Tenderness at a Child’s Rebuke

AS I read a story to my son during his bedtime routine, I received a sharp albeit respectful rebuke. All I had said was the street, “Riverbank Close.” It did happen to be “Riverbank Rise,” so he simply said, “Riverbank Rise!” to which I said, “Yes, that’s what I said,” not thinking. “No,” he said, “you said Riverbank Close!” “Yes,” I said, having given it further thought, “you’re right, I did get it wrong.” There was no gloating in him as he heard me say that, just the body language of thankfulness that he had been heard.

I stood corrected. I granted him the fact that he was right and promptly acknowledged it.

There have been times when, as a father, I would have said, “Now, that’s enough of that, remember who is Dad (i.e. the boss… and the boss is never wrong)!” Times when my pride has risen up and demanded ‘respect’.

And how just would that have been had that happened? How many times have we cut our children off simply because they were right, yet we couldn’t accept their letting us know? How many times has pride won the order of the day, only for the children to have to wear the sting of injustice again? Sure, it’s happened to us all and, if we’re parents, we’ve all probably executed those same injustices.

A parent engages in powerful parenting when they overturn power structures in the execution of justice against themselves to advance truth; to say we’re sorry when we ought to be; to give the benefit of the doubt; to elevate truth above our ‘right’ to misuse our power.

In the situation above, how could it be fair other than to acknowledge he was right and I was wrong? It cost nothing to be honest, and in being honest I was able to express my gratitude for having been corrected.

Children learn justice best through their experience of it in their own homes.

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James Parkinson