I totally remember being a kid, doing something I wasn't supposed to do — whether on purpose or by accident — and feeling so guilty about it that I burst into tears the moment I saw my mom. There's a time and a place to enact reasonable punishments when your kids misbehave. And then there are those times where it's clear your child feels bad enough about what they've done without any outside discipline.
That's what this viral Facebook post is all about. Play at Home Mom co-founder Rosie Lamphere recently shared her daughter's fairly sizable "oopsie." While messing around, she put a hole in the wall. A big one. But this post, which has over 215,000 reactions, 250,000 shares, and 27,000 comments, isn't about what her kids did wrong. It's about how she chose to react to it.
Rosie explains that while her kids were messing around, one of them "put their body through the drywall." Her 9-year-old "came downstairs crying and frantic" telling her there was something she had to show her. "The remorse was already displayed all over her body," Rosies writes. "She didn't need me to make her feel guilty. She didn't need me to shame her. She didn't need me to make an already crappy situation worse. 'I'm sorry!!!' I know you are."
She said she wasn't ready to tell her dad what happened, so Rosie let her wait until she was ready. Meanwhile, she went downstairs and told her husband what happened. They discussed how to approach the situation when she did decide to tell him. "We have two choices here," Rosie writes. "1. Scream and yell and make her feel more awful than she already does. 2. Accept that little girl for each bit of awesome that she is... even in her mistakes. To realize that it was SO hard for her to come down and tell you how she made a mistake."
Because of the way they responded, she writes, "My daughter walks around with a little more trust. She walks around feeling loved and connected. She walks around knowing that she can tell her parents anything and that she is safe." It's not like she wasn't sorry. It's not like she didn't learn her lesson. She just didn't need a parent screaming at her or lecturing her to learn it.
She even wrote her dad a letter of apology, offering not to receive Christmas presents that year, and tried to give him all her savings to help pay to fix the wall. She did this on her own.
How freaking cute is this? No one's perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes big ones. The key to being a good person is thaving the ability to own up to mistakes and work to make them right. At a young age, this girl is already well on her way to knowing how to do the right thing when she messes up.
Rosie explains the way to instill this understanding in your kids isn't by yelling and screaming. It's by setting an example with your own actions. "We've called the town park to let them know we accidentally broke a piece of equipment. We left a note on a car when we accidentally dinged their door." Rosie didn't take away Christmas and she gave her daughter her savings back. She knew her kid had already done the right thing.
Parenting is insanely hard and busy and stressful, and it's easy to express your disappointment when mistakes like this happen. But it does so much more for your relationships with your kids if you take a beat to think about the way you respond to tough situations.
Rosie's words resonated with so many people in the comments, who shared stories of incidents they still remember from when they were little that affect them to this very day. One commenter writes that she ran away from her foster home in the middle of the night one night. Neighbors "lured" her inside and called her foster mom, who responded very calmly and with compassion. "That's when I first learned I could trust someone," she writes.
Another person who put a hole in the wall in their youth writes that her dad responded very matter-of-factly with, "Well, you will get to learn how to patch drywall." She still remembers it, and she approaches her children's mistakes in the same way.
We've all been in that situation where we make a mistake and then automatically feel so bad about it. That's part of being human, of being a good person. One can only hope that all kids have parents as in tune and understanding as Rosie and her husband.