Is It Right To Admit When You Are Wrong?



I must have been told by my kids a thousand times, “You never admit when you are wrong! You never say you are sorry!” 

I wonder if it is their filtered perception (which is, of course, is their reality), or is it really true. I remember feeling exactly the same at their age towards my mom and for many years after that. Come to think of it, maybe even now. Not the best feeling or memory to have of your parents. I’m not happy with this coming from my own kids.

The statement itself is so powerful because inevitably it makes you feel bad – as if we needed any more mommy guilt. At the same time, it makes you feel defensive. Whether or not you tell your kids that you are wrong or ‘sorry’ about something is only half the battle.

Many times you feel that you are wrong and sorry, however now they are calling you out on it! My natural reaction silently in my head is, “You have no idea how wrong I am, have been, and will be again and again.”

So why is it so unnatural to admit to kids that you are wrong and to apologize. It doesn’t really matter what the argument is. If you’ve realized you are wrong and are holding that back, is that not a lesson that they can learn from? Isn’t it essential that kids learn that anyone can realize they are wrong and admit it and apologize? Would this kind of admission take us, as parents, down a notch in their eyes, or would it do the opposite? Would it teach them a lesson, namely that anyone can admit their faults?

I decided to take stock in this and really listen to what comes out of my mouth and how it is received. My goal has always been like I suspect many other parents’, to be a role model, to have a robust and open relationship and to have my kids come to me when they need to talk. That goes both ways, as does apologizing. If I want them to grow up to be responsible and to know right from wrong, it starts with me. 

During this time that I have tried to address this issue. I have really focused on stopping the runaway train (the argument itself) and say, ” I hear you, I am sorry I did that-I was wrong.” Not sure it is heard the way it is meant, or whether it is swept to the back of the brain in the heat of the moment.  Maybe it will take some time, maturity, and open-mindedness from all the parties involved? I’m not sure. I haven’t felt worse about it. It has not taken a piece of me, and I don’t think it has made me less of an authority figure.

But maybe, just maybe, it lays a path and a solid foundation for a future relationship with my children, where we put away the power struggle and come to the conversation with mutual respect for each other.