Imperfect Parenting Moments = Opportunities for Connection

First, I don’t really like the idea of “good” vs “bad” parenting. I think it leads to too much judgement and shame. We’ll talk more on this later, but I don’t think you’re a “bad” parent.

I know a lot of parents identify as “bad parents”, or they identify certain parenting moments as “bad”.

I’m going to teach you how to take those “bad”, imperfect, parenting moments and use them to improve your relationship with your teen.

Once upon a time, years and years ago, I HEARD this powerful lesson in a foster parenting training:

“When you have a ‘bad’ parenting moment, but acknowledge and apologize for it, it has a more positive impact on your parent-teen relationship than if you had parented ‘perfectly’ in the first place.”

I LEARNED this lesson shortly after, while I was smack in the middle of an imperfect parenting moment where I realized that I was not BEING the dad that I wanted to be, and I apologized, and my son and I went on to have a way better relationship.

Maybe this is why my teens and I have such great relationships, because I’ve had tons of “bad” parenting moments, but I’ve also gotten really good at acknowledging those moments and apologizing for them.

The truth is, imperfect parenting moments are nothing more than opportunities for YOU to be vulnerable and to improve the connection you have with your teen.

If you’re interested, here are other podcast episodes where I talk about

#161 – How to Learn from Parenting “Fails”

#95 I’m Not Perfect, Now What?

#081 From tough to powerful parenting moments

Opportunities vs Obstacles

First off, let me help you get out of any victim mentality.

Victims see “bad” or “imperfect” parenting moments as the problem or the obstacle.

If you’re blaming your teen, (or your spouse) you’re in the victim mentality, and you’re positioning the other person as the villain.

Are you making excuses for yourself, being critical, or catastrophizing? You’re in the victim mentality.

This might be a shock, but, these “bad” or “imperfect” parenting moments are nothing more than OPORTUNITIES for you!

Here are some possible opportunities in “bad” or “imperfect” parenting moments:

  • Model Imperfection
  • Model an Apology
  • Seek to Understand Yourself
  • Ask for Forgiveness

When you shift your mentality, and start seeing the opportunities all over the place for improving your relationship with your teen.

How to Make Reparations

It can be difficult to embrace a “bad” or “imperfect” parenting moments as an opportunity for connection, especially in the moment. So let me share a few ideas to help make things easier.

#1 Wait a Day

One of the cool things about most of the teens that I know, is they are pretty willing to forgive.

In the heat of the moment, you might not be ready to apologize, and your teen might not be ready for an apology.

A day tends to let things simmer down, and it gives both of you a slightly different perspective. It get’s you out of your emotions and into your intentional mind.

With one of my teens, in a time when we were struggling to connect, I made it a point to review the previous day and intentionally find things the following day to “repair” with him. It was POWERFUL!

Sometimes it would look like and apology, others just simple acts of kindness, and sometimes a brief conversation. It didn’t matter what it looked like, it greatly improved our relationship, and it was all based on an idea of waiting a day, and then working to repair our relationship.

Eventually, when I didn’t have things to repair from the previous day, I started complimenting little things that I had noticed from the previous day, or often even from that very day.

#2 Be Vulnerable

This one is powerful, and yet a lot of parents are reluctant to do it.

Be vulnerable.

A mom just told me about an experience where she had an “imperfect” parenting moment and she apologized to her son. She told him something to the effect of, “My old parenting habits showed up. That’s not how I want to parent. I’ve been working on it, and I’m getting better, but as you saw, I slipped back into my old parenting habits, and I’m sorry.”

She said, after that, her teen actually apologized to her. She went on to tell me that after that, she felt more close and connected with her teen.

Here’s a little secret.

You DON’T have to be perfect!

Be vulnerable, let your teen know that you are not perfect, and let your teen know exactly what your working on.

It will help your teen be more patient with your, and it will help you be more patient with your teen.

#3 Don’t Underestimate The Power of an Apology

Okay, this one is obvious, but it’s so powerful, I’m going to briefly mention it too.

Apologize to your teen. I find it kind of funny when a parent tells me, “I can’t remember the last time my teen apologized to me.” Then I ask them, “Can you remember the last time YOU apologized to your teen?” Usually, the answer is “No.”

Here’s a little secret. If you want your teen to apologize more, BE The Change you want to see and YOU start apologizing more. This will model the behavior.

Plus, a sincere apology is powerful. You can’t go back and undo “imperfect” parenting moments, but you can own them and apologize.

#4 Empower Your Teen

Okay, by now we all know that I’m on a Teen Empowerment kick.

But, how do you empower your teen when it comes to making reparations as a parent.

Simple, Ask Them!

“Hey, I know you were upset at the way that I handled that last night. How can I make it right with you?”

Another of my favorite questions is, “You and I both are unhappy with how I handled this yesterday. What would you do in my shoes?”

One of the best ways to empower your teen is to give them opportunities to talk to you.

Another great way to empower your teen is to give them opportunities to think about things from a different perspective.

Want to repair things with your teen? Find ways to empower them.

#5 It’s Never Too Late, BUT Don’t Wait!

I can’t tell you how many parents have told me that they think it’s too late to improve their relationship with their teen.

I’m here to tell you the opposite.

It’s NEVER too late!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents and teens who have had terrible relationships for years, and then within a matter of months, weeks, even days sometimes, the relationship improves simply because the parents were willing to start BEING the change they were looking for.

I promise you, it’s never too late; BUT, don’t wait around.

Sure, wait until the next day if you need to, but don’t wait much longer than that. If you want to improve your relationship with your teen, it starts with you.

And, your teen wants YOU to connect with them! I promise.

Find ways to start repairing your relationship with your teen TODAY!

BONUS Use the Wheel Of Life

Recently a mom was telling me that this new way of parenting was becoming more natural and automatic, but she still falls into her old habits.

That’s okay. All that means is that you need more practice, more reps.

For this, I like to use the Wheel of Life. It’s a quick little concept that I call “practicing your parenting.” Sounds simple, right? But trust me, it’s a game-changer. Picture it like a big wheel that’s always spinning. When life’s great, you’re at the top of the wheel. When things get tough, you’re at the bottom. But here’s the awesome part – the wheel keeps on turning, so those tough times won’t last forever!

Now, here’s the juicy secret: when life’s treating you well and everything feels smooth sailing, that’s the perfect time to practice being the parent you’ve always dreamed of. It’s like honing your skills in great moments so that you better handle those not-so-great moments.

If you want to handle “bad” or “imperfect” parenting moments better, implement the Wheel of Life and practice your parenting in the “easy” top of the wheel moments!

Step 1 – Go take the parent trap quiz!

It’s free, easy, and will take you less than 3 minutes.

Step 2 – Use your quiz results to focus your energy on growing in the area indicated by your quiz results.

Step 3- Come work with me to help you up level your parenting!