Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Importance of Repairing a Parent-Child Relationship

I want to get vulnerable and share a personal story that helps highlight the importance of a parent repairing the relationship with our children.

A couple of weeks ago, I did not win father of the year. My son instigated a spontaneous nerf gun war. We had only recently acquired most of our gear. What we were missing were safety glasses. During this random nerf battle, I accidentally hit my son in the eye. He collapsed to the ground, grabbing his eye. The dart that hit his eye was a velcro dart.

He struggled to open his eye for me or my wife to look at to see what was going on. After about 90 minutes of no relief we finally placed a call in to our optometrist, who was able to quickly see us.

While meeting with the optometrist he had me look at my son’s eye so as to build sympathy. When I saw the scratches on my son’s eye, they looked like claw marks, I did not feel sympathy; I felt sad, embarrassed and ashamed. I had, even though accidentally, inflicted pain on my child. We left with drops and a new pair of shades that he had to take and wear for 24-36 hours.

When we returned home, he was understandably upset about the day he had had. He was even more frustrated that he had to have drops in his eye every hour. He kept saying it was my fault. Not only was I the shooter, I had not provided adequate protection, safety glasses, for us to have fun and harm free play in. He wanted to shoot me in the eye. We agreed for him to shoot me with a round of nerf darts in the back of the head.

Still feeling like he had not “evened” the playing field he jumped on my back and wanted to wrestle his frustration out. After a while this wrestle turned into a tickle fight and we were both laughing together. A switch had changed. The anger turned to joy. The feeling of hurt and damaged trust was repaired, or repairing. He realized dad made a mistake, it was an accident, he knew dad was sorry, and was willing to trust, a little bit, again.

This struck me as the importance of repairing the relationship with our children. Whether we inflict pain intentionally or accidentally, it is up to us as the parent, to approach our child and do what is necessary to repair the relationship. They need to know it is safe to trust us. Plus learn a healthy way of correcting mistakes.

The amazing feature about eyes is that they are quick healers, and my son has resumed his 5 year old activities. But my son will remember this day for a while, however I will remember this day forever, and remember it’s importance to me.

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