Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It's not okay. The right way to accept an apology.

All day, everyday I deal with kids. Yes, this is by choice. I decided to become a teacher, and I always knew that I'd be a dad one day. So naturally, yeah, I interact with kids regularly. And, much like adults, they make mistakes, say things that are mean, do things to be mean, and all around act like..

Through all of my interactions with kids there is a certain issue I'm growing very tired of, and it has to do with apologies. I think we can all agree that apologies are often things that are only said, and not always felt. A true apology shows feelings, remorse, and an overall acknowledgment of the hurt caused by the loss of trust in that moment.

In the hecticness of life, we all spew out apologies so quickly and easily that we are causing a new problem that I'm truly growing tired of, especially since it's making its way through popular media "reality" and/or "politics." And this problem has to do with the phrase "that's okay." This phrase should no longer be acceptable when an apology has been offered up. It has become so standard that it's almost a reaction now, like getting into the car and buckling up. You don't think about it, but there you are driving all buckled up.

Sure, there are certain times when saying, "that's okay," when an apology is given is totally acceptable. But, we are saying it way too much any more, and we need to get into the practice of actually accepting an apology in a way that shows self respect, and acknowledges that what happened wasn't okay, and shouldn't happen again. I would love to hear more, "I appreciate that apology, but what happened wasn't okay. It hurt, and I really hope it doesn't happen again." Just think if we were to start accepting apologies more like that! And not, "that's okay." Because it wasn't and isn't okay to be hurt by other's words or actions. But we are creating groups of people that keep pushing the issue, because they keep hearing "that's okay" for their apologies. The remorse in doing something wrong isn't there, and they keep getting away with it, because we are modeling weak ways of accepting apologies.

As a dad and a teacher, I've been stepping in to better model how this works. It's been amazing watching how the kids have altered things in my classroom and at home just in how I've responded to apologies by what I'm saying or having the kids say. I've listed a few options below as ideas to try when you are accepting an apology, or are helping a kiddo receiving an apology.
  • Thanks for apologizing, but please don't do it again. I'm disappointed in how that went down.
  • I accept your apology, but I'm not happy that happened, and I'm still hurt. 
  • I hear your apology. I know that I'm expected to accept it, but I'm still hurt by what happened.
  • Thank you for apologizing. I do appreciate it, and I can see that you feel bad about what happened.  
I would encourage all of you fellow parents and/or teachers to at least consider finding your own way to escape from using the "that's okay" response in apologies. We can see in social media and the news all of the crazy things people seem to be getting away with saying and doing; and the insincere apologies that follow. It's up to us to show and encourage those around us to speak up with appropriate responses to apologies. This isn't to be done in a way that attacks the person apologizing, but to instead reinforce our own self worth, and establish the notion that what happened isn't okay, and shouldn't happen again. 

Thanks for taking the time to follow and support The Teacher Dad. If you haven't already, please take the time to follow The Teacher Dad on Facebook and on Twitter. And don't forget to subscribe to The Teacher Dad at the bottom of the page to get your FREE copy of my ebook which discusses how to approach teachers with your student's academic struggles.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

You're the perfect mom for your kid(s)!

I've been blessed to have been surrounded by so many amazing mothers over the years. Obviously, my mom has been my one and only mother through every day of my life. She has shown me so much about strength, love, and determination. She has given tough love, but has also shown me what unconditional love and pride truly is. She's amazing and I thank the universe everyday for her and all that she is to my sisters and I. And I include my sister, because I see so much of the love my sisters have for their kids as a reflection of what my mom has been to all of us. She truly has been a shining example of motherhood to the point where I think the universe had a plan in putting her birthday so close to mother's day! But to be fair, I'm not saying that my mom was perfect.. gasp!!! None of us are.. But what I've come to understand is that she has been the perfect mom for me.

In looking through my facebook feed lately, and reflecting on all of the moms I've seen during my life I realized that I'm also so incredibly lucky to have witnessed other amazing mothers and their styles of parenting. When I think back to my childhood, I remember my Aunties (my mom's sisters) and their different mothering styles. I see their strengths in the wonderful parents that my cousins have become.  Each of them show amazing dedication to their kids while bringing a zest for humor and youthfulness. I see in each of them the amazing qualities I will always remember of my Aunties (their moms).

But it doesn't stop there! It hit me that even my best childhood friends had great moms in their lives, and in turn these old friends of mine are amazing dads and moms as well. I see them all with wonderful spouses, careers, and lives that I know reflect much of the dreams their moms continue to have for them. And again, I'm not saying these wonderful ladies were perfect, but for my friends and who they are today, their moms were perfect for them to guide them to this point. 

And in thinking about moms, I can't continue without bringing up my mother-in-law. A modern day angel. A person who exemplifies kindness and love in all she does. A person who literally risked her life to have her 3 youngest children. Having her as a mother figure in my life for nearly 15 years now has made me see just how precious every moment is. Her mothering style is different from that of my own mom, and was perfect for raising the 4 strong, intelligent women her daughters have become. 

All of this leads to my final realization, and the point of this post. When I took this past Mother's Day and this past week, to think about all of these wonderful moms I've been blessed to know, I can take all the things that I admire of them individually and put them together as all of the things that make my wife the absolute best mom in the world for our kids. She shows the softness and care of her own mother; the unconditional pride/love and strength of my mother; and the joyful laughter and youth of my aunties combined with many other qualities that are guiding our 5 wonderful kids through childhood towards being adults.. one day.. not soon! :)

And no, she's not always perfect. But moms aren't supposed to be. Kids need to not just see the perfect. Kids need to see the struggle and the mistakes, and how we work through them, and become stronger. My wife shows love, pride, laughter, and joy while displaying her strength and perseverance throughout each day. My kids have a mom that creatively and professionally runs her own business while she does the work of a stay at home mom. I'm a lucky man to know that she is the model my kids grow up with each and every day.

So, to all of the moms in my life, thank you for being who you are to your kids. And remember that you are the perfect person to be in this role for your children. You are who they need (good and bad) to help them to become the grown-ups they are destined to be.

Use the comments section below to tell me about your mom! What qualities from her did you admire the most, OR what lessons did you take away in the "what NOT to do" category?

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. If you are new to The Teacher Dad site, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter for updates and Teacher-Dad related ideas, thoughts, and posts! You can also subscribe below to receive email updates and a free copy of my ebook The Teacher Dad Guide to Inclusion and Accommodations (How to approach teachers about your student's academic struggles)