• Valerie Bryant Felder

2 Basics to “Save Face” When You “Lose Self” in Front of Your Child


Being a childbirth educator grants me the joy of seeing a couple welcome and embrace their new baby while it is yet in utero. Watching them fall in love with their unborn child gives me a wonderful feeling for that baby’s future – that it is destined to have a life of joyful, positive experiences. As far as the expectant parents are concerned, during their time in my class, they will ask questions like:


- How long should we expect to be in labor and still know that all is progressing well?

- What questions should we ask to select a doctor for our baby?

- What can the father do to best help the mother progress well through labor?


I have specific answers for each of these and other questions to help couples confidently plan for their birthing day. Although I can never guarantee that their labor experience will follow a precise path, I can and do offer general formulas to guide them through their journey to and through labor.


These same couples are sometimes surprised to find that the real family labor comes in years following the birth of their child – a period encompassing toddler through adulthood. The questions then concern how to best maneuver the labor of family relationship. Quite often, because family relating has not gone as they had originally purposed, these couples carry a burden of guilt upon their shoulders.


What causes good, well-meaning parents to feel such guilt as they go about raising their children? Often, it is due to developing drama or negative attitude within the family. I do hear parents opine about a child who is insistent on backtalk, an older teen who refuses their counsel, or an adult child who is making bad and even risky choices. Understandably, a child’s bad behavior can bring great sorrow to well-meaning parents.


However, as easy as it ever is to blame all negative events on a child, we parents sometimes play the culprit. I can tell you about numerous times when I “blew it” and was left standing in an embarrassed state before my wondering children. Thankfully, as they all can attest, we have been able to recall those moments with laughter – and the joke is truly all on me (I’m ok with that). Still, how do you bow out of your own shameful acts when you were the one who took the “low road”? How do you move forward when you were the misbehaving party? Check out some cooling remedies below to rescue yourself when you, the parent, are the offender. As you do, remember that to ere is only human; maturely face the facts about your own mistakes with necessary grace that should be reserved for self. Don’t retreat to a proverbial corner and beat yourself up about it. On the other hand, do not ignore your own misdeeds, for to do so shows you as an inept adult in the eyes of your child.


Consider these two back to basics ways to help you save “face” and restore relationship with your child:


#1) If you “Blow Up” and say the wrong words to your child

– Apologize and ask forgiveness immediately


It teaches your child that they are not the only ones to error. It also demonstrates to them how to make a deteriorated situation better. You are showing them that others are right when they render them appropriate regard and decency after such a matter.


Here is one self-preserving rescue plan: Analyze what just happened to produce such wrong reaction on your part.


1. Were you already stressed by other circumstances?


2. Had you consumed too many cups of coffee (caffeine jitters could be a factor)?


3. Did you miss a meal (Low blood sugar does impact ability to rightly respond)?


4. Are you not inclined to give that child the benefit of doubt because of their negative behavioral track record? Here is where you must reconsider if this is the case because you are not fairly giving them a chance to move beyond their negative past.


5. Did your child just push your “hot button”? Consider how you might more maturely respond if (I should say “when”) it happens again in the future. One of the worst acts a parent can perform is to give matters of self-control over to their child. Doing so equips them to manage your emotional state. Guess who is really in control if that happens. (Hint: Sadly, it is not you.)


#2) If you showed a weakness

– Admit that weakness to your child and ask them to pray for you to have a better response in the future


Sometimes life can happen negatively in a moment. Maybe you were nasty towards someone who cut you off in traffic. Maybe that last cashier didn't treat you with basic respect. You may have decided, in a hot moment, to give a little pay back. I know how liberating that can feel - but when your children are witnessing, I assure you the pleasure you derive is just not worth it. So admit to your child that you should have had better response. This tells your child that the path to self-improvement is on-going; therefore, no one is perfect - yet everyone needs a show of grace in such times.


Your self-preserving rescue plan: Do some self-improvement work. It’s always best to know yourself first before you, as a parent, believe you can help another (your child) to improve their tendencies to "fly off the handle". Figure out why you respond as you do in such situations. It might take talking to your spouse or another adult who could help you see through matters of self. Whatever you do, realize you can overcome the most negative occurrence with more mature, controlled response.



In summary: Your child is learning how to interact with others and the world around through what you do. If they see you striving to improve yourself, it gives them permission to show themselves grace when they mess up in life. Your child then learns to deeply respect and trust you, even as you misstep through life as a parent.


Bond your family by taking responsibility for the way in which you act.



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