It was my daughter’s first day of high school. As I waited in our driveway for her to come to my car, I could feel my nervousness. This was a big milestone for her—her first day of high school! I thought back to signing her up for kindergarten. Embarrassingly, as I filled out the forms in the elementary school office, I wept. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I navigated my feelings and tried to complete the task correctly. I can only imagine what the ladies in the office were thinking. Here’s another crazy mom!
Through my sobs, I considered homeschooling so that I wouldn’t have to go through the painful first day of kindergarten drop-off. As the stream of tears continued flowing, I knew keeping my daughter home instead of enrolling her in school would be a huge disservice to her. If separation was this gut-wrenching for me, then clearly all of my children would need time away from mom to become their own independent humans. With that resolve, I finished the form and wiped the tears from my face.
And now, it was her first day of high school. As she walked from our home to my car I thought about how beautiful she was and how proud I was of her. She looked amazing with her long flowing blonde hair, her cute little red shirt, and jeans. Better still, her character exceeded her beauty as I had witnessed numerous outstanding accomplishments and countless kindnesses to others that surpassed her age. Yes, I was one proud mom.
But then, as she got in my car, her cute little red shirt slid up and I could see the sides of her body. I screamed, “Ahhhhhh! I see skin! I see skin! You look like a slut.” Not my finest mom moment, I know, but unfortunately, these were the words that came out of my mouth. Awful, unkind, hurtful words.
Instead of retracting those horrible words, I continued holding my unreasonable and inflexible position as we drove to her school. We argued about her choice of clothing all the way to school.
When I dropped her off, I said my standard, “I love you and have a great day,” but good Mom left the car at, “You look like a slut.”
What happened? How did, “she looks so beautiful and I’m so proud of her,” turn into screams of shock and awe and a fight? The answer is fear. I allowed my fears about her starting high school to take over my good sense.
I feared she would get too much attention from boys. I feared she would hang out with the wrong crowd. I feared she might turn down a dark path. I feared she would reject all of what my husband and I had tried to instill in her.
Uncontrolled fear can be very destructive.
I allowed fear to overtake my good sense. By the time I arrived back home, I felt like a big jerk and was beating myself up over being a terrible mom. Later, I apologized to my daughter and asked for her forgiveness.
What do we do when we’ve taken a wrong turn as a parent and feel trapped by our emotions? First, we need to step back and ask, “is this about me or my child? Why am I getting so worked up over this?”
At times we can allow our own dysfunction to cloud our good sense in parenting. If we are making decisions based on image, or what others think, we may want to take a step back and reevaluate. If we are making decisions based upon our own brokenness and past baggage, we need to take a step back and work on fixing ourselves.
We all have issues and unresolved baggage and it’s foolish to think we will not pass this down to our kids. This is called being human. We all have our “stuff”, but when we realize that fear or selfishness or our own dysfunction has taken over our good sense in parenting, we can work on making it right.
The thing is our children know when Mom or Dad has taken a ride on the crazy train, and if we don’t own our mistakes, it will weaken our relationship with our kids. It is hard to respect someone who won’t admit when they are wrong. It is hard to trust someone who never apologies. It is hard to open up to someone who won’t own their malarky and isn’t vulnerable themselves.
As a parent, we teach our children many things and at the top of the list is healthy relationships. Not perfect relationships, healthy relationships. A huge factor in a healthy family culture is being able to admit when we are wrong and then asking for forgiveness.
Letting our loved ones know often how much we love them and are proud of them will go a long way too—always a better choice over calling them names. ❦
About Lucille Williams
Lucille Williams is a national speaker, author, and has ministered to couples and families for over 25 years. As a pastor’s wife, Lucille dedicates her time to ministry, writing, mentoring, and providing resources on her blog at LuSays.com.
She’s the author of “The Impossible Kid: Parenting a Strong-Willed Child with Love and Grace” as well as “From Me to We” and “The Intimacy You Crave”.