Z and I just spent the best day together, but it didn’t start out that way.
Our day actually started out REALLY bad – and I just kept making it worse. Today was a total parenting fail for me.
Basically, I was just not listening to her.
Z was telling me something and I kept dismissing her, ignoring her, talking over her, getting louder than her, telling her she was wrong in 99 different ways and just basically being a total JERK!
I was the parent, so I was right – period. She’s “just a kid” right? Parents know best.
Except it turns out… drumroll, please… Z was RIGHT all along. I was WRONG.
And so I folded myself in half apologizing, begging her forgiveness and telling her how right she was and how wrong I was. We both ended up laughing. She forgave me. And it resulted in us having an amazing day together and feeling really close and connected.
But I just keep thinking… what if? What if I parented the old-fashioned way and just NEVER listened or admitted I was wrong? What if I didn’t apologize with the same volume and intensity that I had wronged her with? What if I had permanently damaged our relationship today through my wrong-headedness?
At any moment, any of us can be wrong. Especially me.
I learned something really important today. Instead of leaning into how right I thought I was, I finally stopped and leaned into curiosity. I finally remembered that our connection is way more important than being right about something.
Once I paused and took a step back to reflect, I realized that what really, truly mattered was not who was right and who was wrong. No, the truly important thing was figuring out how we are so disconnected on this issue.
I mused… what if she’s right? What if I’m wrong? And that’s when I figured out a way to get an expert third party to weigh in with their opinion.
Once I did that, the expert proved conclusively that Z was right all along. And if I’m being honest, I had been absolutely convinced the expert would weigh in my favor.
But here’s the thing. Why did it take an expert – another adult – to get me to see that I was wrong? All the expert did was tell me what Z had been saying all along.
Why couldn’t I just trust and believe that Z was right in the first place? She is the author of her own experience. We have got to believe kids about their lived experiences.
I really need to remember this and do better. Our kiddos deserve to be heard, listened to and respected. If we as parents want to have close and connected relationships with our young people – and to have open and honest two-way communication – we have to do better at listening to them.
I vow to do better!