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June 2011

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Transformational Talk

Acknowledging Parenting Mistakes

What can you do when your adult children confront you with parenting mistakes? As children grow to adulthood, it’s normal for them to reflect on what it was like to be your child. It’s also normal for them to be upset about mistakes you’ve made. If you are lucky, they will bring their anger and hurt to you for discussion and healing. The problem is for most parents seeing the pain you’ve unwittingly caused can feel so unbearable, you may be drawn to denial or depression. The challenge is to stay present and loving to yourself as well as your children.

Here’s the tip. First, remember all parents make mistakes. Research shows ‘good enough’ parents get it right only 30% of the time. 70% of the time they’re repairing the inevitable ruptures parenting entails. Second, make a commitment to be tender with yourself. Find loving support to privately explore your anger and hurt about the circumstances which led to any mistakes.

When ready, thank your children for bringing this to your attention. Invite them to share their feelings. Listen carefully and non-defensively. Breathe. Silently tell yourself, “this is healing, this is good.” When they finish, let them know how deeply sorry you are. Let them see your anguish, your tears.

Once you’ve grieved together, be still. There’s nothing more you can do. Rest in the space you’ve created for connection and love. Wait patiently for healing. Be assured, you are a good enough parent.©

Penelope Young Andrade, LCSW Call: 858-481-5752 fax: 858-484-8374 email: