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. I have always apologised to my kids when I made a mistake or was unfair, since they were born. It is very, very important, because I think it enhances my reliability in their eyes: if I say something and am wrong, if I grouch or yell, I apologise. This means that the rest of the time, when I insist on something, I stand by it.
And if they don’t agree with me, I even go so far as to ask them to present their arguments, because it’s a good way to either debunk prejudice or explain why I took this or that decision. And then, regularly, their arguing ends up in me saying they’re right and I’m wrong, and changing the decision.
Also, if I’m unfair and don’t see it (because yes, I’m only human), they are at liberty to tell me so. Again, argument, discussion, resolution – and apologies if needed.
It’s very beneficial:
- It prevents me from being too authoritative.
- It makes them and me more respectful to each other.
- We feel more “in power” because the decisions are taken democratically.
To be totally honest, sometimes I draw my “Dad card” because at the end of the day I’m the one responsible for their safety and their well-being, and this implies setting limits like bed time, when to go out or not, when to turn off the video games or the phones in the evening, etc. – Again, this is open to renegociations every once in a while as they’re growing older.
The mutual trust and honesty we have between us is priceless.
So yay, a thousand times yay, for apologising to children.